Resource scarcity and raw materials sourcing

Production of electronic devices like smartphones is harmful to the environment and requires large amounts of water and energy. Because the production facilities of suppliers and manufacturers are often located in regions where water is scarce or the population does not have sufficient access to electricity, the availability of resources plays a more significant role there than it does in countries like Germany.

Moreover, valuable raw materials like metals are used in producing smartphones and other ICT  products. Some metals, including tantalum, gold, tin and tungsten, are extracted from ores, some of which are extracted in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo under conditions that are inhumane and/or associated with civil war. The parties involved in conflict in the region use the profit for purposes such as financing civil wars. Deutsche Telekom does not produce any ICT  products itself. The Group purchases these products from international manufacturers and sells them at its stores, offers them in the context of service provision or uses them in its network infrastructure. We require our suppliers to refrain from using any of these conflict resources. We also support industry initiatives, such as the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative, that work toward creating a more sustainable supply chain.

Deutsche Telekom requires its suppliers to protect the environment and use resources responsibly. These requirements are documented in our Social Charter . They are also described in detail in our CR clause, which has been a permanent feature of our General Terms and Conditions for Purchasing since June 2013. We require our suppliers to provide information on their activities as part of a self-assessment and conduct supplier audits to emphasize the importance of these requirements. In the scope of the audits, we check whether our suppliers use an environmental management system and how they manage their energy and water consumption, as well as other factors. We also explicitly ask them about their waste management system.

Handling critical raw materials
Deutsche Telekom collaborates with suppliers and industry initiatives to effect responsible raw materials sourcing. We are particularly forceful in making sure that no conflict resources are used in producing the devices we sell or use in our network technology.

Deutsche Telekom published its Coltan Statement in 2005 and added the Statement on Extractives to it in 2009. The use of conflict-free resources has been a product requirement on our manufacturers since 2014. The purpose of this decision is to make sure that both our direct suppliers as well as their sub-suppliers minimize the social risks that come with extracting raw materials. We require our suppliers to comply with Deutsche Telekom's Statement on Extractives . Policies regarding conflict resources and their use are also an integral aspect of our supplier audits.

In cooperation with the Global e-Sustainability Initiative and the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition industry associations, we work to advance the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI). This initiative helps companies identify conflict resources and avoid trade and production involving those resources. 

Telekom has supported the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI) ever since it was founded in 2008. CFSI is the largest business initiative for responsible raw materials sourcing. Its objective is to identify conflict resources and prevent their extraction and sale.

CFSI is based on a working group that was founded in 2008 by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative and the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition industry associations (Extractives Working Group) to address sustainable raw materials extraction. Since then, the number of metal processing companies and smelters participating in CFSI has continued to grow. 150 of these companies have been audited in compliance with the standard audit protocol (as of March 2015). Another 48 have committed themselves to completing the audit process.

We have been a sponsor of the wide-scale Clean Cell Phones campaign run by the Catholic aid organization Missio since 2013. Missio calls upon cell phone manufacturers to require their suppliers to provide proof that they do not use conflict resources. In 2014 we also addressed responsible resource procurement at several dialog events with different stakeholders.

On May 31, 2014, for example, a Telekom Deutschland sustainability expert met with representatives from the Democratic Republic of Congo and experts from the Missio branch in Aachen to discuss the topic of "Congo, war and our cell phones" at the Catholic Day event held in Regensburg.

Conflict resources were also a key issue at our sixth Sustainable Procurement Stakeholder  Dialog Day on March 26, 2014. Our discussions with suppliers and NGOs like Missio have made it clear how important it is to get the entire industry involved so that we can achieve far-reaching improvements. Participants in these discussions feel that the European transparency guideline is not enough to make this happen. As an initial step, Deutsche Telekom is planning to raise awareness of OECD  guidelines at other companies.