Our approach to sustainable products and services

Our contribution to the SDGs

Our core business consists of operating and expanding our network. It provides the foundation for digital participation. As of 2021, Deutsche Telekom’s entire network is “green,” with 100 percent of its power coming from renewable sources. Also, by providing innovative, network-based solutions, we support our customers in reducing their own CO2 emissions and contributing to climate protection.

We want to make our entire product range more and more sustainable. Furthermore, we take a holistic perspective on this issue, a perspective that extends to the rates and devices we offer, and that includes a comprehensive approach to achieving a circular economy that covers a product-life-cycle spectrum from production and sustainable packaging to product use and product recycling. This requires thoroughgoing measures along all stages of the value chain. Consequently, we begin with procurement and strive to ensure that our suppliers comply with our ecological, social, and ethical sustainability requirements.

Recognized ecolabels
A number of our products are certified by recognized ecolabels such as the Blue Angel and the TÜV Certified Green Product label. The strict requirements of these labels help us see how we can further improve our products. They also help us inform our customers of the benefits of choosing sustainable products. In addition, we have introduced #GoodMagenta and #GreenMagenta, our own labels for sustainable products, services, and initiatives from Deutsche Telekom.

Also, during the period under review, and in cooperation with other mobile network operators, we developed a sustainability ranking system for mobile phones – the Eco Rating. It enables customers to see at a glance which products score well with regard to durability, reparability and recyclability, climate compatibility and resources conservation.

We have also been making our product packaging more and more sustainable. In 2021, about 1.4 million new Telekom-branded products sold or leased in Germany were sustainably packaged. As of mid-2022, product packaging for all new Deutsche Telekom-branded products introduced to the German and European market will be converted to sustainable alternatives. Wherever possible, we reduce package sizes with the help of special packaging machines. Increasingly, we are relying on PaperFoam, a bio-based and biodegradable alternative to conventional packaging materials, as a means of protecting devices within packages.

For example, the packaging for our Speedport Smart 4 router contains no plastic whatsoever and is thus easy to recycle. Most of the paper used is already recycled, or comes from sustainable forestry (FSC®-certified).

Responsible use of resources
Our efforts to use resources responsibly in connection with products include efforts in their production phase. In the Speedport Smart 4 router, for example, we limit use of harmful substances (such as in electronic components) above and beyond the extent required by law. Furthermore, a total of 90% of the housing of the Speedport Smart 4 consists of recycled material.

At the end of products’ life cycles, we help to ensure that they are reused or properly recycled. In fact, we began accepting returned used mobile devices for this purpose back in 2003. Since then, in Germany, we have helped to conserve resources by recycling, or providing for reuse, more than 3.3 million used devices.

In Germany, persons interested in giving used smartphones a second life can sell them to us, via the “Trade MyMobile” portal, for refurbishment. Via the “ReUse MyMobile” portal, we sell products that are fully refurbished and completely free of any technical defects. Each such product comes with a fresh 24-month warranty. Such offers are marked with the #GreenMagenta label.

To promote sustainability, we are also committed to ensuring that routers and media receivers are not simply disposed of after being replaced. With our “Rent instead of Buying” rental service, we conserve resources, reduce the volume of electronic waste, and thus avoid carbon emissions. Last year, we returned around one million refurbished devices to our customers in Germany.

Subsidized rates
In Germany and at several national companies, we offer various subsidized rates to enable customers on low incomes and people with disabilities to make calls at reasonable prices.

Measuring progress
We measure our progress by means of various KPIs:

  • We use the ESG KPI imgSustainable Revenue Share” determine the proportion of sales generated with products and services that are classified as more sustainable, based on a risk-benefit analysis.
  • With our “Ecologically sustainable products” KPI, we show what share of our entire product range consists of sustainable products.
  • We measure the impact of our circular economy concepts with our ESG KPI “Take Back Mobile Devices” and ESG KPI “Take Back CPEs”.
  • We use the ESG KPI “Enablement Factor” to calculate the positive CO2 effects generated as our products are used by customers.
  • With the “Sustainable Product Packaging” KPI, we show what share of Deutsche Telekom-branded products consists of products with sustainable packaging.

Michael Werner

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Michael Werner

Continued analysis of our products’ sustainability benefits KPI

To date, there is no industry-wide established system that provides sustainability information about ICT img products and services. Since 2014 at Deutsche Telekom, we have been using an in-house analysis method to assess the sustainability of our products. This includes, for example, examining the safety of the products, or how well they can be recycled.

