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You Did It! Samsung Commits to Recycling Millions of Recalled Galaxy Smartphones

Business

By Jude Lee

After five months of people-powered actions around the world, Samsung pulled its head out of the sand and committed to recycling the millions of Galaxy Note 7 phones it recalled. This is a huge win for the hundreds of thousands of people who took action.


Here's what Samsung's committed to do in a nutshell: Samsung will refurbish non-problematic components of the Galaxy Note 7, such as the camera and alarms, so they can be used and resold in future phones. For components that can't be repurposed, the company will extract and recycle the raw materials in an environmentally-sound way.

Samsung also announced it will participate in new research led by the European Union aimed at developing a new environmentally friendly technology to recycle smartphones. Let's see where this goes, but for now, it's good news.

If It Wasn't for You, These Phones Would've Been Wasted

But thankfully, hundreds of thousands of you signed the petition and sent messages to the company's CEO, demanding the company release a plan for recycling these smartphones and move away from its wasteful business model in making short lived devices. People also took action with us online, calling on Samsung to #SaveTheGalaxy and in February, activists in Barcelona took this message straight to the company, holding up banners inside and outside of Samsung's press conference at the Mobile World Congress.

Greenpeace protests outside the Palau de Congresos de Cataluña (Catalunya Palace of Congress) during the presentation of Samsung ahead of the Mobile World Congress.Pablo Blazquez / Greenpeace

This Win is Proof That Together, We Are Powerful

At present, electronics production and consumption is incredibly problematic.

Tonnes of precious raw materials go into making throwaway electronics that are impossible to repair and purposefully designed not to last, leading to millions of gadgets being bought and thrown away as e-waste every year. Electronics factories are mostly powered by dirty energy like coal, which contributes to global warming and most electronics are made by workers using hazardous chemicals, which have tremendous impacts on their health and on the health of the local environment.

Greenpeace activists create satirical scenes to show the explosion of the Galaxy Note 7 as well as how the device can be recycled at the front gate of the Samsung Electronics' headquarters in Suwon.Jung Taekyong / Greenpeace

It Doesn't Have to Be This Way

As IT companies have shown again and again, technology and creativity can be used as powerful forces to transit from an outdated business model towards a more sustainable one. Leading IT companies can become the greatest advocates for a closed-loop production model and a renewably-powered future. The brightest designers can create toxic-free gadgets to last, be repaired and ultimately transformed into something new.

Samsung's announcement is the first step to show its effort to set a new path for recycling smartphones starting with Note 7s. Greenpeace will make sure Samsung takes into account the voice of millions of our supporters and abides by its commitment.

It's time our gadgets are as innovative for the planet as they are for our lives. Greenpeace will soon score smartphone brands to see just how repairable they are—and we'll continue tracking how companies like Samsung live up to their promises. Stay tuned!

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Protesters gathered outside US Bank and Wells Fargo locations around the U.S. to protest investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline on Dec. 1, 2016. This photo is from a protest outside US Bank in south Minneapolis, Minnesota. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

By Jake Johnson

As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.


Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.

AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.

"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."


The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.

"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.

As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."

"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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