The tech giant is going to refurbish and sell its Note 7 phones that were previously recalled for safety reasons. Samsung explains that it’s the best way to manage its stockpile in an environmentally friendly manner. The company is going to sell them as “refurbished phones or rental phones”, but first it will consult regulators in various markets.

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Last year, the leading phone maker recalled about 4m smartphones over concerns that batteries could overheat and burst into flames. Galaxy Note 7 was banned everywhere from use on planes and even from being transported in checked luggage. Samsung carried out an investigation and blamed faulty batteries in the end. Now the recalled phones pose an environmental hazard if handled as waste. The company decided to recycle and process the phones in an environmentally friendly manner, first detaching any salvageable components for reuse and extracting metals by specialist recycling companies. The final decision will depend on consultations with regulatory authorities and carriers and due consideration of local demand. Samsung promised to determine the markets and release dates later.

This decision was supported by Greenpeace, which remembers months of campaigning and protests addressing the environmental impact of the recall – there were lots of petitions signed around the world, emails sent to Samsung’s CEO and demonstrations held in various cities. Now Greenpeace calls this decision “major win” for everyone who took action, and a step towards shifting the way electronics is produced and disposed of.

On the other hand, some industry experts believe that the decision can be “a huge misstep” for Samsung, which is launching its latest flagship handset. The watchers point out that on the one hand, the desire to minimize the environmental impact is admirable, and the phone maker would definitely benefit financially from refurbishing the devices, but on the other hand, it would have been better off simply doing what it originally promised and abandoning the line entirely and merely recouping parts.

In the meantime, Greenpeace promised to press the company for a detailed timeline on its efforts in order to urge other manufacturers to boost recycling and improve the handling of hazardous smartphone waste.

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