Samsung feels environmental teeth

Samsung has been bitten on the rump by environmental watchdogs after it was caught using tin from Indonesia’s Bangka Island in its products.

According to Friends of the Earth, mining on the island is unregulated and dangerous to the communities living there. There are also allegations of child labour in the mining sector on Bangka Island.

Tin mined from the island of 625,000 inhabitants is used by many electronics manufacturers in the solder used to create circuit boards. But the mining destroys tropical forests, kills coral and “wrecks lives”, Friends of the Earth says.

Samsung admitted to using tin mined from Bangka Island and has promised to work with its suppliers to find a better plan.

In an email sent to the charity, Samsung said it is “undertaking a thorough investigation of our supply chain in the region to better understand what is happening, and what part it plays”.

Samsung did not have a direct relationship with tin suppliers from Bangka Island. It knows that some of the tin used for manufacturing originates from this area, the company said.

Craig Bennett, FoE’s director of policy and campaigns, praised Samsung for taking an industry lead by tracking its supply chains all the way to Indonesia’s tin mines and committing to taking responsibility for helping tackle the devastating impact that mining tin for electronics has on people and the environment.

Another smartphone maker, Apple must now follow suit and come clean about its whole supply chains, right back to where and how construction materials are sourced, Bennett said.