Data-Driven, Big-Picture Impact
We at Samsung strive to deliver products and services that excite our customers, and do so in a responsible and ethical manner. How can important externalities, like our environmental and social impacts, that are not traditionally considered on the balance sheet be brought into all of our decision making processes?
One way we make sure to hit that mark is through the work of Mark Newton, Head of Corporate Sustainability at Samsung Electronics America. Mark is constantly considering our data-driven environmental and social impact, whether it’s meeting with policy influencers and issue advocates, discussing product features with our engineers, sales teams and customers, or inspiring kids who are competing in our annual Climate Superstars program to meet the challenges we will face in the future.
In addition to his work at Samsung, Mark is also a father and grandfather, a competitive Ultimate player and Disc golfer, and enjoys exploring the pristine beauty of the Texas hill country.
Here’s Mark’s “top 3” list for what you need to know about how we approach our environmental and social responsibility at Samsung:
1. Our team at Samsung relies on logic and data to achieve meaningful, measurable impact.
Where my team excels is with a very objective, measured way of problem solving. We at Samsung are passionate about what we do but use logic and data in order to come to our conclusions.
Now, having said that, we are also citizens of this planet and want this to be a bountiful place to live for generations to come. We want to contribute to the health of our planet and recognize that we can make better business decisions by considering externalities like our social and environmental impacts – and achieve bigger positive outcomes by incorporating data and logic in our decision making. Our company will only be successful in the long run by adopting a sustainable mindset that balances the resources we take and the impact we make with the value to society that we deliver. Therefore, our team’s philosophy is to enable Samsung to be an impact-driven, sustainable business.
For example, in the United States the US EPA has established ENERGY STAR as a certification standard to recognize products with exceptional energy efficiency. To date, 100% of our tablets, laptops, front load washers and dishwashers, 81% of refrigerators, 60% of top-load washers and 49% of our dryers are ENERGY STAR certified. These are some of the reasons that the US EPA awarded Samsung this year with their prestigious Corporate Commitment Award for energy efficiency leadership in both our products and our operations. Going forward, one of our biggest opportunities for positive impact is to continue to design our products to the highest standards with respect to energy efficiency.
To continue to speak to the data — on the recycling side, we operate the largest manufacturer recycling program in the United States. We recycle upwards of 100 million pounds of e-waste every year. That adds up to over a billion pounds of material responsibly recycled over the last 10 years1.
We have achieved these numbers by holding ourselves to the highest level of accountability. We use the e-Stewards standard, which restricts our recyclers from exporting any of that waste to developing countries for processing, even though it may be cheaper for them to do that.
We also have a very aggressive goal to incorporate 500,000 tons of recycled plastics into our products by 20302. And we are starting to recognize the immense opportunity to incorporate recycled metals into our products.
This to me is the most meaningful kind of environmentalism — lasting, data-driven, big-picture impact.
2. Samsung’s big picture environment and sustainability commitments are realized in three different areas: our products, operations, and by empowering action.
For our products, we work closely with our research and development teams to help them understand what customers here in the U.S. care about. We also speak directly with our sales and service support teams and share with them all the ways that our products are designed to be more efficient so that they can do what they do best and deliver that message to customers.
The sustainability value proposition is a given for us here at Samsung. We don’t have to make this up or spin a story. Simply put, a product design that does not consider its environmental or social impacts simply is not a well-designed product. Our actions speak for us and our products delight customers because they are innovative and well designed.
Operationally, waste is cost, simple as that, and waste has environmental impacts that we can’t afford.
We have been quietly working in the background for years to make sure that we factor in efficiency and avoid waste in our products. And we bring the same efficiency mindset that we build into our products towards running our operations.
For example, in 2018 we made a commitment to using 100% renewable power for all our operations, including manufacturing, in the United States, Europe and China – and we achieved this last year through significant investments in wind, solar, and other renewable sources. We will continue to optimize our clean power purchases by shifting to investments that create additional renewable capacity for the grid, sourcing renewable energy directly and also producing more of it on our own. Going forward we will expand our commitment for 100% renewable power to all Latin America and West Asia operations by 2025.
And then lastly on the empowerment side, at Samsung we have a big commitment to supporting and promoting sustainability education through programs like Solve for Tomorrow, a competition that we run yearly to help teens across the country innovate and solve problems our communities face through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). We also invest in climate literacy programs like Climate Superstars, a month-long online environmental challenge in partnership with ENERGY STAR and the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), that gets middle-school age kids excited about the environment and how they can take an active role in caring for its future.
These initiatives are very intentional for us. We want to do our part to help our next generation of decision makers to be literate on these issues. We also want to show these young people how to solve tough challenges through innovative thinking using logic and data — the same thinking that we employ every day in our work at Samsung.
We want to do our part to help our next generation of decision makers to be literate on these issues. We also want to show these people how to solve tough challenges through innovative thinking using logic and data -- the same thinking that we employ every day in our work at Samsung.
3. We focus on excelling in energy efficiency because we are an electronics company and this is how we can help our customers be more productive, reduce their costs and help them to achieve their climate goals.
Samsung is a company that makes electronics that help people be more productive and creative, stay connected to one another and have more fun in their lives. Given that electronics run on energy, it only makes sense that we would focus first on excelling in energy efficiency. The US Department of Energy estimates that household energy accounts for 21% of total US energy consumption3.
Over the last 10 years, through the improved efficiency of our products, we have helped our customers avoid over 300 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions related to the electricity needed to power them. According to the US EPA, avoiding 300 million tons of CO2 emissions is like taking 65 million cars off the road for a year. 65 million. There are around 290 million cars on the road in the US today5. Doing the math, that’s almost a quarter of all cars off the road for a whole year, thanks to Samsung’s energy efficiency efforts over the last 10 years4.
Another thing to put into perspective is that Samsung is a very vertically integrated company, meaning we own and operate our own manufacturing, and in some cases, as with semiconductors, our component manufacturing operations as well. Other electronics companies typically outsource their manufacturing and component supply operations so their “footprint” (the operations they directly control, and associated greenhouse gas emissions) may appear to be smaller. However, even though we account for more emissions than others in our operations, if you compare the GHG savings from product efficiency improvements that we’ve delivered to our customers over the last 10 years, the savings are more than twice as much as the GHG generated to produce those products.
That’s a big difference, and it inspires us to keep going!