While Samsung is set to lose a lot of money over what happened with the Note 7, the cost to the environment will be far greater.
In an interview with Motherboard, a Samsung spokesperson told the publication that the company will not repair or refurbish of any one of the more than 2.5 million Note 7 devices it manufactured prior to this week’s global recall. Instead, the company says it has “a process in place to safely dispose of the phones.”
While it may seem unintuitive, the fact Samsung that will attempt to recycle all of the Note 7s it manufactured is likely to be disastrous for the environment.
As Motherboard points out, the tools and methods companies like Samsung and Apple have in place to recycle complicated electronics are extremely inefficient. While a smartphone like the Note 7 may weigh less than 1 pound, it takes about 165 pounds of raw mined material to manufacture it. Many of those materials, particularly the rare earth metals, become unusable when broken down into raw material.
“These are all very expensive in terms of the environmental impact, but also in the lives they impact to mine them,” said iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens to Motherboard writer Jason Koebler. He then added, “having to say without any of them having been used at all that they have to go straight to the recycler is really sad.”
In total, Samsung has manufactured 2 million Note 7s, with 20,000 of that number being sold in Canada.
While we don’t know for sure, it’s possible there could soon be a landfill out there, likely somewhere near Samsung’s headquarters, full of millions of Note 7s, just like the urban legend — which actually turned out to be true — where Atari buried thousands of ET Atari 2600 cartridges in a New Mexico landfill in the mid 1980s.
Patrick O’Rourke also contributed to this story.