Samsung facing the urgency of the ecological transition

All the digital giants make ecological promises. Ours ? Nope ! According to several analysts, a large South Korean group still seems resistant to the sirens of climate responsibility: Samsung.

Samsung is under pressure. Despite excellent figures for the first quarter of 2022, the manufacturer of smartphones (and ovens, and fridges, and washing machines…) is starting to come under scrutiny because of its ecological commitments. Or rather because of its lack of ecological commitment, indicates several observers of the sector.

Samsung faces a “systemic” problem

While Apple has promised to achieve (almost) carbon neutrality by 2030, while Google is concerned about the carbon footprint of its devices, Samsung is surprisingly behind on these subjects. If the company works with”100% renewable energy in the United States, Europe and China“, as the brand claims, in South Korea, its country of origin, the situation is very different, which could harm the company, according to several observers.

Environmental issues will soon emerge as a systemic risk“, explains Kim Young woo, an analyst at the firm SK Securities.If Samsung fails to meet environmental and social standards, overseas consumers may not even consider buying their products“, says the South Korean specialist.

A demand for greener products

In France, this reasoning is beginning to settle slowly with the growth of the refurbished industry, driven in part by ecological considerations. According to a survey conducted by ADEME and published in January 2022, “27% of respondents say they already boycott products or companies [pour lutter contre le changement climatique] and 50% could do it.“Unfortunately, Samsung has some catching up to do on this.

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According to the FinancialTimes, the company would have emitted 29,532 tonnes of CO² equivalent in 2020, a quantity comparable to that of a country like Norway. The company is a particular emitter of greenhouse gases, because it is powered by inexpensive, but very low-carbon, national electricity. Wind and solar energy represent only 4.7% of the electricity produced in the country. Result, much of the energy consumed by Samsung comes from fossil fuels and coal. A dependency that is incompatible with firm ecological commitments.

It should be noted, however, that Samsung has recently made progress on the durability of its products. Its high-end phones have a relatively good repairability rating and the manufacturer is making efforts on software monitoring. The problem lies more upstream, during construction, than on the product itself.

A communication that is lacking

Unfortunately, Samsung’s communication on the subject is not ideal. It could be that the manufacturer signs a commitment to transform its supply chain into a green industry, but the details of such a commitment are not communicated for the time being. It seems difficult for Samsung to take the most restrictive path – “Scope 3”, which takes into account the carbon footprint of the product from construction to dumpster – given the situation. And this while Apple was happy to communicate on this subject. “Even with a new commitment, shareholders are watching very closely to see what the scope is, given the assuring silence that has reigned so far.“, pointed one of the shareholders of Samsung to the FinancialTimes.

And no question of having recourse to the greenwashing to soften the image of the brand. Samsung France has already been the subject of two complaints for “misleading commercial practice”. One was filed in 2019, the other in 2020. Both were aimed at promises regarding “the social and environmental responsibility of the company“. The first complaint was considered inadmissible, but it gives an idea of ​​the level of requirement that Samsung will have to reach if it wants to stay in the race.

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