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Samsung to Replace Plastic Packaging with Sustainable Materials (samsung.com)
190 points by xbmcuser 20 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 57 comments

Most of us might dismiss it as marketing speak but I do think most consumer good manufacturers should do the same especially for 1 time use packaging for electronics

I agree, but the most wasteful packaging is for food. I throw out small amounts of electronics packaging a few times in a few years. I throw out heaps of food packaging every week.

Catch 22 situation. Many plastic wrapped objects last longer than paper/non wrapped objects leading to less waste at the store.

Bioplastics would be a suitable replacement, and if properly incentivized, local municipalities could collect it in a separated waste stream for conversion to energy (which would contribute towards offsetting the collection cost).

With China no longer accepting dirty recyclables from the US which are terribly hard to process we're probably on our way back to multi-stream recycling. Sad fact is that apparently the recycling truck is one of the worst causes of contamination when it compacts otherwise good recyclables. It's a bit more effort and a significantly higher rate of trash versus recycling, but in the end I think it would be worth it. Your idea has merit as well, though last I knew bioplastics still had some problems to solve in order to replace standard plastics, still worth pursuing.

Of course the somewhat simple alternative is to slightly change the consumer model, where you bring multi-purpose and longlasting packaging, they put the stuff in it. Dispensery type shops. That already exists in a few shops around Europe at least. You bring your container and fill it up with grain, liquids, whatever.

I can't really make up my mind on whether that would work for all food types. Maybe there's some heavily processed food that is dependent on being sealed until eating. I know potato chips bathe in nitrogen while sealed.

organic waste vs garbage with hundreds of years staying power

I wish Apple would switch from using expanded polystyrene inserts [1] to cardboard for their non-Pro iMac packaging. So much of this polystyrene must end up in landfills rather than being recycled.

The iMac Pro uses moulded cardboard inserts [2][3], so why can't the standard iMac?

[1] https://www.apple.com/environment/pdf/products/desktops/21.5...

[2] https://www.amsys.co.uk/week-imac-pro/

[3] https://youtu.be/UxuhecF-3c0?t=153

Absolutely agreed. While I was incredibly impressed by the design and quality of Nvidia shield tv packaging, it went into the trash and recycle bin pretty much immediately. It gave me a "oh wow" feeling of excitement, but really could have been sent in brown box and not made a difference that lasted more than 20 seconds.

Years ago I unpacked a Kindle from a brown box and that gave me a wow feeling. Sustainable packaging doesn’t have to be a bad experience.

I didn't mean that sustainable packing would be a bad experience. Just that Nvidia went overboard, sure it was slick and impressive, then it was thrown out. The amount of money and time that went into it was a complete waste of money.

Incidentally, the Japanese are very good at it.

For some reason, I found the packaging of everything better in Japan, even for the most simple items. Among the best are the ones made of paper and cardboard.

And on top of that, remove most of the paper manuals that come with the phones. They can be put as .pdf files, right on the phones.

Phones come with paper manuals? Isn't the bulk of the paperwork that comes with electronic devices like that compliance/regulatory documents in like 13 different languages?

I'm under the impression that sustainable paper isn't that bad on the environment.

But the manuals adds weight and bulk, which contributes to CO2 when shipped.

I agree tho. My mom just got her first smart phone, a Samsung S8+. She's 72 years old, she'll figure it out but not thanks to that tiny booklet that came with the phone. If she needed the manual, I'd have to print it out on A4 paper or something anyway.

>But the manuals adds weight and bulk, which contributes to CO2 when shipped.

I suspect that that is a rounding error next to the manufacture of the phone itself.

For fun I ran some ballpark figures, a 30 gram manual, 1 billion smartphones, primary shipping by sea, and it's on the order of 5000-10000 metric tons of CO2 to ship the manuals.

Sure, the "CO2 budget" is measured in gigatons so not a huge dent. But add up a lot of these rounding errors and it might actually make a slight difference. And since the climate interactions are non-linear, slight differences can have a large effect over time.

