By Joyce Lee
SEOUL (Reuters) – The world’s largest chip and mobile phone maker said on Thursday that Samsung Electronics will invest more than seven trillion won ($5.02 billion) by 2030 as part of sweeping environmental initiatives aimed at making the company carbon neutral by 2050.
Kim Soo-jin, Samsung, said the tech giant will spend money on research and development of technology aimed at filtering greenhouse gases and capturing carbon dioxide produced during chip production, and strives to make its commercial devices carbon-neutral early, by 2030. (KS:) Head of the ESG Strategy Group. It also plans to promote the recycling of resources such as lithium and plastic.
“These activities will eventually meet the demand of our customers…so that we increase interest in our products,” Kim said. “There are costs, but we will try to create a business opportunity.”
Samsung said it has joined a group of global companies committed to 100% renewable energy called RE100, following in the footsteps of global peers such as Apple (NASDAQ :), TSMC and Intel (NASDAQ :).
South Korea also aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, but this presents a challenge for a country with a large heavy industry including shipbuilding and steel, analysts say.
The country relies on coal and gas for more than 60% of its electricity generation, while renewable energy uses only 6% of its electricity production, according to data from the Ministry of Industry.
For Samsung chip makers and other South Korean manufacturers, stable and affordable power is key to competitiveness, but progress in renewable energy has been too slow to meet those standards yet, according to analysts.
“We are a direct manufacturer…so there are multi-layered challenges,” Kim said.
With their carbon neutral goals, Samsung customers and investors have long demanded clearer environmental goals from Samsung.
“While the number of carbon emissions continues to rise, Samsung Electronics has delayed making a clear commitment (on) how to effectively reduce carbon emissions. This has been a growing concern for long-term investors,” said Yoo Kyung Park, Head of Responsibility. Investment and governance for the Asia Pacific region of APG Asset Management, a shareholder of Samsung.
The company said the chip and component business accounted for 15.6 million, or 90%, of the 17.4 million tons of greenhouse gases that Samsung Electronics would emit in 2021, while the hardware business, including mobile phone, accounted for 10%.
Moreover, Samsung’s chip and component industry used 144 million tons of water in 2021, 88% of the 164 million tons the company used. Samsung aims to keep water drawn from sources at the 2021 level while chip production expands.
In addition to net zero emissions and water targets, Samsung plans to increase recycling of resources such as lithium and cobalt used in Samsung devices.
It currently collects e-waste in about 50 countries, adding that it aims to do so in about 180 countries by 2030.
Kim said Samsung is also seeking to raise the proportion of reused plastic in its devices to 50% of total plastic by 2030 and 100% by 2050, and boost production of energy-efficient chips and devices.
“Ultimately, we are a technology company … so we will contribute positively to climate change through technology development,” Kim said.
“Because we’re a big company and our products are used so widely, we’re going to make an impact through scale.”
(1 dollar = 1395.4600 won)