Samsung Sustainability Report: Good Progress Made, a Bit More Needed

  • This year’s report includes an entire sub-chapter on the circular economy. Previous reports also mentioned circularity, but at a much higher level and in a slightly confusing way.
  • Samsung has made some good strides this year in the three key areas of a circular economy – production, use and end of life.
  • However, Samsung still has a lot of work to do to be seen as a true sustainability pioneer.

On June 20, Samsung released the 2023 edition of its Sustainability Report, focusing on its strategy and performance in the areas of People, Planet and Principle. The report highlights several achievements, including:

  • A 10-million tonne CO2e reduction in Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.
  • A 31% transition to renewable energy.
  • The collection of 600,502 tonnes of e-waste, an increase of 9% from 2021.

All very good. But the most interesting part of the report from a smartphone perspective is the inclusion of an entire sub-chapter on the circular economy. Previous reports also mentioned circularity, but at a much higher level and in a slightly confusing way. For example, the 2022 report had a chapter called “Maximizing Resource Circularity” which, while mentioning smartphones, also covered water management and things like chatbots, sign language services and service skills training (not clear how these fit in this section).

The 2023 report is much more focused and only contains information directly relevant to device circularity. For example, it has sub-sections on the use of recycled/recyclable materials, extending product lifecycles, repairability and e-waste collection/recycling. This is much clearer and in line with Counterpoint Research’s vision of what is needed for the smartphone industry to become truly circular (see chart).

Stages of the Circular Economy

Samsung sustainability - stages of the circular economy
Source: Smartphones and a Circular Economy; creating a sustainable future, Counterpoint Research, December 2022

Samsung has made some good strides this year in the three key areas of a circular economy – production, use and end of life. For example:

  • Samsung reported a three-fold increase in the use of recycled resin in its devices’ plastic parts in 2022 when compared to 2021.
  • The Galaxy S23 series’ volume keys, side key and SIM tray are made with 28% pre-consumer aluminium scrap, and its front screen and back cover contain 22% pre-consumer recycled glass.
  • The packaging box for the Galaxy S23 series is 100% recycled paper, while the plastic films which used to be attached to the front and back of the product have been replaced with 100% recycled paper.
  • Reclaimed and recycled fishing nets are used in six components in the Galaxy S23 series, up from three in the S22 series.
  • The Galaxy S23 series obtained the highest rating in France’s Repairability Index.
  • Samsung grew its repairability network in the US.
  • All Galaxy S23 series models come with four generations of OS upgrades and five years of security updates.
  • 600,000 tonnes of e-waste was collected in 2022, a 9% increase on 2021.
  • Samsung was the second largest OEM in the global refurbished smartphone market, accounting for 26% of sales in 2022.

Some of these initiatives are improvements over the competition. For example, Apple’s product packaging still contains 4% plastic (although this is down from 10% in 2018) and most Chinese OEMs like Xiaomi, OPPO, vivo and HONOR still do not use any recycled material in their smartphones at all.

However, Samsung still has a lot of work to do to be seen as a true sustainability pioneer. For a start, its claims around recycled materials and repairability are limited to its flagship Galaxy S series. Samsung makes no mention of any eco-improvements in its A series of smartphones, which account for over 60% of its sales.

Similarly, Samsung’s use of 28% pre-consumer aluminium scrap in various places and 22% pre-consumer recycled glass in the back case of the Galaxy S23 series is on the modest side. By comparison, the Google Pixel 7/7 Pro features an aluminium enclosure made from 100% recycled content, Nokia X30 5G’s body is made with 100% recycled aluminium and 65% recycled plastic, and the Fairphone 4 has a 100% recycled plastic back cover.

Of course, scale is a factor. Samsung shipped 260 million smartphones in 2022, compared to 12 million by HMD (under the Nokia brand), 8 million by Google and 115,000 by Fairphone. It is already difficult making a sustainable smartphone, but it is substantially harder to scale up such achievements when you are the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer. Having said that, a company such as Samsung should be aiming for leadership, not being second best.

Finally, there is Samsung’s famous use of reclaimed old fishing nets and other ocean-bound plastics in the production of its latest smartphones. The recycled materials are only used in a small number of components in each model. Not exactly an impressive achievement. Also, Samsung claims that by the end of 2022, its use of recycled ocean-bound material has prevented more than 50 tonnes of discarded fishing nets from entering the world’s oceans. This is less than 0.01% of the estimated 640,000 tonnes discarded each year. Yes, great initiatives, but are they enough?

Overall, Samsung has made good progress over the last year. Not as much as is needed to become a sustainability leader but, of course, any progress made towards making the smartphone industry less environmentally destructive should be applauded and encouraged. Samsung needs to be careful, though, that its big marketing campaigns, particularly those lauding its recovery of discarded fishing nets, don’t cross into greenwashing territory.

Related Posts

vivo’s Strategy Paying off as China Consumers Upgrade Phones

Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, Taipei, London, Boston, Toronto, New Delhi – December 10, 2021

The mid-to-high-end segment is increasingly becoming more important for Chinese OEMs as consumers continue to upgrade their smartphones. Higher-value phones also offer more profitability for OEMs, which are witnessing a decline in shipments due to the shrinking of China’s smartphone market.

Over the past year, vivo has made significant progress in China’s mid-to-high-end segment. Its market share in the $500-$599 price band (wholesale price) has risen from 10% in September 2020 to 20% in September 2021. This was driven by the strong performance of the vivo X70 Pro, launched in September. vivo continues to move up the value chain with relentless efforts in research and innovation in camera technology, including entering a strategic partnership with optical technology leader ZEISS.

vivo's Market Share in the $500-$599 Price Band

Counterpoint Research expects China’s smartphone market to see flattish growth in 2021. It is a challenging market for all OEMs, especially given the hardware situation. With a slow market size growth rate, leading OEMs tend to move into the game of revenue and average selling price (ASP).

Further, Chinese OEMs are no longer pleased to be crowned as the “king of affordable”, which means domination in the $157-$314 (CNY 999-CNY 1,999) retail price bands. They are hungry to grab more share in the $470 (CNY 3,000) and above segment. We can call the $470-$630 (CNY 3,000-CNY 4,000) retail price segment the entry premium segment and a strategic territory for all Chinese OEMs.

In Q3 2021, vivo, with all the efforts of strategic portfolio planning and continuous channel evolution, took the leading place in the $500-$599 segment, driven by the outstanding performance of X series.

vivo launched its S series in April 2021, aiming to free the X series from the $470 (CNY 3,000) and below segment. Before that, the X series had blurring boundaries. While it was supposed to be a higher segment series, it was still present in the $470 (CNY 3,000) and below segment. To the market, the X series was meant to increase vivo’s ASP but failed. The S series came at the right time because it was not only different from the Y series, which had already impressed the market with its entry-level products, but also let the X series focus on the premium segment. The restructuring strategy has proved to be a success.

As we may recall, the $500-$599 entry premium segment used to be dominated by Huawei. HONOR, which has been carved out of Huawei as a separate company, sees Apple as a role model, which its CEO George Zhao has admitted publicly a few times, and will definitely launch products in this segment. Xiaomi’s Q3 2021 earnings brief also states that the company is performing well in the premium segment. Therefore, the $500 and above segment will be the next battlefield for all Chinese OEMs.

With the ASP of the Chinese mass market expected to continuously increase in the coming two years, the mid-tier S series holds great strategic importance for vivo.

Please reach out to press (at) for press comments and enquiries.

You can also visit our Data Section (updated quarterly) to view the smartphone market share for WorldUSAChina and India.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts: 

Ivan Lam

Mengmeng Zhang

Follow Counterpoint Research

Related Posts

Telecom, E-commerce Central to China’s Renewed Focus on Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia holds great potential for growth in the technology and e-commerce sectors. It has a comparatively young and tech-savvy demographic which is experiencing a digital transformation jumpstarted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even 5G commercialization is being pushed in most of the region’s key countries.

Overall, the US, EU and Japan remain the key investors in Southeast Asia. But this might change with China’s renewed focus on the region. The country has been investing in Southeast Asia across sectors for more than a decade now, with infrastructure projects traditionally bagging more funds. However, China’s influence in the region has increased after the start of its trade tussle with the US. Critical sectors like electricity and telecommunications are now being backed by Chinese investors.

The region’s smartphone landscape went through some volatility after COVID-19. This is when Chinese smartphone OEMs started pulling share from Samsung. Their smartphone share in Southeast Asia has made up a majority for more than a year now. It has increased substantially over the last few quarters. In Q2 2021, main Chinese OEMs made up 75% of the total smartphone shipments.

Counterpoint Research Chinese OEM Share in Key Southeast Asia Markets

E-commerce initiatives by Chinese players

Chinese investors have been increasing their stake in the region’s e-commerce companies for some time now. Since 2017, e-commerce has been the avenue of interest for Chinese investment due to its growth potential and near-absence of any geopolitical challenge for China in the region., Alibaba and Tencent were among the first Chinese investors to pump capital into e-commerce in this region.

Counterpoint Research Major Chinese Investors in Key Ecommerce Companies

5G initiatives by Chinese players

Some countries in the region depend on Chinese technology and know-how. Indonesia has been dependent on Huawei’s 5G technology for more than a year now. The Philippines depends on Chinese telecom infrastructure know-how. In Thailand, Huawei has an active investment in 5G infrastructure. ZTE is another Chinese player with an active role in digital connectivity in the region. These three countries will look to reduce their overall dependence on Chinese tech in the coming months. Currently, however, their goals are focused on 5G development from an economic standpoint. Some countries like Malaysia and Vietnam have given Chinese 5G assistance the cold shoulder.

5G represents a leap in technological growth and overall data sharing. This is an important factor for Southeast Asian countries to consider while partnering with China. Also, such decisions have the potential to become national security issues.

Many major telecom operators in Southeast Asia are lagging in 5G as they still need to recuperate from heavy 4G investments. This is also an area where Chinese capital plays a big part. In contrast, major Chinese smartphone OEMs are ready with 5G devices.


Since some of the region’s countries are global manufacturing hubs (especially Vietnam and Indonesia), Chinese players will look to diversify their own production facilities. As production capacities shift out of China, these OEMs will aim at buying a stake in the region from a production and assembly point of view. The absence of geopolitical issues and growth potential of the region will serve as motivations for these players.

The Chinese influence is currently strong in the region but so are the investments from US behemoths like Microsoft and Google. Southeast Asia will continue to see an influx of funding in the coming years as this region is set to witness an improved economic climate, enhanced industrial system and increased maturity of consumers with respect to tech.

Related Posts

Smartphone ODMs Achieve 7.2% YoY Growth in H1 2021, Show Resilience to COVID-19, Component Shortages

Hong Kong, San Diego, Buenos Aires, London, New Delhi, Beijing, Taipei, Seoul – September 8, 2021

Smartphone shipments from ODM/IDH (Original Design Manufacturer/Independent Design House) companies grew 7.2% YoY in H1 2021, according to the latest report from Counterpoint Research’s ODM/IDH Tracker. This comes as the global smartphone market rebounded 19% YoY in H1 2021. Smartphones with outsourced designs (from ODM/IDH companies) declined to account for a 36% share of the H1 2021 global smartphone shipments, down from 40% in H1 2020.

Counterpoint Research Global Smartphone Design Operation Status H1 2021
Source: Counterpoint’s Global Smartphone ODM/IDH Tracker, H1 2021

Senior Research Analyst Ivan Lam said: “Although the COVID-19 pandemic continued to materially impact the global smartphone market, ODMs managed to achieve decent growth. The growth of the ODM market was primarily driven by increasing orders from key clients like Samsung, OPPO Group, Xiaomi and Lenovo/Motorola. H1 2021 outperformer Xiaomi’s orders to ODM/IDH companies increased by more than 40% YoY. Xiaomi is now the largest client in the global smartphone ODM market.”

On component shortages and cost increases, Lam said: “We found that the impact of these issues was much higher on ODMs than on the in-house production of OEMs. This is due to the business model and mechanism of ODMs, under which ODMs produce only after receiving orders. Although ODMs have the FOPDI (Forecast, Order, Production, Delivery, Inventory) workflow with OEMs, ODMs tend to reserve lower component inventory than market forecasts, due to volatile market dynamics and cash flow management. As such, several OEMs suffered unexpected sales declines, while the lack of bargaining power undermined their ability to increase prices.”

Commenting on the different growth paths of global smartphone shipments and ODM/IDH shipments, Senior Research Analyst Yang Wang said: “ODM/IDH companies tend to produce mid- to low-priced smartphones. However, in the past year, OEMs paid more attention and channeled more resources towards more premium products. These products were mainly produced in-house and by EMSs. As a result, while the absolute shipment numbers from ODMs/IDHs increased, in-house and EMS shipments increased even more.” Counterpoint figures show smartphones priced at less than $200 dropped to a share of 47%, down from 54% a year ago.

Counterpoint Research Share of Global Smartphone Sales by Price Band H1 2021
Source: Counterpoint’s Smartphone Market Pulse Service, H1 2021

Looking at the competitive landscape of the global smartphone ODM/IDH market, Huaqin, Longcheer and Wingtech continued to dominate the market. The ‘Big 3’ now account for 76% of the global ODM/IDH smartphone shipments, up from 69% a year ago.

The component shortage and cost increase issues have put further pressure on the ODM industry. The Tier II and lower ODMs have been struggling to secure consistent supply from upstream partners, and the lack of bargaining power means they struggle to keep supply costs down. On the other hand, leading OEMs have the power to influence upstream component vendors, both in supply and price.

Ranking and Growth of Global Smartphone ODM/IDH Vendors H1 2021
Source: Counterpoint’s Global Smartphone ODM/IDH Tracker, H1 2021

Commenting on the ODM dynamics, Lam said: “Huaqin continues to retain the number one spot among ODMs. Longcheer saw a significant increase thanks to Xiaomi’s outstanding performance. Tinno also performed well, due to increasing orders from Lenovo/Motorola, which saw success in LATAM. Going forward, we expect continued momentum of OEMs deepening partnerships with ODMs/IDHs and EMSs in H2 2021 and beyond.”

The latest “Global Smartphone ODM Report – H1 2021” is available here.

Counterpoint Research’s market-leading Market Pulse service for mobile handsets is available for subscribing clients.

Feel free to contact us at press(at) for questions regarding our in-depth research and insights, or for press enquiries.

You can also visit our Data Section (updated quarterly) to view the smartphone market share for WorldUSAChina and India.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts: 

Ivan Lam

Yang Wang

Counterpoint Research

Related Posts

Thailand Smartphone Market to Decline Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic: Present Scenario and Outlook

Thailand smartphone market sales declined 8% YoY in CY 2019 and we believe it will continue to decline in CY 2020 amidst Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Samsung is leading the Thailand smartphone market with a 31% market share in CY 2019 driven by its wide device portfolio that caters to the requirements and needs of all income groups. The refreshed Galaxy A series has further helped Samsung strengthen its portfolio and grow 6% YoY.

Apart from Samsung, Chinese OEMs have gained popularity in the market. They are aggressively expanding outside China and Thailand is an attractive market for them as the smartphone users there look for “value for money”. Good specs at competitive pricing give Chinese OEMs an edge over other OEMs and will likely help Chinese players grow further. For the same reason, we believe the runner up Oppo and Samsung to be in tough competition for the top spot.

Thailand smartphone market: CY 2018 vs. CY 2019

Reasons for the decline (in decreasing order of their importance) in Thailand smartphone market:

  1. Thailand’s smartphone market has reached saturation. DTAC’s subscriber count declined 2% YoY in 2019 and other major operators remained almost flat in terms of subscriber count.
  2. Thailand’s GDP growth slowed to 2.4% in 2019 compared to 4.1% in 2018.
  3. The Thai general elections of 2019 which gave no party an absolute majority added to the economic instability.
  4. The replacement cycle elongated because people tend to use their present smartphones for longer and are waiting for a 5G smartphone as their next buy. Also, as an immediate impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the replacement cycle is likely to stretch still further.
  5. The decline was further triggered by a drop in Huawei sales due to a lack of GMS services in their devices following the imposition of trade sanctions by the US. However, Samsung and Oppo partly monetized on this opportunity to grow.

