I make
heating
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out of
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waste

IT entrepreneur Günther Bonin on his maritime waste collection

New ways to combat plastic waste in the oceans

Researchers forecast that there will be more pieces of plastic in our oceans than fish by the year 2050. Over time, the plastic disintegrates into tiny micro particles that end up in our bodies through food. Munich-based IT entrepreneur and enthusiastic sailor Günther Bonin gave up his old life and founded the organization One Earth – One Ocean. His goal: Maritime waste collection that picks up plastic from the ocean. His vision: To turn plastic into fuel for ships in the medium term.


We mustn’t forget that plastic is just one element of a much bigger problem

Birgit Klesper, Senior Vice President, Group Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability at Deutsche Telekom until the end of 2021, in an interview on resource conservation and circular economy

Ms. Klesper, plastic is poisoning the oceans – is it time for a rethink?

Absolutely. We have to take a long, hard look at our plastic consumption. There are many situations where we could get rid of the plastic and replace it with more environmentally friendly materials – in packaging, for example. However, there are also some scenarios, such as in medicine, where there is no substitute for plastics – not yet, at least. In cases where we can’t do without plastic, we have to make sure the waste doesn’t end up in the environment, but is instead disposed of properly and recycled. All the same, we mustn’t forget that plastic is just one element of a much bigger problem. We need to raise awareness about resource conservation not only in relation to plastic, but also in many other areas.

Can you explain that in more detail?

We are living beyond our means! By August, we will have reached the limit of our planet’s capacity to naturally replenish the resources we are consuming in the same year. It’s obvious that this can’t go on forever. We’re all familiar with the problems – overfishing the oceans, deforestation, growing mountains of garbage, increasing amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere, and the natural disasters these cause. We need to come up with a solution fast. If we want to maintain our lifestyle, we need to move away from a disposable society to a circular economy.

What exactly is meant by a “circular economy”?

In a circular economy, the resources used are fully returned to the production process after the product’s life cycle has ended. Key to this are the elements of reuse, recycle, and repair, along with extended service lives and product sharing. Why does everyone need their own drill, when it will spend most of the time in the basement, not being used? To start with, however, production itself must of course be sustainable.

You want to see responsible management of resources – what are the best ways of achieving this?

Digitalization is an excellent way to conserve resources. If we store our holiday photos in the Magenta Cloud, for example, we don’t need a hard drive of our own. And where there’s no hard drive, no raw materials are being used, electricity consumption is reduced, and no waste is produced. The key word here is dematerialization.

But data needs to be stored somewhere, even in the cloud.

That’s right, but we can do it much more effectively than our customers. Thanks to effective capacity utilization, our highly secure, energy-efficient data centers require less hardware, which means less energy consumption. In addition, we are on the way to reducing our emissions to zero – that means eliminating our carbon footprint. This also includes emissions arising from the manufacture and use of our products. Our customers are already surfing on Deutsche Telekom’s green network.

What else is Deutsche Telekom doing in terms of conserving resources?

The Deutsche Telekom Board of Management approved the holistic “We care for our planet” environmental project – because it will take many steps, big and small. The measures in the program range from the Green Shop concept and sustainable mobility to resource-friendly products. We are creating transparency in relation to the latter through our #GoodMagenta and #GreenMagenta labels, which enable our customers to recognize which of our products offer sustainable added value. We are also getting our staff involved and supporting grassroots initiatives throughout the Group. In Germany alone, there are now more than 260 employees who are active as “Green Pioneers” – our sustainability ambassadors.

We have made environmental protection part of the program

Whether in our company or with our suppliers and customers, we aim to boost the responsible handling of resources at all levels of our value chain. To this end, we are reducing resource consumption in our company, cutting waste, and ensuring proper disposal and recycling. We work closely with our suppliers to make our products more environmentally friendly. We are cutting down on packaging and help our customers reduce their own environmental footprint with our sustainable products and solutions. We make sustainability benefits transparent using our #GoodMagenta and #GreenMagenta labels. We take used devices back and ensure they are reused or properly recycled. Our networks enable sharing platforms. In addition to this, we are notably promoting resource conservation by virtualizing our products.

