Following a two month campaign, over 73,000 outraged consumers – including 15,000 Samsung customers – signed a petition imploring Samsung not to pursue a joint venture with logistics company, Korindo, known for its destruction of rainforests.
More than 2,000 outraged Samsung customers sent emails, 10,000 people took action online, and one million individuals viewed online videos concerning the matter.
Today, environmental NGO, Mighty Earth, and consumer group, SumOfUs, announced that Samsung had cut business ties and had no plans to pursue a joint venture with Korean-Indonesian conglomerate, Korindo.
Angry messages were sent to the company, as outraged customers expressed their dissent and swapped to rival companies:
“I own two of your TVs and recently switched my Galaxy back to Apple because of your Korindo involvement”, read one email.
“As long as you continue to have an environmentally irresponsible ethos I will not be a customer, and I will share that with my friends and on social media”.
The announcement follows nearly two months of intense online campaigning from both advocacy groups. A signed petition was reportedly hand delivered by Mighty Earth to Samsung’s Seoul Head Office. Sources state Mighty Earth met with staff of Samsung’s Corporate Social Responsibility team.
The campaign was birthed after news coverage in Korea revealed that Samsung IT subsidiary, Samsung SDS, and Korindo were pursuing a logistics JV in Indonesia, with some outlets publishing images of executives from both companies shaking hands.
Campaign Director of Mighty Earth, Deborah Lapidus, states of Samsung’s decision:
“Samsung is doing the right thing by dropping ties with the notorious deforester Korindo”
“Korindo’s deforestation has put its business at risk in many different sectors, not just palm oil. We hope Korindo wakes up to the reality that even from a business perspective, it can’t continue to allow deforestation”.
Fatah Sadaoui, Campaign Manager with SumOfUs, also offered her praise of the decision:
“We are glad that Samsung took the messages from its customers to heart”
“It was clear from the overwhelming response to our petition that people expect a company with as big a brand name and global reach as Samsung to maintain high standards of environmental and social responsibility for its own business and its business partners. I think Samsung was smart to work to boost its global reputation by severing ties with Korindo”.
Whilst the groups are pleased with Samsung’s decision, they do state Samsung has some work to do in social responsibility, mostly concerning two palm oil plantations it owns in Indonesia. Korean human rights lawyers with organisation ‘Advocates for Public Interest Law’ completed an investigation of Samsung’s palm oil plantations and noted several labour and community rights violations. The company it has joint ventured with, Ganda Group, is said to be driving notable deforestation in Papua, Indonesia.
Speaking of the matter and influence on Samsung’s brand, Lapidus remarks:
“Samsung has taken the first step to delink its business from rainforest destruction. Now it must go all the way”
“Samsung needs to remedy its human rights abuses on its own palm oil plantations and require its joint venture partner, Ganda Group, to adopt a strict forest conservation policy aligned with the industry standard for responsible production”
“Fixing its palm oil problem would be a great way for Samsung to begin to restore trust in its brand”.