Ever wonder what will happen to the ill-fated Samsung Galaxy Note 7 after owners turn it in for something new? It might just turn to gold.
Samsung (SSNLF) is in the throes of a worldwide recall on the Galaxy Note 7. The company is urging all owners of the first-run device or replacement to bring it to a carrier store and turn it in. Customers who do so will then receive a $25 credit if they ask for a refund or buy a smartphone from another company. Galaxy Note 7 owners who stick with Samsung and buy another of its devices will get a $100 credit. Meanwhile, the phone will be shipped off to parts unknown.
Ultimately, Samsung is hoping to get those smartphones back. In fact, Wired is reporting that Samsung has a facility in Texas, which should be able to accommodate receipt of many of the nearly two million Galaxy Note 7 units still believed to be in the wild in the United States. Once Samsung has the Galaxy Note 7 devices, it will transfer them to recycling companies that collect electronics from consumers, strip down the devices, and mine them for precious materials, Wired is reporting after speaking with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
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The recycling facilities could ultimately benefit greatly from the return. Using specialized procedures and tools, not-for-profit organizations like Call2Recycle, among countless others (which are both for-profit and not-for-profit), break down the devices to extract metals used to build a smartphone. Best of all, they’re typically high-value metals, including gold and silver.
According to data obtained from the EPA by Wired, a million recycled smartphones will typically yield 75 pounds of gold, 772 pounds of silver, and more than 35,000 pounds of copper. Samsung needs to recycle about two million of these devices in the U.S., so it’s possible American recycling firms could net twice that sum after breaking down the smartphone. That could translate into millions of dollars going into recycling organization coffers in the U.S., alone. And it’s perhaps important to note that none of it will be going back to Samsung.
However, it’s no guarantee that the Galaxy Note 7 will net recycling companies boatloads of cash in precious materials. In fact, recycling companies that spoke to Wired say that Samsung’s decision to glue down the battery in the Galaxy Note 7, which has been heating up and catching fire, could make the recycling process a bit dangerous. It’s also unclear whether the defective device will be properly packaged as “damaged, defective, recalled” and even make its way into recycling programs.
For more about Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7, watch:
Oh, and there’s also the issue of some Galaxy Note 7 owners saying they won’t return their devices, despite the risks.
Samsung did not respond to a request for comment.