SDG 12 – conserving resources

With our comprehensive “#GreenMagenta Program” we are contributing towards the 12th sustainable development goal of the United Nations.

Our “#GreenMagenta Program”

Whether in our products and networks, in our buildings and shops, or in relation to mobility, our „#GreenMagenta Program“ further expands our commitment to climate and environmental protection and implements resource conservation measures. For example, as part of our “PLASMA” project in Germany, we have implemented more than 160 measures and reduced our electricity consumption since it was launched in 2018.

We have now reached our project goal and save around 274 GWh annually. This corresponds to the annual consumption of around 68 000 four-person households. In addition, we are switching the product packaging to sustainable alternatives: As of mid-2022, all new Deutsche-Telekom-branded products introduced to the European market are to be sustainably packaged. And there is also change for devices from other manufacturers: in 2021, more than two thirds of all smartphones sold by Deutsche Telekom in the EU were already sustainably packaged. We also aim to use sustainable packaging for third-party smartphones in Europe by the end of 2022. Another example of the measures implemented under our “#GreenMagenta Program” is the operation of rapid charging stations for electric vehicles through our subsidiary Comfort Charge. This has achieved a reduction in CO2 emissions of 548 metric tons, which is the equivalent of the CO2 emissions produced by a passenger car on a journey of about three million kilometers. Within the Group, we are using more efficient vehicles and are increasingly opting for alternative drive systems such as electric and natural gas. This approach has enabled us to cut our fleet’s CO2 emissions in Germany by over 65 percent since 2008. You can read more about sustainable mobility here.

More efficient networks for data transmission

As part of our “PLASMA” project, we are replacing the rectifier systems in our central offices with more energy-efficient ones. This saves us around 274 GWh a year – equivalent to the annual consumption of around 68 000 four-person households.

Less is more

One example of resource conservation in our products is the Speedport Smart 4 router. Some 95 percent of its housing is made of recycled plastic. To protect it during transport, we use PaperFoam – a material made of industrial starch, cellulose fibers, and water that can be disposed of with paper waste or composted.

A cloud that conserves resources

With cloud computing, our customers no longer need to be bothered with their own servers and storage media. Cloud computing is more resource and energy-efficient than running your own infrastructure outside of the cloud. Our data centers require up to 80 percent less energy thanks to more effective capacity utilization and less hardware.

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We save up to 70 metric tons of paper a year thanks to custom-fit boxes for our products.

Technology in a made-to-measure suit

We are implementing made-to-measure packaging for the equipment of the technicians and the field service with our packaging machines in Steinfurt. Rather than fixed-size standard boxes, fanfold corrugated is used to produce boxes to specific dimensions in around ten seconds. Cutting-edge technology calculates the perfect size in the blink of an eye and thus saves tons of paper. However, it doesn’t matter how well a box fits, there will always be empty space that needs to be filled to protect the contents. The waste cardboard generated when the boxes are cut to size is therefore shredded and used as filling material. This not only saves space in the paper waste bins, but also conserves paper resources – around 50 to 70 metric tons a year. Every metric ton of paper not used also saves as much as 50 000 liters of water, 10 000 kWh of energy, and one metric ton of CO2.

“Green Shop”

We use 100 percent electricity from renewable sources in our Telekom Shops. In all new or renovated larger shops in Europe, we use recyclable LED lights and sustainable flooring marked with the #GreenMagenta label. Aroud 45 stores in Europe are equipped with “green walls” covered with living plants – and over 20 more a planned for 2022. In addition, energy-saving screens have been introduced, single-use plastic has been banned from the shops and paper consumption has been reduced. We offer our shop employees sustainability training so that they can provide our customers with more specialized advice. At the beginning of 2021, we established a Europe-wide community to further drive sustainability in our shops forward in regular virtual meetings.

