My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How Samsung removing Plastic Packaging can Spur Jamaican Organic Waste Recycling

Friday, February 22, 2019

How Samsung removing Plastic Packaging can Spur Jamaican Organic Waste Recycling

“This is not the first move into sustainable packaging the company has made; Samsung has been introducing environmentally friendly packaging to its notebook computer line since 2018. Going forward, Samsung looks to expand this ‘eco-conscious packaging’ initiative into its wider product lines, including its mobile devices, wearables, TVs, refrigerators and other home appliance products,”

Samsung in a news release declaring that they are banning plastic packaging. 

Plastic Bags are a problem. So too is plastic packaging...and at least one company is taking action

Samsung Electronics is implementing sustainable packaging practices for its products to reduce plastic consumption and waste as reported in the article “Samsung Electronics Adopts New Product Packaging Policy, Steps Up Commitment To Sustainability”, published Thursday February 14, 2019, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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Samsung has already begun the switch to more environmentally-friendly packaging since 2019 for all products in their portfolio, as pointed out by Samsung in their Press Release, quote: “Additionally, in order to further support full-cycle sustainability, Samsung has committed to only use sustainable forest management-certified paper materials in its packaging and manuals by 2020”.

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Samsung will replace plastic with the following alternatives:

1.      Moulded pulp trays
2.      Recycled paper containers
3.      Recycled plastic and bio-based bags
4.      Fossil fuel-free materials like starch for bags

So why is this happening?

Samsung and Plastic Packaging - Imported products still packaged in Styrofoam

This is very good to hear as according to information out of the United Nations, since the 1950s:

1.      8 million tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans each year
2.      8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced
3.      1% of that figure comes from renewable, non-fossil fuel-based resources

Thus countries like Jamaica banning single-use plastic bags, straws and Styrofoam is a response to the growing threat of plastic to our Environment and sectors that are dependent on the environment, such as the Tourism Sector as noted in my blog article entitled “How the Jamaican Plastic Ban is creating Entrepreneurs but Styrofoam Alternatives needed”.

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But as I had pointed out in that article, a lot of single-use plastic and Styrofoam is still coming into Jamaica in the form of imported products that are packaged using these plastics. Jamaica has no power to ban them, so they have to act on conscience.

So what caused Samsung to make this announcement?

Samsung and the EU - Largest market means Organic packaging in demand

Samsung is clearly patterning their moves after the European Union.

Earlier in October 2018, they had declared that they would also be banning Single-use plastic within their country by 2021 as reported in the article “Single-use plastics ban approved by European Parliament”, published 24 October 2018, BBC.

The European Union happens to be their biggest customer outside of the US of A. For them, this is not just out of concern over the environment, but out of fear of their products being banned from this large developing market that seems to like their products, especially the S9 that I had recently test driven as noted in my Geezam blog article entitled “Samsung Galaxy S9 Hands on –Matryoshka doll in a Mercedes 300SL”.

In their press Release, Samsung also said, “This commitment to sustainable practices in product packaging is part of a wider series of midterm initiatives put in place by Samsung to transform the way the company manages its resources.”

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Whatever their motivation, this may also be good for Jamaica as well, as we can get into the making some of these alternative packaging solutions.

Moulded pulp is a fusion material that uses no wood fibres. It incorporates waste by-products such as sugar cane residue, basically making it possible to recycle everything from wood waste cuttings and sugar cane trash or bagasse and even paper to make packaging....

Jamaica now needs to gear up for another new initiative - collecting and recycling paper to make packaging!

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