• Act responsibly. Enable sustainability.
  • 2015 Corporate Responsibility Report
2015 Corporate Responsibility Report

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 img 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 like the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative, which work toward a more sustainable supply chain.


  • Conserving resources and promoting responsible resource extraction


  • Coltan Statement
  • Statement on Extractives
  • Supporting the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative
  • Conflict-free resources integrated into our manufacturer product requirements
  • Research project on recycling tantalum


Deutsche Telekom requires its suppliers to protect the environment and use resources responsibly. These requirements are documented in our Social Charter img. 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. One of our requirements on suppliers is that they do not use any conflict resources in the devices they sell or the network technology they employ.

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 img. Policies regarding conflict resources and their use are also an integral aspect of our supplier audits.

In cooperation with the Global e-Sustainability Initiative img 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.

Recycled tantalum, on the other hand, is considered conflict-free, which is why Telekom Deutschland GmbH is conducting a research project on recycling precious metals such as gold and tantalum from outdated network infrastructure components.

Deutsche Telekom has been supporting the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSP)  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 img 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. 184 of these companies have been audited in compliance with the standard audit protocol. Another 50 have committed themselves to completing the audit process (as of February 2015).

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