Samsung steps away from plastics in move towards sustainability

28 Jan 2019

Samsung building in California. Image: SundryPhotography/Depositphotos 

South Korean mobile giant Samsung wants to cut down on plastics used in its products and packaging.

Over the last year or so, the desire to mitigate plastic pollution and reduce waste has become more urgent among the general public and governments alike. With the stark realities of climate change and the level of contamination coming to light, more organisations are examining ways to reduce their use of plastics.

Samsung makes move towards a greener future

Global technology player Samsung has joined other companies aiming to reduce their reliance on plastic materials. On Sunday (27 January), the South Korean firm announced it will replace the plastic used in phones, wearables and tablets for accessory bags and moulds with “eco-friendly materials”.

Starting this year, the company plans to swap the typical plastic trays that its devices come in for pulp moulds and will also produce matte chargers in future, eliminating the need for a plastic film to protect them during transport.

Plastic bags that previously covered air conditioners, refrigerators, televisions and other larger electronic devices will be replaced with recycled materials and bioplastics stemming from non-fossil fuel sources.

Samsung is also set to begin using paper that has been certified by “global environment organisations” such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Forest Stewardship Council for its instruction manuals and guarantee documents by next year.

Head of Samsung’s Global Customer Satisfaction Center, Gyeong-bin Jeon, said: “We are committed to recycling resources and minimising pollution coming from our products. We will adopt more environmentally sustainable materials even if it means an increase in cost.”

By 2030, the company aims to use 500,000 tonnes of recycled plastics and collect 7.5m tonnes of discarded products. Both figures are cumulative from 2009.

Criticised for environmental track record

The company has come under significant criticism in the past from environmental organisations. In a 2017 Greenpeace report, Samsung received a D grade for its heavy reliance on fossil fuels. The company used more than 16,000GWh of energy in 2016, with just 1pc coming from renewables.

In June 2018, the company announced it has put measures in place to move towards 100pc renewable energy by 2020. It added that it would be working with approximately 100 of its partner companies to assist them in meeting their own sustainability targets.

Samsung also said it planned to work with CDP, an organisation that runs the global disclosure system which allows firms to measure and manage their environmental impacts.

Samsung building in California. Image: SundryPhotography/Depositphotos 

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects