Emily Gonyou Reports
Samsung Announces Green Laundry Project With Patagonia
Samsung Electronics has been at the forefront of green initiatives in the tech industry for many years. Most recently, on January 4th, 2022, Samsung announced a new project in collaboration with the outdoor clothing company Patagonia. In an attempt to minimize the release of microplastics into our oceans, Samsung is developing a new washing machine which the company says will reduce the amount of microplastic released in the wastewater (effluent). Samsung also self-promoted the Ecobubble and AI Wash features that are already available on current products.1
Microplastics are released in a number of ways, which Samsung describes in the post on their website. Microplastics primarily pose a threat to marine ecosystems, and one of the ways that microplastics enter the world’s water system is from the erosion of plastic products which release small particles as they degrade, and these particles are washed into waterways. Another way that they enter the water is from the wastewater created from washing nylon, fleece, and spandex garments that are made with high amounts of plastic fibers.2 These plastics can have major effects on marine life and on human life. Microplastics can be hazardous to animals when ingested, and the effects of the toxic chemicals in plastics and detergents are amplified as they move up the food chain. This can have detrimental effects on human health, although the severity of these effects is still being researched.2
Samsung describes the impact of microplastics on marine life as “heartbreaking,” and it’s true. A group of scientists studying mussels in England found that many mussels had deformities and mutations in their DNA, which the scientists attribute to toxic minerals and chemicals leeching out of microfibers.3 The broad impact that this can have, not only to the water but also to soil ecosystems, is dangerous for the planet and dangerous for humans.2 Overall, it seems like any endeavor to help keep these harmful waste products out of the water is a good thing.
Despite Samsung’s claims, though, they still need to be accountable to designing this product and making sure it shows significant results. Samsung has made a lot of progress in their sustainable practices. For instance, Samsung facilities are powered by 100% renewable energy, and they have one of the biggest e-waste recycling programs in the world. The company does struggle with the use of hazardous chemicals, though, and they have been found to have manipulative software that forces people to buy new products before they should need them due to poor performance.4 Samsung needs to make sure that the impact of adding yet another product to the market is going to be negated by all the good that this new product will do. Hopefully, the partnership with Patagonia will not only yield a new machine that can wash laundry with less plastic fiber release, but also a reassessment of the use of plastics in Patagonia’s garments. The project is in the early stages, so we wait for more details in the future.
1. Samsung collaborates with Patagonia to keep microplastics out of our Oceans. Samsung Global Newsroom. (2022, January 5).
2. Shemitz, L., & Anastas, P. (2020, December 1). Yale experts explain microplastics. Yale Sustainability. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://sustainability.yale.edu/explainers/yale-experts-explain-microplastics#:~:text=Once%20released%20or%20broken%20away,%2C%20sea%20turtles%2C%20and%20birds
3. Stevens, A. P. (2020, December 21). Polluting microplastics harm both animals and ecosystems. Science News for Students. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/polluting-microplastics-harm-both-animals-and-ecosystems
4. Nash, T. (2021, August 30). Which smartphone is more ethical, Apple or Samsung? Corporate Knights. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://www.corporateknights.com/responsible-investing/sustainable-stock-showdown-apple-vs-samsung/