Because of You, Samsung Will Finally Recycle Millions of Galaxy Note 7s

by Jude Lee

March 27, 2017

After five months of people-powered action, Samsung has pulled its head out of the sand and committed to recycling the millions of Galaxy Note 7 phones it recalled last year.

“Save the Galaxy” Action at Samsung Electronics HQ in Korea

Greenpeace activists push for Samsung to recycle its recalled Galaxy Note 7 phones in front of the company's Suwon, South Korea headquarters.

From creative protests in front of Samsung’s headquarters, to a powerful display at the Mobile World Congress last month, to this video you spread around the world, your action has led the fight to get Samsung to recycle the millions of Galaxy Note 7 phones it recalled last year.

And it worked!

Yesterday, Samsung committed to refurbishing non-problematic components of the Galaxy Note 7 — such as the camera and alarms — so they can be used and resold in future phones. For components that can’t be re-purposed, the company will extract and recycle the raw materials in an environmentally safe way.

Samsung also announced it will participate in new research led by the European Union aimed at developing a new environmentally friendly technology to recycle smartphones. We’ll be watching to see where this goes, but for now, it’s good news!

If it wasn’t for you, these phones would’ve been wasted.

Hundreds of thousands of you signed petitions and sent messages to Samsung’s CEO, demanding the company release a plan for recycling these smartphones and move away from its wasteful business model of making short-lived devices.

You took action with us online, calling on Samsung to #SaveTheGalaxy, and in February, activists in Barcelona took this message straight to the company, holding up banners inside and outside of Samsung’s press conference at the Mobile World Congress.

Protest at World Mobile Congress in Spain

Greenpeace protests outside Samsung’s presentation at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

This win is proof that together, we are powerful!

At present, electronics production and consumption is incredibly problematic.

Tons of precious raw materials go into making throwaway electronics that are impossible to repair and purposefully designed not to last, leading to millions of gadgets being bought and thrown away as e-waste every year. Electronics factories are mostly powered by dirty energy like coal and most electronics are made by workers using hazardous chemicals that have tremendous impacts on their health and on the health of the local environment.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

As IT companies have shown again and again, technology and creativity can be used as powerful forces to transition from an outdated business model towards a more sustainable one. Leading IT companies can become the greatest advocates for a closed-loop production model and a renewable-powered future. The brightest designers can create toxic-free gadgets to last, be repaired, and ultimately transformed into something new.

Samsung’s announcement is the first step to show its effort to set a new path for recycling smartphones starting with the Galaxy Note 7s. Greenpeace will make sure Samsung listens to your voice and the voices of the millions of people who asked for this and honors its commitment.

It’s time our gadgets are as innovative for the planet as they are for our lives. Greenpeace will soon score smartphone brands to see just how repairable they are — and we’ll continue tracking how companies like Samsung live up to their promises. Stay tuned!

By Jude Lee

Jude Lee is a Senior IT Campaigner based in Seoul with Greenpeace East Asia

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