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

Circular economy

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Here is a selection of material topics from the 2015 CR-Report. More information can be found in the chapters Customers & productsSuppliers and Climate & environment.

Too many used cell phones and smartphones are stuck in drawers or disposed of illegally with the household waste. Germany's recycling and reuse rate for small electronic appliances is much too low. Which is why used cell phones, smartphones and tablets need to either be repaired and reused or recycled properly. We have been offering different ways for people to hand in their devices since 2003.

Customers have been able to return their used, high-end cell phones and smartphones to Telekom Shops under a buyback program since 2013. They then receive a voucher equivalent to the monetary value of their devices that they can use to make purchases at a Telekom Shop. In 2014 we introduced the online collection portal Handysammelcenter in cooperation with Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH). Companies can use the portal to properly and safely dispose of their used cell phones and smartphones free of charge and receive a certificate as confirmation. Devices in good condition are generally reused. Public authorities, associations and other organizations can use the portal to initiate their own collection campaigns. The entire collection process has been certified by DEKRA. Any profit generated in this way is donated to nature conservation and environmental protection projects run by DUH.

During the reporting period we collaborated with DUH to support the cell-phone collection campaign run by the churches of the state of Baden-Württemberg. The goal is to collect 100,000 used phones. The campaign is scheduled to run for two years and end in May 2017. The members of the German Bundestag also continue to support our cell-phone collection efforts. Just like in 2014, they collected used cell phones at their offices and from their constituencies in 2015. They ended up collecting 2,500 used phones, more than twice as many as the year before.

The collection campaign at schools in the state of Saarland, in which we have been participating since the 2014/2015 school year, was extended due to the great response. The campaign is under the patronage of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Minister President of Saarland, and includes special course offers on cell-phone collection and resource efficiency. The campaign is now open to associations and communities in addition to educational institutions. The collection campaign has been honored as a “WerkstattN-project” from the German Council for Sustainable Development and therefore belongs to one of the 100 most innovative sustainability projects in Germany.

In 2015, we collected 230,751 used cell phones and smartphones throughout Germany and either reused them or had them properly recycled. The whole process is DEKRA certified and fulfills high data protection requirements. The joint cell-phone collection system run by Telekom Deutschland and DUH entered its twelfth year in 2015. More than 2 million used cell phones have been collected so far.

To read our statement on the MagentaMobil Happy petition, click here.

With our health, safety and environmental management system (HSE img) we have made a commitment to continually improving our performance in these areas. The system is based on international standards OHSAS 18001 img on occupational health and safety and ISO 14001 on environmental management.

Our aim is to improve resource efficiency throughout the Group by steadily reducing the amount of waste produced and improving our recycling processes. We also support cell-phone collection campaigns in order to regain valuable resources. For this purpose, we have introduced the Used Cell-Phone Collection ESG KPI img, which compares the number of cell phones in circulation to the number of collected devices.

We regularly collect Group-wide data on the amount of waste we produce. Our International Waste Management Framework guarantees standardized guidelines for all Deutsche Telekom companies. Our national companies are required to use this framework as a basis for identifying their own measurable targets and then monitor target achievement. This approach makes it possible to flexibly address the specific requirements of each country and company without working with quantitative objectives.

Resource efficiency is a priority for Deutsche Telekom at workplaces, too. We use recycled paper and energy-efficient multifunctional printers and encourage employees to use green office supplies. In order to reduce the amount of paper used throughout the Group, Deutsche Telekom asks its employees to have their salary statements sent to their "De-Mail" account instead of having a printout sent by post. Around 20 percent of employees have already canceled delivery by post. We launched the Click Green campaign in early 2016 in order to motivate even more employees to make the switch. With the project, Deutsche Telekom sponsors a reforestation project at the Westwald in Darmstadt. 

Our national companies are responsible for implementing our waste management strategy according to standardized Group-wide principles. Based on our International Waste Management Framework, which was approved in 2013, they develop a waste strategy or update their current strategy and identify appropriate targets: The reduction of hazardous waste has top priority. An international status survey on the implementation process is currently being planned. The idea is to get a central overview of the current status of strategy development and target definition.

Requirements for Group-wide copper cable recycling
Our activities are currently focused on disposing of the copper wires that have been the main component of telephone lines for decades. These are being replaced over the course of our fiber-optic roll-out. The national companies still need support when it comes to meeting our standards for responsible waste management in terms of recycling and disposing of old copper cables. In response, our waste experts came up with a draft of copper-cable recycling requirements and submitted it to the national companies for approval. As a result, a guideline that is mandatory throughout the Group was introduced in January 2016.

Our entire network will be migrated to IP img technology by 2018. Over the next few years we will be dismantling tons of used electronics. We intend to recover precious metals such as gold and tantalum from the resulting electronic scrap.

The tantalum used to manufacture condensers is extracted from coltan. Coltan is considered to be a conflict resource, which is why recycling is important when it comes to enabling conflict-free manufacturing of condensers.

In 2013 we launched a project in collaboration with bifa environmental institute in order to develop the optimal method for dismantling and recycling tantalum condensers. We had to dismantle the condensers manually during the pilot phase since chemical and thermal processes are not suitable.

In 2015 we studied other ways to efficiently dismantle tantalum condensers.  In an effort to integrate the latest research on different methods of tantalum recycling in the process, Deutsche Telekom cooperated with Deutsche Umwelthilfe to organize an expert discussion with representatives from a number of research and recycling institutions.  We will choose the best recycling process available and then put it into operation in 2016.

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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