Samsung Takes a Leaf out of ISO14001's book; Moves away from Single-use Plastics

Samsung is the latest corporate giant to announce its intention to reduce its use of single-use plastics in the design, manufacture and packaging of its products.

From mid-2019, Samsung says that it will radically change the way in which its products are designed, and packaged. Included in the plastic cull is the packaging for all its products: from smartphones, tablets, televisions, to home appliances like washing machines, as well as an assortment of transistors, OLED screens and componentry that is sent to manufacturers around the globe.

The world’s largest smartphone manufacturer says it has listened to a number customer requests, as well as acknowledging that environmental concerns are becoming more of a hot-topic item with potential buyers.

It will also change the design of its phone and tablet charger, doing away with a glossy exterior, for a matte finish; eliminating the need for a layer of plastic protection film.

Samsung has detailed some of the plans for new packaging methods and ingredients. “For mobile phone, tablet and wearable products, Samsung will replace the plastic used for holder trays with pulp moulds, and bags wrapping accessories with eco-friendly materials. Samsung will also alter the phone charger design, swapping the glossy exterior with a matte finish and eliminating plastic protection films, reducing the use of plastics.”

In terms of larger items, Samsung says that: “the plastic bags used to protect the surface of home appliances such as TVs, refrigerators, air conditioners and washing machines as well as other kitchen appliances will also be replaced with bags containing recycled materials and bioplastics, which are respectively made from plastic wastes and non-fossil fuel materials like starch or sugar cane.”

According to reports, citing statistics from market research group, IDC, Samsung sold 291-million smartphones, and consumed as much as 590,000-tonnes of plastic in 2017 alone. In that time, recycled plastics accounted for just 6% of the electronic giant’s plastic consumption.

Under the current policy, Samsung is aiming to “set a mid-term implementation plan to only use paper packing materials certified by forestry initiatives by next year. By 2030, Samsung aims use 500,000-tonnes of recycled plastics and collect 7.5-million tonnes of discarded products.”

Sherisse Pham of CNN Business says that “consumer giants including Procter & Gamble and Nestlé are backing a project called Loop, which aims to reuse containers for popular products like detergent and ice cream containers.

Samsung has issued a statement saying: “under the company’s sustainability policy, Samsung plans to minimise and replace packaging with environmentally-sustainable materials.”

Samsung’s head of Global Customer Satisfaction, Gyeong-bin Jeon says that “Samsung Electronics is stepping up in addressing society’s environmental issues such as resource depletion and plastic wastes.”

“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.”

The fact that this quote is coming from a person in that position represents a large consumer-trend away from single-use plastics, toward more sustainable practices. This is very much required, even mandated at times by a system like ISO 14001.

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