- Samsung's discontinuation and recall of 2.5 million potentially flammable Galaxy Note 7 phones could result in the waste of almost 500 pounds of raw material per phone because they won't have any refurbishment potential for future use, as reported by Motherboard.
- Many of the roughly 50 materials used — such as indium, neodymium and cobalt — are costly to mine and challenging to extract on the back end. Because of its size and advanced technology, the device used more rare earth material than average phones.
- Samsung has confirmed that the battery is the issue so theoretically the company could have solved the problem with a battery replacement program. The problem is this was the first Galaxy Note version in which the battery was glued to the case, preventing easy replacement by users.
This recall could be good for the current right to repair movement. Getting a large quantity of the same device back at once is rare and will provide opportunities to try more efficient dismantling techniques.
The battery replacement factor could also lead some companies to rethink strategies of making devices very hard to open or repair efficiently. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries released a right to reuse policy earlier this year calling on manufacturers to provide more access to the schematics, parts and tools needed for refurbishing devices. A group called The Repair Association has been advocating for state legislation to make this happen.
The wasteful consequences of modern electronic devices have been getting more scrutiny lately as consumers are encouraged to change out models more frequently and companies look for new ways to tout their sustainability. Apple's 29-armed phone-recycling robot has been criticized as a way to discourage refurbishment and the company's new iPhone 7 has also caught some flack for its potential to create countless wasted earphones.