Samsung aims to make global operations and products carbon neutral by 2050

Image Credits: Chung Sung-Jun (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Samsung announced Thursday it will invest more than $5 billion (7 trillion KRW) in its carbon-neutral projects and environmental technologies through 2030, aiming to make its global operations and products net zero carbon emission by 2050 in an effort to tackle the climate crisis.

The company says the strategy includes reducing emissions from the production process and power/water consumption throughout the entire product lifecycle, from raw material sourcing to recycling and disposal.

Samsung plans to remove Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions for all operations in the device experience (DX) business, which includes consumer electronics such as mobile devices, TVs, digital appliances and health equipment, with a goal of reducing about 17 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions by 2030. (Scope 1 means direct emissions from sources owned by a company such as a power plant or a fleet of cars; Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the generation of energy a company purchases like electricity, cooling, heat and steam.) Its device solution (DS) division -- the memory chip and foundry business -- also targets eliminating carbon emissions across global operations by 2050.

The announcement follows criticisms by activists and investors over the tech giant’s slow reduction of fossil fuel reliance, which accounts for more than 80% of its electricity use.

“Samsung is responding to the threats of climate change with a comprehensive plan that includes reducing emissions, new sustainability practices and the development of innovative technologies and products that are better for our planet,” vice chairman and CEO of Samsung Electronics Jong-Hee Han said in a statement.

Samsung has joined the global initiative for corporations committed to using 100% renewable energy, RE100, in which global smartphone and semiconductor makers like Apple, TSMC and Microsoft also participated in the natural reduction commitments. Microsoft announced in 2020 its plans to make carbon negative by 2030; Apple said last year it would commit to carbon neutrality by 2030. Critics have accused some corporations of greenwashing, over similar carbon neutrality claims. As ever, it's important to continue to monitor the company's efforts as they progress.

In addition to its investment announcement, the South Korean electronic company has been making efforts to get consumers to recycle via its recycling program. Samsung aims to double down on using recycled plastic in its devices, to 50% of all plastic by 2030 and 100% by 2050. The company has already used recycled materials such as discarded fishing nets for plastics in the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy S22. Samsung says it will continue collecting used smartphones or electronic waste in about 180 countries for the next decade to reuse them for other purposes, such as IoT devices.

2050 is obviously less aggressive than 2030, but Samsung has such a massive manufacturing operation it's going to take a long and heavy lift to get there. After all, they make the components that appear in other companies' devices.