When Samsung says it's putting an end to the Galaxy Note 7 for good, it's not making any exceptions; the company has confirmed to Motherboard that there are no plans to repair or refurbish a single recalled device. Every Note 7 that Samsung receives back will be scrapped. “We have a process in place to safely dispose of the phones,” a spokesperson said.
Earlier today, Samsung adjusted its third quarter profit estimates to account for over $2 billion in losses — a direct result of the Note 7 recall saga. But as Motherboard's story explains, the environment will almost certainly pay a more significant cost. Samsung manufactured over 2 million Note 7s, and inefficient smartphone recycling practices make the difficult-to-mine rare earth elements and other components irrecoverable. “These are all very expensive in terms of the environmental impact, but also in the lives they impact to mine them," iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens told Motherboard.
Samsung hasn't expanded on exactly what its disposal process for the Note 7 entails, but environment-minded organizations like Greenpeace might urge the company to be transparent about the way it disposes of so many smartphones over the coming weeks and months. The company issues a sustainability report, but hasn't yet factored the Note 7 recall into those figures. Note 7 customers are receiving fireproof return boxes for safe transport of recalled (and potentially hazardous) units back to the company; the boxes can only be shipped via ground courier services and are forbidden from being transported by aircraft.