COVID-19 Impact

The new coronavirus pandemic will have an impact on market performance in Thailand. In 2020, the pandemic will adversely impact Thailand’s tourism which will further impact the Thai economy. This will feed through to lower disposable incomes. The decline in disposable income will have an indirect negative effect on Thailand’s smartphone market, likely by further extending replacement cycles, causing people to buy cheaper products or opt for second hand or refurbished handsets.

Assuming the Thai authorities can continue to keep the spread of the virus under control locally,  the most likely scenario is for the Thailand smartphone market to be flat to slightly down in 2020.  Recent 5G auctions and sales of 5G phones in 2020 can help the market to recover more quickly later in 2020 and into 2021.

Quick scenario wise analysis:

  1. Optimistic: Pandemic bought under control in Q1- Thailand market to grow 1-2% YoY in 2020 driven by 5G and strong performance from Samsung, Oppo, and Vivo.
  2. Most Likely (Base Case):  Pandemic bought within control in Q2- Market to decline 1-1.5% in 2020 driven by 5G and strong performance from Samsung and moderate performance from Oppo and Vivo.
  3. Pessimistic: Pandemic continues into Q2,  possibly even into Q3- Market to decline 4-5% YoY driven by a weak performance from Chinese OEMs.

Certainly, this viral outbreak will have an impact on the production and shipment of vendors globally. Though China is starting to get back to normalcy, the vendors who have their component manufacturers and supply chain in the country will be impacted. We believe their shipments will take a loss for the first quarter of 2020. Hence, we believe Samsung who relies on India, Vietnam and South Korea for component manufacturing and assembly will be at an advantage for the first quarter. However, the market will rebound post the period of crisis with a little change in demand patterns and therefore the Chinese brands will bounce back strong giving a tough fight to the Korean giant.

Term of Use and Privacy Policy

Counterpoint Technology Market Research Limited


In order to access Counterpoint Technology Market Research Limited (Company or We hereafter) Web sites, you may be asked to complete a registration form. You are required to provide contact information which is used to enhance the user experience and determine whether you are a paid subscriber or not.
Personal Information When you register on we ask you for personal information. We use this information to provide you with the best advice and highest-quality service as well as with offers that we think are relevant to you. We may also contact you regarding a Web site problem or other customer service-related issues. We do not sell, share or rent personal information about you collected on Company Web sites.

How to unsubscribe and Termination

You may request to terminate your account or unsubscribe to any email subscriptions or mailing lists at any time. In accessing and using this Website, User agrees to comply with all applicable laws and agrees not to take any action that would compromise the security or viability of this Website. The Company may terminate User’s access to this Website at any time for any reason. The terms hereunder regarding Accuracy of Information and Third Party Rights shall survive termination.

Website Content and Copyright

This Website is the property of Counterpoint and is protected by international copyright law and conventions. We grant users the right to access and use the Website, so long as such use is for internal information purposes, and User does not alter, copy, disseminate, redistribute or republish any content or feature of this Website. User acknowledges that access to and use of this Website is subject to these TERMS OF USE and any expanded access or use must be approved in writing by the Company.
– Passwords are for user’s individual use
– Passwords may not be shared with others
– Users may not store documents in shared folders.
– Users may not redistribute documents to non-users unless otherwise stated in their contract terms.

Changes or Updates to the Website

The Company reserves the right to change, update or discontinue any aspect of this Website at any time without notice. Your continued use of the Website after any such change constitutes your agreement to these TERMS OF USE, as modified.
Accuracy of Information: While the information contained on this Website has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, We disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. User assumes sole responsibility for the use it makes of this Website to achieve his/her intended results.

Third Party Links: This Website may contain links to other third party websites, which are provided as additional resources for the convenience of Users. We do not endorse, sponsor or accept any responsibility for these third party websites, User agrees to direct any concerns relating to these third party websites to the relevant website administrator.

Cookies and Tracking

We may monitor how you use our Web sites. It is used solely for purposes of enabling us to provide you with a personalized Web site experience.
This data may also be used in the aggregate, to identify appropriate product offerings and subscription plans.
Cookies may be set in order to identify you and determine your access privileges. Cookies are simply identifiers. You have the ability to delete cookie files from your hard disk drive.