Global protests push Samsung to finally recycle Galaxy Note 7 – Greenpeace

March 27, 2017

Seoul, 27 March 2017 - Samsung today officially published its plan to deal with the 4.3 million Galaxy Note 7 devices produced and recalled worldwide following battery faults. This major win comes after nearly five months of campaigning and global protests addressing the environmental impact of the recall.

People around the world signed petitions, emailed Samsung’s CEO, demanding Samsung act responsibly, and finally Samsung has listened. This is major win for everyone that took action, and a step towards shifting the way we produce and dispose of electronics,” said Elizabeth Jardim, Senior Campaigner at Greenpeace USA

Samsung’s commitment precedes the March 29th launch of the Galaxy S8 in New York City, the first Samsung phone to be released since the Note 7 incident. In a public statement released on its website today, Samsung committed to:

  • Refurbishing and selling the recalled phones or use them as rental phones,
  • Detach salvageable components, such as semiconductors and camera modules, for reuse or sale; and,
  • Extract metals using “environmentally friendly methods”.

The IT giant also claimed it will be joining a new research conducted by the European Union aimed at developing new environmentally friendly technologies to recycle smartphones.

Electronics production, including smartphones, is incredibly energy and resource intensive, according to a Greenpeace USA report published in February 2017 on the impacts of smartphone production since 2007. According to a United Nations report in 2014, e-waste volumes from small IT products, such as mobile phones and personal computers are predicted to rise globally to 50 million metric tons or more every year in 2017. This represents a massive waste of resources, and a source of contamination from hazardous chemicals.

“While we welcome these commitments, Samsung must share as soon as possible detailed timelines on when it will implement its promises, as well as how it will produce phones that are designed to be repaired and easily recycled going forward, to extend their lifespans.” said Jardim.

“The average smartphone in the US is only used for about two years, before its is recycled or simply added to growing piles of e-waste around the world. This is simply not sustainable. Samsung and other IT companies such as Apple should manufacture phones that are easy to repair, refurbish, and upgrade,” said Jardim.

Greenpeace will further push the tech sector in the coming month to rethink its impact on the planet. The Galaxy S8 and best selling models from 14 top IT companies’ will be scored to inform customers on how repairable the phones are.

Media contacts:

Elizabeth Jardim, Senior Campaigner, +1.704.582-3634 elizabeth.jardim@greenpeace.org or Gary Cook, Senior Campaigner, +1.202.297.2370 gary.cook@greenpeace.org

Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours), pressdesk.int@greenpeace.org

Notes to editors:

Photos and video can be found here

[1] Samsung press statement can be found at the following link: https://news.samsung.com/global/samsung-to-set-the-principles-to-recycle-of-returned-galaxy-note-7-devices-in-an-environmentally-friendly-way

[2] According to calculations by Oeko-Institut, a research and consultancy institution based in Germany, 4.3 million smartphones contain more than 20 metric tonnes of Cobalt, approximately more than 1 tonne of tungsten, 1 tonne of silver, 100 kilograms of gold and between 20 and 60 kilograms of palladium. More information on calculations and methodology by the Oeko-Institut available here.

[3] Greenpeace USA’s report From Smart to Senseless: The Global Impact of Ten Years of Smartphones can be found here

[4]  United Nations University, 2015, “The Global E-waste Monitor – 2014

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