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Greenpeace welcomes recycled Galaxy Note 7

Decision by Samsung to recycle 'exploding' Note 7 saves resources, but more work need on device longevity, says Greenpeace

Greenpeace says more should be done to extend the life of smart devices to cut wastage.
Greenpeace says more should be done to extend the life of smart devices to cut wastage.

Greenpeace has welcomed Samsung's decision to refurbish its Galaxy Note 7 phones rather than send them to landfill.

The environmental pressure group said the move to sell 400,000 refurbished phones was a positive step, but that Samsung needs to do more to extend the life of its devices and make them more repairable.

Over 4.3 million Galaxy Note 7 devices were recalled in September last year after a fault caused batteries to explode, leading to numerous fires and ban on taking Samsung devices on aircraft. Samsung has announced it will sell the Galaxy Note 7 ‘Fan Edition', made from salvaged parts, in a limited run only available in South Korea.

Greenpeace had campaigned to convince Samsung not to just dump the phones but to recycle them. 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.

A spokesperson for Greenpeace said that the move will save valuable resources, but the Samsung needs to consider designing devices that last longer and that are easier to repair.

"We welcome the news that Samsung is following up with its commitment to refurbish the Note 7, instead of wasting tonnes of precious resources," said Jude Lee, Global Senior Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia. "Samsung must communicate as soon as possible how the remaining phones will be recycled and what components will be reused, along with more detailed timelines on when it will implement all its promises.

"Samsung needs to clarify how it will not repeat the mistakes it made with the Galaxy Note 7, maximise resource efficiency and ultimately make longer lasting products. The latest Galaxy S8 still fails on repairability compared to other brands. With its edge to edge glass on the front and back, the phone is prone to breaking, and its battery is glued to the device, making it difficult to replace.

"We know that the recall of 4.3 million Note 7 could have been avoided if the phone's design allowed the battery to be more easily removed. We urge Samsung to design phones that are easier to repair, refurbish, and upgrade," Lee added.

In November Greenpeace launched a global petition which gathered thousands of signatures worldwide, asking Samsung not to dump the phones and instead transparently implement a sustainable recycling system. In February Greenpeace Spain activists crashed Samsung press conference at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, asking the company to reuse, recycle and rethink the way the phones are produced.

Greenpeace has also conducted research into the repairability of leading smart phone brands, as part of a campaign to encourage the industry to produce longer-lasting devices.