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Engineering Materials

DSM and Samsung Electronics work together to develop a smartphone made with recycled ocean-bound fishing nets

If you walk along India’s western coastline, you’ll have a breath-taking view of golden beaches, tall palms, and rocky cliffs. You’ll also see a lot of washed-up litter – such as water bottles, grocery bags, straws, and even fishing nets – sitting on those beaches. Today, plastic waste is one of the most pressing threats to our oceans, with discarded fishing nets being one of the most dangerous sources.

Every year, about 640,000 tons of fishing nets are abandoned in our oceans, trapping and entangling marine life, damaging coral reefs, and even ending up in our food and water sources. After fishermen forget their nets in the water or leave them on shore, the nets enter a vicious cycle of waste that hurts our planet. More broadly, our society’s ‘take-make-dispose’ approach is contributing to the rapid exhaustion of our planet’s precious resources. With these nets taking a toll on our environment, we need to act now to protect our collective future.

“We all have a shared responsibility toward our planet and future generations,” said Nileshkumar Kukalyekar, Business Director South Asia at Royal DSM’s Engineering Materials business. “There can be no plan B because there is no planet B. It’s imperative that we work together to develop creative solutions that help accelerate our shift to a more sustainable world.”

With this sustainability-focused mindset, DSM partnered with Samsung, a leading company in the mobile industry, to develop innovative and eco-conscious technology. “As a leading innovator in mobile experiences, Samsung is committed to using technology as a powerful tool to mitigate the impacts of climate change and help people adopt more sustainable lifestyles,” said Pranveer Singh Rathore, Materials R&D Manager MX Business at Samsung Electronics. “With our new Galaxy device, we're showcasing how our innovation can improve product design and minimize our environmental impact at the same time: the device incorporates Akulon® RePurposed , a high-performance polymer made from discarded ocean-bound fishing nets collected in and around the Indian Ocean. This marks an exciting step forward in our sustainability journey, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our partners, including DSM.”

Protecting Our Oceans with Akulon® RePurposed

DSM’s journey with discarded fishing nets dates back to 2017, when Nileshkumar and his colleagues began to research ways to contribute to cleaner oceans and help customers drive a low-carbon circular economy. They found that they could do this by giving abandoned fishing nets a new life as part of valuable, high-performance materials. Working together with a local partner in India, DSM collected, sorted, cleaned, and processed the nets into polyamide resin pellets. Nileshkumar and his team then transformed these pellets into Akulon® RePurposed, an eco-conscious polymer that can be reinforced with glass fiber and is made with at least 80% recycled polyamide 6.

“Central to our mission in developing this polymer was creating a solution that benefited all stakeholders: the environment at large, the local community collecting the nets, and our customers,” said Nileshkumar. “Thanks to its unique properties, Akulon® RePurposed offers an excellent balance of simple design and leading mechanical performance, and can be applied to various industries such as automotive, consumer goods, and electronic devices.”

Partnering with Samsung Electronics

“As we explored our next stage of innovation at Samsung, we found an opportunity to elevate our efforts to reduce plastic pollution, especially in our oceans,” said Pranveer. “To ensure our approach of repurposing discarded fishing nets for use in our mobile devices would have maximum impact, we joined hands with DSM to leverage their experience in developing and tailoring Akulon® RePurposed to our specific needs. Through this open collaboration, which married our technology with DSM’s expertise, we successfully developed a solution that bridges the needs of the planet and our Galaxy users.”

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“DSM’s partnership with Samsung exemplifies the power of collaboration in scaling up positive impacts for the planet,” added Nileshkumar. “As the first player to deliver a smartphone device made with Akulon® RePurposed, Samsung shares our ambition to develop sustainable recycled-based solutions that help consumers make more eco-conscious choices in their daily lives.”

Shaping a Better Industry Together

The incorporation of Akulon® RePurposed into Samsung’s latest flagship device, the Galaxy S22 series smartphone, Galaxy Tab S8 series tablet, and Galaxy Book2 Pro series PC, marks an incredible achievement and a milestone in both companies’ sustainability journeys. The device represents a crucial first step toward Samsung’s sustainability vision, Galaxy for the Planet, which aims to deliver tangible climate action across its business, including by incorporating recycled material in all new mobile products by 2025.

“Samsung is committed to applying our learnings from the S22 across our mobile business, and we aim to integrate repurposed ocean-bound plastics into our entire product lineup,” said Pranveer. “We’re excited to see how our partnership with DSM will positively impact the lives of our users and the environment, and we’ll continue to strengthen our efforts in the years to come.”

Together with Samsung, DSM will also continue to deliver sustainable and scalable solutions that help address the climate crisis. “We can all make a difference,” concluded Nileshkumar, “and we hope Samsung’s move to plastics based on recycled ocean-bound fishing nets will inspire many others to take similar steps to make our planet a better place. What started as a small technical innovation project all those years ago is now having a real-world impact! I’m very excited for everything that still lies ahead.”

 

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Published on

03 March 2022

Tags

  • Electronics
  • Sustainability
  • Blog
  • Akulon

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Nileshkumar Kukalyekar

Nileshkumar Kukalyekar is Business Director South Asia at DSM’s Engineering Materials business.

Pranveer Singh Rathore

Pranveer Singh Rathore is Materials R&D Manager MX Business at Samsung Electronics