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Tech companies have come under greater pressure in recent months to clean up their act, and now, Samsung wants to stem criticism by launching a new sustainability plan. The South Korean giant says it wants to divert all waste from landfill within the next three years, as well as up the percentage of recycled materials and slash plastic from its product lines.
Samsung just announced a slate of new measures in a bid to go green, with its most ambitious target to achieve zero waste to landfill by 2025. Releasing its environmental impact plan earlier this month, the tech giant said that “everyone has a role to play” and that it understood that its commitments would have to “match our scale, our influence”.
Landfill waste-free by 2025
To deliver on its target to reach zero waste to landfill by 2025, the company says that it will begin improving its product lifecycle design and implement new circular upcycling, refurbishing and recycling programs.
One of these is “Galaxy Upcycling”, an initiative to turn old Samsung phones into smart home devices, another being Certified Re-Newed, an option for customers to buy secondhand phones that have been repaired to like-new quality. There’s also a trade-in campaign to encourage Samsung users to hand in their worn-out devices in return to credit, so the firm can either recycle, refurbish or repurpose the product again.
“[This] is an important step in our journey toward creating a more sustainable world,” commented Samsung’s mobile communications chief TM Roh.
Recycling up, plastic down
Other pledges that Samsung has made in its action plan include upping the share of recycled materials in its mobile phones. By 2025, every single Samsung mobile device will contain recycled materials—though it did not set a specific percentage target for the amount of recycled content each item would be made from.
A more quantifiable commitment the company has made is eliminating 100% of plastic packaging from its mobile product line within three years, and will instead replace “unnecessary resources and materials” with sustainable alternatives. The phones themselves will change too, with Samsung saying it’ll improve energy efficiency and power consumption.
“We will work to achieve initial goals by 2025, and will aim to evolve our commitments to address new challenges beyond 2025,” the company said in a statement.
Previously, Samsung worked with Danish eco textile company Kvadrat to launch a range of upcycled accessories for the brand’s devices, such as phone cases made from repurposed plastic bottles.
Tech under green pressure
Samsung’s announcement comes amid a renewed wave of criticism over the tech industry’s role in fuelling the global waste crisis and one-click consumption culture. Every single year, the world throws out 53 million tonnes of electronic waste—equivalent to 7.3 kilograms of mobile phones, laptops and computers being thrown out by every single person on the planet—and just 17% gets recycled.
Brands like Samsung, Microsoft and Apple have been put under the spotlight from both increasingly eco-conscious consumers and governments for its waste-encouraging practices, especially when it comes to incentivising consumers to purchase new products instead of recycling or repairing old ones.
But this could soon be coming to an end, with the Biden administration revealing plans to usher in new legislation to give American consumers the “right to repair”. Similar laws are already in place in Europe, where producers are required to make products durable and easy to fix with replaceable parts.
All images courtesy of Samsung.