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Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall is horrible news for the environment

Samsung has confirmed it plans to ‘safely dispose of’ the recalled Galaxy Note 7 handsets, many of which are now on their way back to the company in fireproof boxes.

A company representative confirmed to Motherboard it has no plans to recycle or salvage materials used to build the ill-fated device.

“We have a process in place to safely dispose of the phones,” the spokesperson said.

However, while on the surface that might appear to be the responsible thing to do, it actually is not.

As the excellent and well-researched Motherboard report points out, a lot of rare and difficult to mine earth elements used to make the phone will be lost for good.

Related: Best Galaxy Note 7 alternatives

These are all very expensive in terms of the environmental impact, but also in the lives they impact to mine them,” iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens says.

The elements include “things like indium from touch screens, rare earths like neodymium in the magnets in the speaker and microphone. Cobalt in the battery from the Congo,” Wiens added.

In a sustainability report published this year, Samsung revealed 52 per cent of the environmental impact of its Galaxy S6 came in the pre-manufacturing stage – the sourcing of materials.

Benjamin Sprecher, an expert in the field of recycling rare earth materials added: “Smartphones are not really recycled (the rare earth elements, anyway), so you’d lose almost all the interesting stuff in those smartphones.”

Effectively, regardless of the cost to Samsung and the damage to its reputation, the true cost has been to the environment and the wasted resources that went into building 2.5 million Note 7’s destined for disposal.

Will you trust Samsung smartphones in the future? Share your thoughts below.

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