Samsung is at a cross-roads. In the aftermath of the Galaxy Note7 fiasco the tech giant has admitted they need a fresh start. However, this doesn’t just have to be a fresh start to advertise a new Galaxy S8, it could also represent a fresh start for the consumers and the planet.
Earlier this week Greenpeace revealed the waste that could be generated if Samsung does not reuse components from the 4.3 million faulty Galaxy Note7 phones it produced. Tonnes of cobalt, gold, silver, tungsten and more that could be lost if not dealt with properly. Thousands of people around the world spoke up to call for Samsung to act, while governments from Hong Kong to Korea expressed their concerns. Samsung didn’t stay quiet for long and yesterday sent a response to media “recognizing the concerns” and “reviewing possible options that can minimise the environmental impact of the recall.”
The opportunity in crisis
But this isn’t just about “minimising the impact” or “complying with regulations”, it is about having the vision and the leadership to see the opportunity in this crisis. Will Samsung choose to go back to the industry norm: wasteful, short-lasting irreparable gadgets, or use this huge moment to create the next Galaxy, charting a new path for truly innovative devices made to last, be repairable and composed of recycled material?
Walk the talk
Reading Samsung’s website suggests a radically different company than the one we see, a leader of the “the circular economy” or an explorer pushing the boundaries of how to “reuse waste products”. However, Samsung now has the chance to walk the talk and make their paper promises a reality, showing their competitors they can be different in a way that matters, different on behalf of our future and our planet.
Actions speaking louder than words
So far all we have heard are meaningless statements and no action. Greenpeace is demanding transparency on their plans for 4.3 million phones and, together with thousands around the world, we can urge the company to take this opportunity to rethink how they design, make, collect and reuse their products and the precious materials they contain.
Jude Lee is the Senior IT Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.