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Samsung’s big launch this week is its new flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone, but the company is still trying to escape the aftermath of the recalled Note 7.
Two days before the expected debut of the S8 in New York on Wednesday, Samsung has announced that the Note 7 could go back on sale as a refurbished device in certain regions, if regulators give it the all-clear.
The move follows criticism from environmental activists about how it plans to dispose of the 4.3m devices it had to recall last year after a battery fault caused some to self-combust. Greenpeace protesters broke into Samsung’s press event at Mobile World Congress last month, calling on the company to reuse or recycle the $900 phones and their components.
Setting out three steps towards more environmentally responsible handling of the Note 7, Samsung said on Monday that the recalled devices will be “considered to be used as refurbished phones or rental phones”, pending approval from regulators and mobile carriers.
It also promised that “salvageable components shall be detached for reuse”, including copper, nickel, gold and silver.
“As part of our ongoing commitment to recycling, Samsung also plans to join the EU’s R&D and test efforts to develop new eco-friendly processing methods,” it added.
In a statement, Greenpeace tentatively hailed the move as a victory for its “#savethegalaxy” campaign.
“Samsung’s announcement is the first step to show its effort to set a new path for recycling smartphones starting with Note 7s,” said Greenpeace campaigner Jude Lee. “Let’s see where this goes, but for now, it’s good news!”