Sustainable businesses are a corporate priority that seeks sustainability by promoting the company's initiatives in the social, economic and environmental fields beyond profit. At the beginning of the 21st century, when the demand for corporate social responsibility increased in the field of the environment, sustainable business became an essential paradigm for the survival of a company. Samsung Electronics was no exception. This year, Samsung celebrates its 50th anniversary and continues its best efforts to fulfill its duty as citizens of the world in the areas of the environment, product responsibility, sustainable supply chains and social contribution. Samsung's Global Press Room details the company's sustainability-oriented activities in an exclusive series that begins with green initiatives.
The importance of a company of the size of Samsung Electronics doing environmentally friendly activities cannot be underestimated by the potential to lead the way towards mitigating global problems such as climate change and resource depletion. For this reason, activities and initiatives related to the environment are at the heart of Samsung's sustainable business practices.
The adoption of an ecological approach since the 1990s
Since its 1992 Environmental Declaration, Samsung Electronics has managed its “green” business in order to fulfill its environmental responsibilities by understanding that any expense aimed at combating environmental problems is not an optional corporate investment, but necessary.
In 1998, the company established its own electronic waste recovery and recycling centers to promote the efficient use of waste products, which made it a pioneer in the home appliance sector. In 2004, the company made progress in the development of environmentally friendly products by introducing the Ecological Design Process, an evaluation that considers the energy efficiency, resource efficiency and environmental damage of a potential product since the beginning of the development cycle In 2005, Samsung's Environment Analysis Lab was established to implement a system that tracks whether hazardous substances have been included in the product development process, from specific parts and components to finished products.
As a result of these initiatives, in 2009, Samsung was able to present Green Memory, a semiconductor solution of high speed, low power and high reliability. If all global servers had implemented the 5G Green Memory Solution since 2014, 45 TWh of electricity would have been saved per year and the environmental effect would be equivalent to planting 800 million 10-year-old trees. Samsung's Quantum Dot TV, launched in 2016, was the first television product not to use cadmium, a material that is considered harmful to both the human body and the environment. These competitive advantages remained in the launch of QLED TV in 2017 and QLED 8K in 2018, which made Samsung a market leader in terms of industrial innovation and sustainability.
Also, the program Galaxy Samsung Upcycling offers an alternative method for the circulation of resources by reusing smartphones used as IoT devices with new functions. The company continues to propagate this type of effort, which has generated worldwide recognition and the obtaining of the ‘Champion Award: Cutting Edge’ of the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2017, for its innovative work in the sustainability of electronic products.
Samsung practices on commercial operations and sustainable products
Since the Kyoto Protocol of 2005, which aims to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, Samsung has accelerated its efforts to help reduce emissions. In 2009, Samsung announced its vision of green businesses and its intermediate goals to lead the global response to this environmental regulation with a focus on low carbon emissions and “green” growth.
From 2009 to 2018, the use of high efficiency products caused the company to reduce its cumulative greenhouse gas emissions by 243.1 million tons. This is equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions from the consumption of refrigerators of 1.5 billion people over a whole year.(i) By establishing a circular resource economy system, as of last year 54 countries participated in taking back end-of-life products from Samsung customers. Between 2009 and 2018, about 3.55 million tons of electronic waste were collected cumulatively through the return program. In addition, a cumulative amount of 220,000 tons of recycled plastic returned to Samsung products in the same period.
With 216 commercial bases in 74 countries, Samsung not only works in the environmental impact management of its products, but also in the development of environmentally friendly commercial establishments. In June 2018, Samsung announced its goal of using 100% renewable energy in all its establishments in the United States, Europe and China by 2020, as well as implementing 63,000 ㎡ of facilities with solar and geothermal energy in Korea. In October 2018, Samsung headquarters in the US The US, as well as all the device solution manufacturing plants in the country adopted energy from 100% renewable sources and the company's work spaces in Slovakia have followed this example.
The conquests of the ecological businesses of Samsung Electronics in the last 10 years are summarized in the following infographic.
(i) This figure is calculated from global sales and greenhouse gas emissions per product based on the average energy consumption of domestic refrigerator models sold by Samsung Electronics in 2018.