Samsung Electronics is talking big about going "green," and it has promised to spend 5.4 trillion won ($4.3 billion) to make it happen.
The gadget giant laid down some lofty goals Monday in announcing its campaign to reduce its own carbon footprint while selling more environmentally friendly products.
The company aims to cut emissions from its factories by 50 percent below the 2008 levels by 2013. Samsung, which makes cell phones, TVs and a whole slew of other consumer electronics, said it would achieve the reduction by using new manufacturing techniques for making semiconductors and LCD displays.
Samsung also plans to develop more energy-efficient products in order to reduce emissions from operating the electronic equipment by 84 million tons through 2013. It wants to cut the standby power use to 0.5 watt from 1 watt.
As for marketing, the company plans to boost its use of eco-product labeling, which it has developed internally, and use more recyclable and more wholesome materials.
The company's announcement came less than a week after Walmart announced a plan to label its merchandise to show the environmental impact of various products. It will be a lengthy and costly undertaking for the world's largest retailer, which plans to recruit scientists and environmental groups to help it set up an index to reflect, for example, the amount of energy used to make a product and the materials used. The index would be used to create the labels.
Walmart and Samsung have the resources to go green. But how would the need to "go green" affect the many small and mid-size retailers and manufacturers?
Walmart's plan would also require its retailers to supply lots of environmental impact data. That would spell a boon for developers of carbon management software, for sure. But it also would mean some potentially hefty upfront costs for those manufacturers to use different materials and change its production processes in order to get the desired labeling from Walmart.
Samsung and Walmart could also find their projects taking much, much longer than expected. Google thought it could reduce its carbon footprint fairly quickly when it first announced a plan to do in 2007, but finding the right carbon offset credits turned out to be a lengthy process (see Google: Carbon Credit Shopping Ain't Easy).
Walmart's effort will certainly take a while. The company doesn't expect the labeling system to be in place for at least another five years. It also hopes other retailers will use its system.
And, already, some people are asking this question: What happens when a rush to use "green materials" cause shortage?
"You could say you want everyone to source wood from certain kinds of sources, but there may not be enough supply of certain high quality environmental products," Andrew Winston, co-author of the book Green to Gold, told Reuters.