On June 12, Samsung Electronics released the 2020 edition of its Sustainability Report. The latest version of the report, which has been published annually since 2008, offers a comprehensive look at the outcomes of corporate sustainability management1 activities that took place throughout 2019.
With the release of this year’s report, Samsung Electronics endeavors to offer a measure of hope and assistance amidst the ongoing global health crisis. The company aims to do this by sharing insights it has gained over the past 50 years protecting the safety and wellbeing of employees and partners, and solving challenges for customers and local communities. These efforts, which are covered in detail in the report, include 1) establishing a dedicated team in the early stage of a crisis, and creating a working environment that puts safety first in accordance with the guidelines of various countries’ health authorities, and 2) maintaining a safe supply chain and providing local communities with technical support, technology, know-how and infrastructure.
The report also discusses the outcomes of sustainable management activities across various business units. For example, the report outlines how Samsung’s most recent sustainable initiatives span not just products but also packaging, upcycling, and the processing of materials. In this way, the report makes each business unit’s commitment to and investment in sustainable resource management abundantly clear.
These efforts have led to a number of milestone achievements in 2019 that are outlined in detail in this year’s report.
Last year, Samsung’s renewable energy usage reached 92 percent in the U.S., China and Europe. As the report notes, as remarkable as that figure is, it could soon be eclipsed, as Samsung is on track to reach 100 percent by the end of the year.
Samsung’s total renewable energy usage increased by 14 times compared to 2017, from 229 GWh to 3,220 GWh. And in recognition of their success expanding the use of renewable energy, the United States Environmental Protection Agency presented Samsung Electronics America, Inc., Samsung Austin Semiconductor, LLC, and Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. with the 2019 Green Power Leadership Award for Excellence.
The company also took significant steps toward transitioning to a circular economy, which prioritizes utilizing sustainable materials and minimizes waste. In particular, disposable materials such as plastic and vinyl are gradually being replaced in packaging with sustainable resources like paper. By the end of this year, Samsung plans to replace all paper used in product packaging for its Consumer Electronics and IT & Mobile Communications divisions with sustainably sourced paper.
In addition, the company made significant progress on strengthening education with regard to labor and human rights. Together with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Samsung organized educational sessions for human resource personnel that discussed the ethical recruitment of migrant workers to help protect their human rights. In 2020, the company will launch a newly developed labor and human rights training program in collaboration with Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), a sustainability consulting firm.
Under the principle of demonstrating transparent and responsible business practices, for the first time, Samsung appointed an Independent Director as Chairman of its Board of Directors. This individual will serve as an intermediary between the Board’s Executive Directors and Independent Directors who supervises the company’s management activities more objectively.
The report elaborates on activities related to six key themes – Commitment to the Environment in Our Operations, Product Stewardship, Enabling People, Technology for Good, Investing in Our Employees, and Sustainable Supply Chain. The company has also disclosed the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) index for the first time, and strengthened measures for disclosing information based on the guidelines of the Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure (TCFD), which were first revealed last year.
Interested readers can also explore how Samsung has implemented sustainability management activities centered on ESG (the environment, society and governance) to contribute to the recent trend of companies fulfilling their social responsibilities.
Samsung Electronics’ 2020 Sustainability Report can be downloaded here.
1Corporate sustainability management refers to business activities in which a company pursues sustainability in addition to profit by fulfilling its social, economic and environmental responsibilities. As calls for corporations to take on greater social responsibility began to grow across the globe in the 2000s, corporate sustainability management emerged as a paradigm that was essential for corporate survival.