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November 23, 2022

Samsung Semiconductor Plants Seeds for Sustainable Future

Samsung Semiconductor is on the leading edge of sustainability with its innovative eco-friendly smartphones and monitors that feature new low-power semiconductors incorporating materials recycled from discarded fishing nets and ocean-bound plastics.

The innovations are part of five pillars outlined in the company’s 2022 Sustainability Report – Environment, Our Employees, Sustainable Supply Chain, Empowering Communities and Digital Responsibility – and its efforts to deliver green products and services to customers.

One such service – AI-based SmartThings Energy – helps smart home appliances conserve energy through a power-saving mode. And the company’s SolarCell Remote Control for TVs incorporates a solar cell for convenient charging by sunlight or indoor lighting. The device itself is made of recycled materials.

SEMI spoke with Claire HyunJung Seo, Corporate Vice President in the Device Solutions (DS) Corporate Sustainability Management Office at Samsung Electronics ahead of her keynote at the SEMI Smart and Green Manufacturing Summit held last week during SEMICON Europa 2022.  

SEMI: What initially sparked your interest in sustainability?

HyunJung Seo: I was fortunate to have been exposed to sustainability topics earlier in my career and have ever since been building my expertise on the field, way before it had gotten the attention it receives today.

LogoI started my career as a tech sector analyst and then I became a country manager for Principles of Responsible Investments (United Nations-supported), or UN PRI, since the 2008 economic crash. It was back then, at UN PRI, that I presented myself as a sustainability enthusiast. Throughout my career, I built my professionalism analyzing sustainable values of entities from a responsible investor’s point of view. Working with diverse stakeholders including international organizations, investors, and consultants has broadened my knowledge and allowed me to understand sustainability as a collective interest. This is why I am strongly committed to contribute towards our goal: build and execute strategies for corporate sustainability.

SEMI: How is sustainability shaping the semiconductor industry today? What do you think is the most driving sustainability imperative?  

HyunJung Seo: I think we need to put sustainability imperatives into a larger perspective because now, sustainability should be at the core of all business strategies, no industry excluded. At Samsung Semiconductor, we prioritize sustainability and green manufacturing goals as we set our business objectives and establish future growth goals.

Going deeper, we are sure that semiconductors are fundamental to every technology we enjoy today and will onward. Thus the reduction of carbon emissions is crucial for the technology industry as a whole. At Samsung Semiconductor we recognize this, and we meticulously manage all our production processes, from raw materials selection and product development to manufacturing and waste disposal. Our strength to create cutting-edge low-power chips also echoes our core vision. Under the slogan Technology that makes technology sustainable, we want to build a sustainable future with technology at its core.

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SEMI: What is the most pressing next step for the semiconductor industry players to pursue this sustainability goal?

HyunJung Seo: Now most companies already have internal goals to fight climate change but it is clear that this is a challenge that should be addressed and resolved together.

And so as a global corporate industry leader, Samsung Semiconductor is actively involved in global climate initiatives to improve our environment and ecosystem and will continue to contribute and lead for a sustainable semiconductor ecosystem. We are a founding member of the newly formed Semiconductor Climate Consortium (SCC) and part of the Open Compute Project (OCP) Sustainability Initiatives that includes major data center players.

Moreover, we continue to keep our stakeholders current on our sustainability efforts, one of which is developing an environment index called Semiconductor Environmental Performance Index (SEPI) specifically for semiconductor players.

SEMI: What can semiconductor companies do to improve manufacturing and create new products and services for a sustainable future?

HyunJung Seo: At Samsung Semiconductor we continue to innovate and develop new technology for a sustainable future. One great example is our Regenerative Catalytic System (RCS), a large-capacity integrated greenhouse gas treatment facility with up to 95% processing efficiency. Our low-power consumer products also contribute to our sustainability goals.

Our next-level process and design technology to our semiconductor improves performance and power efficiency. Through innovative technologies such as EUV process and utilizing dynamic voltage technology, our key memory products, LPDDR5X improved its speed by 30% and power efficiency by 20% from its predecessor. Moreover, thanks to High-K Metal Gate and TSV technology, DDR5 also saw a 125% improvement in speed and a 30% improvement in power efficiency compared to its predecessor. This will help maximize energy savings for data centers, AI applications, and high-performance computing. We are confident that, through our innovative technology, we can truly achieve Net Zero and contribute to our global IT industry and beyond.

SEMI: How can semiconductor manufacturing analytics help leverage data to address sustainability initiatives?

HyunJung Seo: Despite the many complexities of manufacturing semiconductors, Samsung Electronics is establishing a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) process and will identify carbon footprint metrics for all of our products. In the near future, we plan to conduct a third-party assessment on our LCA process and database to ensure its credibility. We are also exploring alternatives to raw materials that will help reduce emissions starting with R&D.

Reflecting our commitment, we attained the Reducing CO2 label by the Carbon Trust for our core memory products in 2020 and 2021 after reducing production-related greenhouse gas emissions by 680,000, equivalent to the volume of greenhouse gases absorbed by 11.3 million trees.
 

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SEMI: What is the primary challenge to driving stronger sustainability legislation and regulations?

HyunJung Seo: With sustainability regulations in their early stages, we need more industry-specific assessment tools and regulations. At Samsung Semiconductor, we believe that we can contribute to help guide the industry in setting the right goals. It is also why we joined the SCC and have been transparently and proactively sharing our way forward for sustainability. In the process, we put massive effort into developing a Semiconductor Environmental Performance Index (SEPI) so we can assess our sustainability status within the industry, look for ways to improve and set further goals.

SEMI: What are your wishes for the semiconductor industry?

HyunJung Seo: Recently Samsung Semiconductor released our goals for carbon reduction, water recycling, waste disposal and pollutant treatment. We continue to drive toward our environmental goals with technology at is core believing that, with technology, we can contribute and bring meaningful change for a sustainable future, especially on our way to Net Zero. We also anticipate working in a collaborative spirit with our industry partners because a collective effort is a necessity for the challenges ahead.

Watch video with Claire HyunJung Seo. 

HSClaire HyunJung Seo is Corporate Vice President at Samsung Electronics DS Division in the Corporate Sustainability Management Office and leads corporate sustainability and ESG integration for the Division. Her expertise is in responsible investment and sustainability consulting. She has more than 20 years of experience in the field. Download the 2022 Samsung Electronics Sustainability Report. Learn more about Samsung's sustainability initiatives. 

Serena Brischetto is director of marketing and digital engagement at SEMI Europe.