Right now Samsung is considering dumping 4.3 million brand new Galaxy Note 7 phones following nearly 100 cases of exploding phones around the world. That is equivalent to almost 730,000 kilograms of hi-spec technology! While Samsung made the right call in taking their phones out of circulation to avoid more accidents or injuries, the question is now what are they going to do with this huge mountain of phones?
A small child sitting among cables and e-waste in Guiyu, China. Vast amounts are routinely shipped as waste from Europe, USA and Japan to countries in Asia. Much of modern electronic equipment, such as smartphones, contains precious and heavy metals (8 March, 2005).
Greenpeace is calling on the global tech leader to see an opportunity in this crisis and show leadership. Samsung must act transparently to ensure these gadgets don’t end up in the trash but are instead dismantled and separated, and that the precious materials they contain are reused.
What do we know so far?
Samsung produced 4.3 million Galaxy Note 7 phones and sold 1.8 million of these devices in 10 countries including South Korea, USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, and China.
The company recalled all devices and is still collecting them from consumers at its stores and through partners around the world.
Samsung announced that the company will dispose of all the recalled Galaxy Note 7 devices and will not repair, refurbish or resell them.
These phones contain rare and precious resources like gold, cobalt and tungsten that could be recovered instead of being easily thrown away.
But there are still some things that Samsung has not come clean on.
Here are a few questions it needs to answer…
Where, when and how does Samsung plan to dispose of these millions of phones?
How will Samsung ensure the precious resources contained in these phones are safely recovered?
Will the phones be recycled locally or shipped to one specific location?
Greenpeace is calling on Samsung to be transparent and publish its plan to deal with dismantling and disposing these phones. We also urge Samsung not to dump or burn the devices. It would be truly innovative if Samsung avoided the huge waste and environmental impact that comes from dumping and burning these devices!
A group of volunteers takes a smartphone repair class at the Greenpeace Mexico office given by a local repair group, Fix Friends.
The world is watching how Samsung will respond to this crisis. Now is the perfect opportunity for the brand to show leadership and vision, breaking with the old ways and opening the door to rethinking how it designs, sells and reuses its electronics.
Jude Lee is a Senior IT Campaigner based in Seoul with Greenpeace East Asia