Samsung investigating circular business models

EXCLUSIVE: The world's largest electronics manufacturer is considering the adoption of innovative business models such as servitisation and leasing schemes in a bid to cut e-waste and create more resilient revenue streams.

Speaking exclusively to edie at Sustainability Live this week, the head of sustainability at Samsung Europe, Bill Skeates, said the company was working with London estate agents to examine the feasibility of leasing electronic equipment in fully-furnished rental properties.

“The business model they are selling is that you have somewhere with all the equipment for you to cool your food, wash your dishes and watch television. They’re not selling these products, and we could potentially tap into that market with refurbished products and even new products which simply have damaged boxes.

“We are looking at leasing this equipment to the estate agents and maintaining it on an ongoing basis. This is an area that is very much of interest.”

The rise of the ‘sharing economy’, service-orientated business models and leasing schemes are beginning to make waves in the sustainability space across the globe. In the UK, WRAP’s chief executive Liz Goodwin recently said that servitisation and the circular economy ‘go hand-in-hand’.

Goodwin cited the example of another consumer electrics company, LG, which now offers a ‘circular’ repair scheme; providing a same-day service to fix any of their goods, large or small. 


Samsung’s Skeates said the Korean giant is attempting to cut down its own e-waste impact by looking at trade-in business models, in collaboration with WRAP.

Somewhere between 25 and 125 million phones languish unused in UK homes. For every phone currently in use, four are left unrecycled in draws and cupboards.

“Trade-in is a big area we are looking at, because we already have that infrastructure across Europe for servicing,” added Skeates. “We can collect old models, ship them back to Korea and re-use the parts.”

“This year is also the first year we are working with WRAP to look at the potential of taking back of other people’s products and our own and trading them for upgrades.

“A phone contract is already a leasing agreement, but what happens at the end of that contract is up to the operator, so we are also speaking to operators about taking back phones at the end of contracts.”

A recent Green Alliance report urged electronics manufacturers to embrace more circular business models, outlining six ways they could reduce their environmental impact.

Video: the story of electronics

Brad Allen

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