We are continuously developing our shop concept by reviewing it, innovating and creating new shop experiences for our customers. Sustainability is an important part of our journey. We already use ecological flooring, recyclable LED lights, and green plant walls in several shops across Europe.

Paperless office

By 2025, we intend to completely eliminate paper from our offices as far as this is possible. This is an ambitious goal in view of the roughly 3 200 metric tons of paper we consume at our German sites alone. One of the biggest contributions to achieving this goal is online billing and increasingly digital communication with our customers. Through these and other measures, we saved a total of around 275 metric tons of paper in Germany in 2021. Thanks to awareness-raising and digitalization measures, we are printing out fewer and fewer documents at our workplaces - and aim to significantly reduce the number of printers in the future. After the successful launch of a pilot project to reduce printing at the Deutsche Telekom Headquarters in Bonn, another site will soon follow. Moreover, work materials such as notebooks are increasingly being replaced with digital alternatives wherever possible. Until we reach our target, we will obtain our paper from sustainable sources and use certified paper. The national companies can also demonstrate success when it comes to the “paperless office” - at Slovak Telekom, online billing saves 10 metric tons of paper per month; Brazil, Croatia, Russia, and Romania have cut their paper consumption by introducing digital contract signing, and the “MyNet.Go” app enables staff at the OTE Group in Greece to submit paperless vacation requests, among other things.


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More than 320 voluntary “Green Pioneers” within Deutsche Telekom in Germany are committed to improving resource conservation and are driving the transformation to an even more sustainable company from within.

Green Pioneers – our sustainability ambassadors

In January 2019, we launched the “Green Pioneers” movement. Around 320 members of staff from 53 sites have meanwhile joined the movement in Germany. They raise awareness of resource efficiency in the workplace among the workforce and also provide inspiration for our core business. On their own initiative and on a voluntary basis, they develop green ideas for more sustainability at Deutsche Telekom – we create the necessary scope for this, for example within the framework of flexible working arrangements. Among other things, some Green Pioneers regularly conducted digital training sessions and workshops on environmental topics for colleagues. Other Green Pioneers organize activities on sustainable mobility, such as “Cycling to work.” Since fall 2021, participation in this initiative has also been possible via our EmployeeApp, which makes the joint “collection” of bike kilometers and CO2 savings even easier. On the initiative of the Green Pioneers, the first bike repair stations were set up at six German sites. In the national companies, e.g. in Austria, Spain, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Mexico, our employees have also adopted similar grassroots approaches. For example, they are implementing campaigns for cell phone collection and to avoid plastic waste.

Dedicated to a longer life for devices

Millions of used cell phones lie abandoned in household drawers, no longer being used – a considerable treasure trove of raw materials. Up to 100 percent of the materials can be reused – as recycled metals or for energy generation. We voluntarily go beyond legal requirements when it comes to reusing or properly recycling used cell phones and other used devices. The OTE Group is one of the first companies in Greece to recondition modems and TV decoders. Returned devices are given a check, repaired, and returned to use. If repair is not possible, the equipment goes to licensed disposal companies. In 2021, the Group collected more than 480 000 devices, more than 260 000 of which could be reconditioned for use while 200 000 were recycled.

In the USA, mobile customers can hand in their electronic devices to T-Mobile US – whether a cell phone, battery, accessory, tablet, or laptop, and regardless of brand and model. These devices are also reconditioned to be returned to use or, if that’s not possible, they are recycled. T-Mobile US collects millions of used cell phones on an annual basis. Since 2008, more than 35 million refurbished devices have been resold.

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T-Mobile US has been able to refurbish and resell over 35 million electronic devices since 2008.

We offer a great many products, services, and activities to help our customers cut their CO2 emissions. In addition, we set the target of reducing all the CO2 emissions generated in our value chain to zero.

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