The Korea Herald


Samsung vows to replace all plastics in Galaxy phones with recycled materials by 2050

Using recycled materials may cost more, but the tech giant says it will bear the burden without raising product prices

By Jo He-rim

Published : Feb. 13, 2023 - 15:47

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Recycled parts used in Samsung’s latest Galaxy S23 smartphones (Samsung Electronics) Recycled parts used in Samsung’s latest Galaxy S23 smartphones (Samsung Electronics)

Samsung Electronics, the largest smartphone maker in the world by shipment, vowed Monday to replace all plastics used in its Galaxy smartphones to recycled materials by 2050, highlighting its latest Galaxy S series, which has been made with the highest number of recyclables to date.

At the same time, the company said it will bear the cost of converting the recycled materials using special technologies and that it will not transfer the cost burden to consumers.

“Samsung Electronics is continuing its effort to minimize negative impacts on the earth and the environment while maintaining product quality,” Park Seong-sun, executive vice president in charge of device development at Samsung's Mobile Experience, said in a briefing.

Unveiled this month, The Galaxy S23 Ultra, Samsung's latest flagship smartphone, has adopted the highest number of recyclable parts in Galaxy phones to date, with a total of 12 parts, even using them in exterior components for the first time, Park said.

The previous Galaxy S22 Ultra had a total of six parts made of recycled materials, but they were all for internal components.

The latest Galaxy model also used new kinds of renewable materials other than the fishing nets and plastics used in the previous series -- pre-consumer recycled aluminum, glass and water barrels, Park said.

The new model’s S-pen cover and speaker module in the lower part of the device have taken 20 percent of its materials from post-consumer recycled plastics sourced from discarded fishing nets. Samsung said it expects to collect and recycle some 15 tons of fishing nets this year to make its mobile components.

The new S series is the first to feature Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2, of which 22 percent is made from recycled glass. The glass offers durability for long-term use and consisting of an average of 22 percent pre-consumer recycled content.

Some 20 percent of the upper and bottom speaker modules, as well as the buttons on the side, have taken 20 percent of its materials from recycled PET bottles, while the exterior front case utilized 10 percent of its materials from recycled PET bottles, the company said.

The recycled PET bottles were also used to make up 10 percent of the front exterior case of the device, and 80 percent for the thin film used inside the rear glass. Recycled aluminum was used to make the side buttons and the SIM card tray.

In addition, every Galaxy S23 smartphone comes in a redesigned packaging box made with 100 percent recycled paper, the company said.

Using the recycled materials incurs extra costs, as special technologies are needed to convert the materials into usable ones. But Samsung said it will not raise the price of the products for customers.

“The recycling and manufacturing processes are very sophisticated and it does cost a lot to convert the materials to what can be used in our gadgets,” Park said.

“But we see it as part of our corporate social responsibility, so we will not reflect that cost and raise the price of the products. It is our goal to minimize any price rise and not transfer the cost to the consumers."

By Jo He-rim (