Samsung getting rid of plastic packaging for phones, tablets, TVs

Company joins those pledging to reduce waste

By SOPHIE JEONG CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A sign outside the Samsung Electronics office in San Jose, California.

(CNN) - Samsung is joining a growing number of international companies that are pledging to reduce the amount of plastic waste from their businesses.

The world's largest smartphone maker is starting to ditch the plastic packaging typically used to wrap and protect electronic devices and appliances.

Starting in the first half of this year, Samsung phones, tablets and wearable devices will be packaged in paper, pulp molds and bio-based or recycled plastics, the company said in a statement Sunday. It will also alter the design of its phone charger, replacing the glossy exterior with a matte finish and ditching plastic protection films.

A company spokeswoman said the reduction of single-use plastics in Samsung's packaging will progress "gradually," adding that there is no timetable for when they will be phased out completely.

As the world struggles to deal with vast amounts plastic waste — plastics are expected to outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050 — more and more companies are trying to tackle the problem.

Samsung sold about 291 million smartphones last year, according to data from market research firm IDC. It also sold millions of other consumer products.

The plastic bags used to protect the surface of Samsung's large home appliances — washing machines, refrigerators, TVs and air conditioners — will be swapped out for bags made of recycled materials and bioplastics, which are made from non-fossil fuel materials like starch or sugar cane.

Samsung still uses a lot of plastic material to make the electronic devices and appliances it sells.

The company consumed nearly 590,000 tons of plastic in 2017, according to its latest sustainability report. Recycled plastics accounted for just over 6% of Samsung's total plastic consumption.

Some top brands are experimenting with a different approach to the plastic packaging problem.

Consumer giants including Procter & Gamble and Nestlé are backing a project known as Loop, which aims to reuse containers for popular products like Tide detergent and Häagen-Dazs ice cream as an alternative to recycling.

The project, which will be rolled out in an experimental phase to several thousand consumers in New York and Paris this May, was announced last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

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