The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Sunday, 5 July

Burning Issue of 7s Disposal

Samsung’s lack of transparency on the disposal of Galaxy Note 7s leaves tonnes of precious minerals at risk of being discarded into the environment, Greenpeace has said.

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.

These materials could be recovered but would instead end up harming the environment if Samsung doesn’t repurpose or reuse these precious minerals.

Samsung has yet to make an official statement fully explaining the causes of the fault, despite a global recall of the Galaxy Note 7 and offering replacements. It has said that it will not recycle the phones and has still not offered any clarity on what it will do with the returned phones.

“Samsung now has an opportunity to set an example to the industry: will it recover and reuse the precious metals and other valuable materials in these 4.3 million devices and avoid an environmental disaster, or will it simply dump them?” said Jude Lee, Senior IT Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia. “We are launching a global petition challenging Samsung to not dump the phones and instead take this chance to totally rethink how it designs and produces its products.”

Millions of phones were recalled worldwide after a number of high profile cases of exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7 devices. In April 2016, Samsung expected to sell 14 million Galaxy Note 7 devices within the first two months since its official launch. Samsung has currently produced 4.3 million devices and sold 1.8 million in more than 10 countries including South Korea, USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, and China.

In the USA - the country with the highest amount of phones sold at a total of 1 million - Samsung mentioned that their existing mobile takeback programme does not apply to the Galaxy Note 7 but has not stated how they will deal with the phones or whether the phones will go through recycling or smelting programs.

The Galaxy Note 7 incident reflects the disposable economic model of many smartphone manufacturers and is having a negative impact on the brand’s reputation. Dumping millions of phones also raises the issue of Samsung’s transparency and claims to support a 'circular economy', and of the responsibility associated with resource efficiency.

In 1995, following a defect in its newly produced Anycall phones, Samsung disposed of 150,000 phones and set them on fire. Greenpeace is urging Samsung to step up and use this crisis as an opportunity to adopt a more forward-thinking approach.

“This incident shows how fragile and wasteful our current system of production is - a system that hasn’t changed since the industrial revolution. Samsung has an opportunity to rethink its production model - one that would improve recovery of precious metals and rare earth minerals, to design products that can be more easily repaired, recycled or reused,” said Lee.

In August, Greenpeace East Asia released results of a consumer survey which found that many people believed that phone manufacturers should be responsible for providing people with the means to recycle their phones. Over half of respondents across the countries surveyed agree that manufacturers are releasing too many new models every year.

Greenpeace is calling on Samsung to not dump or burn the devices and minimise the environmental impact by finding alternative ways to reuse the resources. It must also be transparent and publish its plan on how it intends to deal with dismantling and disposing these phones.

Picture: What will happen to Note 7s - is burning an option?

 

Article written by Cathryn Ellis

Share



Related Articles

Electric Spells End to ICE Age

Volvo Cars, the Chinese car firm, has announced that every Volvo it launches from 2019 will have an electric motor, marking the historic end of cars that have only an...

 Read Full Article
Getting Hornets - Nature Watchers to the Rescue

  A new App launched to help people and businesses report sightings of the Asian Hornet is the latest weapon in the fight to prevent the spread of this highly...

 Read Full Article
Unpacking and Unpicking to Cost a Packet or Two

Samsung’s Unpacked event in New York captured considerable media attention attention on March 29, as the Galaxy S8 and S8+ were unveiled to a full house at the...

 Read Full Article
Not So Smart As You Think

European Union member states are unprepared to fully embrace the benefits of the smart building revolution according to a study published by the Buildings Performance...

 Read Full Article
Taxis Head Down Electric Avenue

The Business Secretary Greg Clark and Transport Minister John Hayes were at the official opening of a new electric taxi factory on March 22 that will create 1,000 jobs in...

 Read Full Article
Earth Calling on Mobile Upgrades

Smartphones are leaving a disastrous environmental footprint, warns new Greenpeace report released in Barcelona on the eve of Mobile World Congress Feb 27. Smartphone...

 Read Full Article
Notify Me When Parking Space is Free

Apps that notify motorists of congestion and available parking spaces and real time journey information for visually impaired passengers, are just some of the projects...

 Read Full Article
Making Rainwater Work and Work

Freshwater scarcity and wastage is a global environmental issue, leading to nations such as Malaysia to seek siphonic drainage systems to help recycle the precious...

 Read Full Article
Stairway to Heaven

Councils from the south coast to the North East announced recently that they had completed the first of four month-long challenges in which staff ‘ditch the...

 Read Full Article
Laptop Legacy - Recycling to Benefit Homeless

A scheme that is claimed will change the lives of hundreds of homeless people will provide them with refurbished laptop computers and training. The Laptops for...

 Read Full Article