Samsung will sell refurbished Galaxy Note 7 phones, recycle others

samsung note 7
CC BY 2.0 JeepersMedia

One of the biggest tech stories last year was the spontaneous combustion of Samsung's newest smartphone the Galaxy Note 7. After several reports of the phones catching on fire, the electronics company recalled the 3 million phones it had already sold and pulled over a million from the market.

Samsung carried out investigations and found that faulty batteries from two different suppliers were the culprit behind the fires. Since then, environmental organizations including Greenpeace, have been putting pressure on the company to release a plan for how it will be dealing with the millions of unused or slightly used phones as disposing of an entire line of phones could be a huge e-waste disaster.

Yesterday, Samsung announced that they will be selling refurbished Note 7 phones with new safe batteries as well as reusing parts from the ones they don't sell. Although this way Samsung can recoup some of the billions of dollars in profits it lost due to the phone's failure, the company says that the decision was "solely to reduce and minimize any environmental impact."

Greenpeace sees this as a victory.

"People around the world signed petitions, emailed Samsung's CEO, demonstrated in cities around the world, and finally Samsung has listened," said Jude Lee of Greenpeace East Asia.

"This is major win for everyone that took action, and a step towards shifting the way we produce and dispose of electronics."

Samsung hasn't released details about the refurbished phones like price, name or any other features, but it did say that they won't be for rent or sale in the U.S. Reports have stated that the refurbished phones will hit the market in Asia first and then potentially move into other markets.

As for the recalled phones that won't be fixed and resold, which will likely make up the bulk of the units, the company will recover and either use or sell their components like the chips and camera modules as well as any metals like copper, gold, nickel and silver.

Below is the video circulated by Greenpeace last year to put pressure on Samsung to deal with these phones in an environmentally safe way.

Samsung will sell refurbished Galaxy Note 7 phones, recycle others
This avoids a huge wave of e-waste from the failed phones.

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