Samsung’s decision to discontinue the Galaxy Note 7 and recover remaining units isn’t just a blow to smartphone fans… it’s not so hot for the environment, either. Experts speaking to Motherboard point out thatphone recycling is still a very young field, and that many of the rare earth elements (such as cobalt and indium) won’t be recycled at all. There’s going to be a significant amount of e-waste when all is said and done, in other words. And while the waste from about 2.5 million barely-used Note 7s isn’t going to trigger an ecological disaster, it’s considerably worse than refurbishing those phones.
And yes, as you might have gathered, Samsung’s decision to seal in the battery isn’t helping. It couldn’t just have users toss out their old batteries and wait for replacements, provided batteries are the cause — it had to ask everyone to return the phones themselves. While these kinds of calamities aren’t widespread among phones with sealed-in batteries, the Note 7 incident is a reminder that removable power packs can be friendlier to the environment, not just convenient.