June 5th was World Environment Day, a day designated by the United Nations in 1972 to promote global awareness and action to protect our environment. Each year, a different theme is chosen and this year is ‘Ecosystem Restoration’, an approach chosen to highlight the importance of restoring and protecting the environment.
Science and technology have made life easier and more convenient by incorporating many innovative products and services into our daily routine. However, the downside of these additions is the emergence of serious global environmental challenges, including climate change and resource depletion, which are problems that threaten the future of our world.
To help mitigate these issues, Samsung Electronics strives to incorporate environmental sustainability into everything it does. Let’s take a look at how Samsung green product innovation and consumer engagement come together to help us achieve a sustainable future.
Senior Vice President Hyungnam Kim, Director of CS Global Center, Samsung Electronics
Reduce the environmental impact of the entire product life cycle
Based on the principle of product stewardship, our items are carefully designed to minimize their environmental impact. In this sense, Samsung is deeply involved in activities to reduce the environmental impact of its products throughout their entire life cycle, from development and manufacture to distribution and use, through after-sales service and recycling.
First, Samsung integrates environmental measures into its product development process. To this end, the company has introduced an environmental design process to evaluate its products to follow environmental standards in various countries, including the United States and Korea. In 2008, the company established a Green Committee across its structure and divisional working groups to intensify its efforts in developing green products. To this day, Samsung is committed to developing innovative, high-performance products that have minimal impact on the environment.
Samsung’s focus on sustainability continues into the manufacturing phase. The company is expanding the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar and geothermal, in its facilities, and is also incorporating the use of recycled and waste water. As a representative example, Samsung also advanced sustainability by providing 100% renewable electricity across all of its facilities in the US, Europe and China last year. In addition, Samsung plans to expand the use of renewable energy to the rest of its facilities around the world, after developing systems and infrastructure in each region.
Moving to the distribution stage, Samsung has replaced its plastic packaging and shrinkage with packaging made from bio-renewable materials to reduce packaging waste. The company is now also requiring its paper suppliers to obtain forest stewardship certification, and after these efforts, it was able to completely replace all paper used in brochures and packaging for its mobile devices and consumer electronics products by the end of 2020.
Samsung helps users reduce their electricity consumption during the use phase of the product life cycle by providing energy-efficient products, thus helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the company is making an ongoing effort to develop long-lasting products that can be fixed easily and quickly, because if consumers use their products for longer, they are making a difference by reducing their environmental impact.
Moving to the final stage of the product life cycle, waste, Samsung continues to lead in waste collection and recycling programs around the world, currently operating in 55 different countries. US users, for example, can leave their mobile devices at the end of their useful life at any of the more than 500 locations of uBreakiFix, an independent repair chain. Similarly, the company also plans to expand its closed-loop recycling system to recover and reuse more iron, copper and plastic from e-waste.
Reducing 301 million tons of greenhouse gases through initiative and innovation
Through its product stewardship practices, Samsung has reduced average energy consumption per unit of product by 32%, which equates to a cumulative reduction of 301 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the past 12 years since 2009. The company has also recycled more of 4.54 million tons of e-waste through its global e-waste collection sites from 2009 to 2020.
To encourage customers to use its products for longer as part of a circular economy, Samsung has created a quick and easy repair process for users, through which the company provides information and product repair parts to service shops and contract repairs as well as independent repair shops.
Preserving user values through creative, environmentally conscious reuse
Besides using only environmentally conscious practices in the development of its products, Samsung has made various efforts to reduce the use of resources across all of its supply lines in order to promote more sustainable consumption.
Last year, Samsung introduced its revolutionary environmental packaging on its TV products, made of cardboard in an effort to encourage recycling and creativity in users, where they can create animals or small pieces of furniture using their discarded packaging.
In addition, Samsung recently launched the Galaxy Upcycling at Home program, which allows users to take advantage of their unused Galaxy smartphones as IoT devices, in Korea, the US, and the UK. The program also repurposes old smartphones as medical diagnostic cameras, helping to treat cases of vision impairment that can be prevented with proper diagnosis.
At Samsung, we are committed to creating a sustainable future that provides a better life for all by delivering innovative and green products and solutions in all areas of our business. With a focus on sustainable management, we put carbon reduction, resource trading, and ecosystem restoration at the forefront of our efforts to protect the environment.
Written by Senior Vice President Hyungnam Kim, Director of the Global Computer Science Center, Samsung Electronics