Samsung’s lack of transparency on the disposal of Galaxy Note 7 leaves tonnes of precious minerals at risk of being discarded into the environment.
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, 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.
No official decision
Samsung has yet to make an official statement fully explaining the causes of the fault in its Galaxy Note 7, despite announcing a global recall 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?
‘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.’
Senior IT campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia
Galaxy Note 7 recall
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 number of phones sold, at a total of 1 million – Samsung mentioned that its existing mobile take-back programme does not apply to the Galaxy Note 7, but has not stated how it will deal with the phones or whether the phones will go through recycling or smelting programmes.