Samsung carbon emissions rise despite 100% renewable energy in China, Europe, the US

The Galaxy smartphone maker has failed to meet its emissions target for 2020, releasing more than double the target amount.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

Samsung Electronics released more greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 compared to the year prior, according to the company's annual sustainability report.

The report [PDF] said Samsung's greenhouse gas emissions rose by 5% year-on-year, releasing 3.2 tonnes of CO₂e (CO₂ equivalent) per 100 million won in revenue, due to the company expanding the operations of its semiconductor production line and product output.

With the emissions increase, Samsung fell short of its emissions target for 2020 of 1.55 tonnes of CO₂e per 100 million won, which is a 70% reduction from 5.17 tonnes of CO₂e per 100 million won in 2008.

While acknowledging the increase in emissions, Samsung also wanted to make known that its operations in China, Europe, and the US were now fully powered by renewable energy sources.

The tech giant added that it has signed agreements with renewable energy suppliers in Brazil and Mexico and expected to only use renewable energy in these countries by 2025.

Despite this shift, environmental campaign group Greenpeace said Samsung needed to do more, as the worksites in China, Europe, and the US comprised less than 20% of the company's total energy output.

"In 2020, renewable energy represented 17.6% in Samsung's overall energy mix," Greenpeace said.

Releasing its own report on the same day, Greenpeace said Samsung currently uses fossil fuels for 82% of its power needs.

To address this, Greenpeace recommended for Samsung to make energy consumption changes to its operations in South Korea and Vietnam as they constituted roughly 80% of the electronics maker's energy use.

"Given Samsung's scale of business and impact on the overall economies of Korea and Vietnam and its pledge to pursue renewable energy goals in other markets, it has the power to make great strides in Korea and Vietnam by pursuing easier access to renewable energy in the two countries," Greenpeace said.

Greenpeace added that while Samsung's scope 2 emissions have decreased between 2018-2019 due to increased uptake in renewable energy in some markets and also possibly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Samsung's scope 3 emissions -- mainly accounting for suppliers and logistics -- maintained an upward trend between 2017-2019.

Elsewhere in Samsung's sustainability report, the South Korean tech giant said it collected 510,000 tonnes of e-waste in 2020, which was 30,000 tonnes more than 2019.

During 2020, it also reduced its average water consumption by 4,953 tonnes per day and reused 70,181 thousand tonnes of water, which was a 1.2% increase compared to 2019. Samsung did not release how much water it currently uses per day in the report, however.

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