How Samsung scored in our Greener Electronics Guide

Feature Story - 2011-11-08
Do you own any Samsung products, or planning to buy any? The company recently landed themselves on Greenpeace's 'Greener Electronics Guide'. Greenpeace's Guide ranks electronics companies on their environmental performance in three areas: use of green energy, how green their products are, and how green their manufacturing processes. Take a look at how Samsung fared.

Greener Electronics Guide

Samsung, South Korea.
Ranking: 7
Score: 4.1/10

Samsung takes 7th position in the re-launched Guide. The penalty point which was first imposed in v.14 of the Guide for backtracking on its commitment to eliminate brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in new models of all products by January 2010 and PVC vinyl plastic by end of 2010 has been lifted. It now has notebooks, mobile phones and MP3 players that are free from these substances, but its commitment to phase out hazardous substances now only covers some product groups – TVs and household appliances are no longer included. Samsung does reasonably well on other Products criteria – it is one of the leaders on the new product life cycle criteria for providing information on its warranties and provision of spare parts as well as details of innovations. Samsung also scores well for the energy efficiency of its products, but it risks a penalty point in future Guide editions as it is a member of a trade association that has commented against stringent energy efficiency standards; it needs to distance itself from such regressive positions with a strong statement.

On Energy Samsung scores maximum points for providing verified data on its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Samsung has set a target to "reduce the GHG emissions by 24 percent compared to 'business as usual' by 2015" from its operations, but does not have a target for cutting absolute emissions, which needs to at least 30 percent by 2015. Its current use of renewable energy is low, at 0.1 percent of global electricity use; it plans to increase this in line with the Korean government's plans for 6.9 percent renewable energy by 2020, however this is not its own target; it needs to set an ambitious target to increase its own use of renewable energy globally by 2020. On lobbying for a clean energy policy, Samsung gets a point for its support for cuts in GHG emissions by industrialised countries of at least 30 percent as a group by 2020.

Samsung scores most of its points for Sustainable Operations for its relatively good e-waste take-back programme and information; it needs to extend this further to cover its whole product range and to report on its recycling rate beyond Korea. It also reports on the GHG emissions of most of its 1st tier suppliers in Korea, and has plans to extend this to global suppliers in the near future. Samsung’s chemicals policy has mechanisms to identify future substances of concern; it describes its supply chain management for chemicals but does not have a restricted substances list for manufacturing. It is in the process of signing a compliance agreement with its suppliers that prohibits the use of conflict minerals and it needs to publicly map its smelters or suppliers. On paper, Samsung scores a point for reporting on its paper use and aiming to increase the use of FSC paper; it needs to develop a paper procurement policy which excludes suppliers that are involved in deforestation and illegal logging.