And from the figures I'm seeing, it'd be about 15,000,000 metric tons of CO2 for the manufacture of the phones to go with those manuals.

At first I was impressed by 30 billion grams (with little finger to mouth)

But that's only 30,000 tonnes.

10,000 tonnes of co2 for 30,000 tonnes of cargo seems... Wrong.

This seems to back me up https://timeforchange.org/co2-emissions-shipping-goods

10 - 40g co2 per tonne. So about an order of magnitude less.

Edit: Doh see below. This is per km

I used the same page :)

The key is it's per ton per km transported.

For reference, Shanghai to Rotterdam route (a bit of a worst case I guess) is just shy of 20000 km[1].

[1]: https://sea-distances.org/

You're right (sorry) wow so worst case 800kg of co2 / tonne. And that's excluding the return journey which is typically empty. So could well be 1:1!

Airfreight is 500g /tonne/km so 10 tonnes of co2 / tonne of freight.

Guess that's why co2 calculators always ask about flying.

I missed the per km at first as well.

Air freight is not clean indeed. Which leads to a kind of ironic situation here in Norway. Salmon export is hailed as one of the primary income sources once the oil is gone, yet significant portion of the salmon is exported via air to Asian markets. Not exactly a very green change...

Coudn't that be mitigated with factory ships that produce the product en route and drop off at the end location? Ship to ship transfer is easily possible. I'm honestly asking as I don't know the true logistics behind this, but I thought factory ships already existed and did this.

I should note that the 1 billion phone figure was the 2017 figures, 1.5 billion, minus half a billion I estimated for sales in China. Then again, inland transport in China may not very green so... anyway back of the envelope, order of magnitude stuff.

on the other hand,the pdf manuals i see are all bloated messes of technical jargon that i have to google search to understand-ofc the only time i need to look at the manual is when i can't figure out some behavior, like oneplus 6t's fingerprint scanner animation

The only paper documents I've seen with smartphones have been getting started guides that address initial setup, warranty documents, and advertising material for accessories.

Neither of the first two is suitable for being exclusively on the phone for obvious reasons.

When I get a product that comes with a paper manual, I scan the manual and throw the paper one away. I'd be fine if manuals were just URLs that I can download.

Marketing speak. The real thing they should do is committing for repairable phones (easy) and more importantly update-able phones (hard). So that users do not have to replace a perfectly working phone because they fear for their security.

While I totally agree, any step that eliminates plastic waste is a good move forward. Now if we can get this going across industries, think of how much waste that eliminates. Then once we get comfortable with this idea, start doing more.

I would much rather they rolled back some of their innovation in appliances so that you can no longer replace some consumables. Like heating elements, but now have to change a hugely expensive combined and indivisible unit.

The packaging is a step, I just sincerely hope it's not the only step for greenwashing purposes.

Smoking and getting regular exercise is still better than just smoking.

Or, as Stephen Schneider said when asked about Cap and Trade (in lieu of Carbon Taxes): Don't let the perfect get in the way of the good.

I'm not sure, is it better to have a repairable phone or a more reliable one? What if making it repairable requires more inputs to manufacture it? Even if you manage that will many users repair their phone?

What I suspect would make the biggest difference is to commit to software updates for six or seven years instead of one or two.

There is no current way to make a battery more reliable. It is very often the component that needs replacing. The other component would be the screen. Other than that there's not much across devices that fits "maintenance parts" categories as everything is at such a scale that it would be nearly impossible for a human to fix most things on the board, which is why they typically replace whole boards. Cell phone sales have dropped precipitously in recent years as innovation has slowed down. I don't expect folding phones to be the new hotness, rather an oddity, however the tech might make screens more durable which is a huge plus, batteries on the other hand are limited by physics, so we need replacements or new tech that lasts longer but provides the same or more power.

> So that users do not have to replace a perfectly working phone because they fear for their security.

