[Interview] Galaxy S20 Designers Discuss Making the Smartphone Experience More Sustainable

According to a 2018 report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) entitled “Single-Use Plastics: A Roadmap for Sustainability,” unless the world improves its consumption patterns and waste management practices, by 2050, there will be roughly 12 million metric tons of plastic litter polluting landfills and the environment.
It’s hard to overstate the urgency of this issue. Thankfully, people around the world, especially the younger generation, are realizing the importance of environmentally conscious consumption, and are adopting products and solutions that put the planet first. Samsung Electronics is deeply committed to this cause, and has taken steps to make its products as green as can be.
Read on to learn how, by reducing the use of plastics and vinyl in packaging, and by crafting phone cases from recycled materials, Samsung’s designers are promoting a much more sustainable smartphone experience.

Design Team members Mogwon Son (left) and Yoonyoung Kim, from Samsung Electronics’ Mobile Communications Business

A Decade of Going Green

The evolution of Galaxy devices’ packaging can be summed up with what could be called the three R’s: reducing paper use by streamlining packaging’s dimensions, replacing plastic with paper, and removing unnecessary components by simplifying packaging’s structure. Adhering to these green values enabled Samsung to make the Galaxy S10+’s packaging 30g lighter than that of its predecessor.

The Galaxy S series’ environmentally conscious packaging is the culmination of 10 years of hard work. Two thousand twelve’s Galaxy S3 was the first device in the series to feature recycled material in its packaging. The next year, Samsung officially introduced its first environmentally conscious mobile packaging, created using discarded paper, with the Galaxy S4. The Galaxy S5 and more recent entries in the series have added even more environmentally conscious elements to the mix, including biodegradable vinyl 1 and petroleum-free soy ink.
Design Team member Mogwon Son discussed how Samsung equipped last year’s Galaxy S10 with eco-friendly packaging consisting of FSC-certified paper boxes, as well as plastic- and vinyl-free interior components. “ We abandoned the holder tray and the box-covering sleeve, but kept the bottom box, which includes an all-in-one pulp mold,” said Son. 2  “This pulp mold, which utilizes pulp slurry made from bamboo fibers and sugarcane bagasse, is better for the environment, and helps minimize waste.”

The Galaxy S9, S10 and S20’s earphones (left) and travel adapters (right), displayed in order of release. As you can see, plastic films are no longer used to protect these products in packaging.

To further minimize waste, the plastic films that were used to wrap accessories like chargers and earphones have...