Nobody does this, ever. Those who do fear for their security, runs LineageOS or similar, the rest care about the shiny features.

I have actually done this. I work in an IT related field so it's important to me. I suspect that I'm in a vanishingly small group of people though so your point is mostly valid.

Looking at the contents of trash toter every week, the bulk of it is packaging trash, not phones.

Can we force supermarkets to do the same somehow?

I'm pretty certain individually wrapped vegetables are causing more trouble, than phone packaging.

The news response from supermarket chains where I live is that individually packaged fruit and vegetables helps reduce supply chain food waste.

Makes sense (e.g. one squashed tomato during transport will only waste one package) - no idea if it is true though.

Why wrap fruits and vegetables at all? They come to the store in boxes that ensure they aren't damaged in transport, I don't see the need for another layer of packaging. The only vegetable I buy in a package is lettuce, which would probably dry out pretty quickly if it wasn't in something.

It might reduce food waste, but it creates plastic waste. I would rather have the former than the latter. Food waste composts, plastic waste does not.

Then put them in paper cradles, like we do with eggs.

Consumers wont buy it if plastic wrapped options are allowed. Clear plastic allows transparency into the object that is being purchased while at the same protecting from external contamination. For example a clear plastic egg carton allows you to see if any eggs are broken without risking getting egg goo on you.

You can look on the underside of the egg carton to see if any of them are wet from broken egg leaking into it, or open the carton and gently lift each egg to see if they stick.

But I do agree that humans are pretty likely to take the easy choice here, which is why we need to take those choices away so we can more easily make the better choices.

So do paper, just open it. Works fine in Europe.

I'm surprised that plastic egg boxes are still legal.


It goes straight to landfill/fire and is more fragile than the paper pulp/cardboard counterpart :/

I suspect it just moves the waste, and perhaps more, to the home.

If you now have to buy a kilo bag, instead of the few you think you'll need for the next week or two, you'll probably be throwing some deteriorated produce along with the plastic bags.

For onions and spuds plastic is a poor choice anyway as they should be able to breathe. Better still, unwashed, as with carrots. Why, oh why, do supermarkets insist on washing off natural protection?

> I'm pretty certain individually wrapped vegetables are causing more trouble, than phone packaging.

Unless you are referring to coating with food-grade wax as “wrapped”, individually-wrapped vegetables seem to be by far the exception rather than the rule in supermarkets.

It's to prevent food waste. For example, a wrapped cucumber lasts three times as long.

At what point do we decide that having a one-time use plastic wrapper, that will last a thousand years or so, is worth using to make a perishable good last 3x as long? Was this an issue when food was still grown relatively close to the market in which it was being sold? None of the vegetables at the local farmers markets I've been to are wrapped in plastic, with few exceptions (cut off 1/2 a cantaloupe because it had a nasty bad spot). And the food actually has flavor. The flavor part is what made me actually stop purchasing produce from regular stores. It is utterly bland next to something grown locally that hasn't had the flavor engineered out of it to allow it sit on some shelf (or warehouse) somewhere for a longer period time.


At least standardise on one (recyclable) plastic so its easier to sort.

We shouldn't be getting through so much electronics to make this a problem. This isn't getting to the root of the problem.

This is a great initiative.

I've emailed Amazon about stopping using plastic bubblewrap mailers, and use cardboard ones instead. No reply :-(

Samsung should make a laptop. Make it with as open as possible hardware and target the pro market. Offer a choice of Windows or no OS, and for Windows make it that no ads enterprise LTS version. Price it accordingly. They have the experience and supply chain to absolutely nail it. Bonus for an oled screen but large oleds might still be a bit tough.

Samsung and open hardware? OS choice? Sure. Besides, the already do a lot of laptops. They even had a promising business line - https://notebooks.com/2011/03/18/samsung-introduces-series-2... - , which vanished.

Unfortunetely they never were, and probably never will be dev friendly.

Samsung already make laptops.

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