We inform our customers about how our products are contributing to sustainability. The results of our analyses also allow us to position ourselves as a responsible company with respect to the competition. In the reporting year, we also included selected products in the analysis along the criteria of the EU taxonomy.

Correlation with SDGs
In the year under review, we reviewed – with support from experts – the sustainability benefits of a number of our products in light of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals img (SDGs). The degree of detail depended on the revenue generated with the product under review. If revenues were high, we considered the impact on all SDGs. Where revenues were limited, we only took the impact on the most relevant SDG into account.

Results of the analysis
In 2021, we studied 33 product groups in detail, analyzing both their contribution to sustainability and their business potential (as of the end of 2021).

We measure the result of this analysis with the ESG KPI img “Sustainable Revenue Share”. The share of revenue from more-sustainable products was around 42 percent in 2021 (excluding T-Mobile US). This is a slight decrease compared to the prior year (44 percent in 2020). A key reason for the slight percentage decrease seen in this area is that total revenue (not including revenue in the United States) grew more strongly than did sustainability-related revenue.

#GoodMagenta and #GreenMagenta labelling
To help our customers make sustainability-oriented decisions, and to highlight our commitment in this area, we label sustainability-oriented products, services and initiatives of Deutsche Telekom with our own #GoodMagenta and #GreenMagenta labels. Deutsche Telekom employees are welcome to suggest offerings that should receive the label. Their suggestions are reviewed by a committee of experts, in an extensive award process.

Since 2020, these labels are called #GoodMagenta and #GreenMagenta. The #GoodMagenta label has been awarded to more than 40 initiatives that promote media literacy and respectful cooperation, while the #GreenMagenta label has been awarded in ways that show we take climate change and its consequences seriously. As part of our #GreenMagenta program for sustainability, we address climate-protection and resource-efficiency issues throughout our value chain, in a variety of ways.

Jonas Kowalski

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Jonas Kowalski

Smart Innovation KPI

In this section, we will introduce some “Smart Innovation” solutions. The associated business models are based on the most advanced technology and provide an immediate value-add for our customers. At the same time, these solutions are also making an ecological and/or social contribution to society.

We are, for example, utilizing future-oriented and widely available technologies to make cities viable for the future and to develop solutions for social challenges. For this, we are relying on innovative NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT img) technology, with which we are paving the way for the Internet of Things img. NB-IoT devices have a large operating range and long battery service lives. Consequently, this technology provides the basis for many innovative uses that are both cost- and energy efficient. Particularly useful areas of application for NB-IoT are, for instance, smart parking, smart cities, smart meters, as well as transport and logistics solutions. One example is the networking of irrigation systems.

For example, we have entered into close cooperation with the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg in the area of urban mobility. At the ITS 2021 transportation and logistics congress, we jointly presented solutions for improved mobility in road traffic - for example, to measure and display available parking spaces using sensors and intelligent dashboards. Another technology enables mobility stations and trucks in the Port of Hamburg to be networked and smartly controlled. These innovations go a long way toward optimizing traffic. Similar projects are also being developed in other cities, for example in Pforzheim.

End of 2021NB-IoT was available in all cities and towns in Germany. Deutsche Telekom has rolled out NB-IoT in 24 countries (in Europe as well as the USA, Russia and Taiwan), most of them have countrywide rollout.

Smart Innovation NB-IoT

Accessible products and services

Our contribution to the SDGs

We want to make it easier for people with disabilities to have access to the knowledge and information society. To that end, we offer services specially tailored to them. Our national companies also strive to provide barrier-free access to their services. Further information is available in the respective country profiles.

Digital assistant for accessibility
The nora Notruf App img (nora emergency-call app), which has been available since 2021, is a digital assistant with one-tap emergency calling functionality. It is a boon for people who have speech or hearing impediments that make it difficult or impossible to make phone calls the usual way. The app is especially attractive by virtue of its versatility. In addition to simply alerting first responders (police, fire department or paramedics), the user can also tap to identify the type of emergency involved, such as a crime in progress, accident, fire, severe illness, flooding, person in distress, or animal in distress. While people with speech or hearing impediments can report emergencies by using the Tess Relay services or sending an emergency fax, those options can wind up wasting valuable time.

We review other products for accessibility as well, and adapt them as necessary. In September 2020, for example, we published an update for the German government's Corona-Warn-App (Covid warning app) that improves the app’s accessibility. Among other things, a note was added indicating that the app hotline supports Tess Relay services for the hearing impaired.

Services for the hearing impaired
In 2003, we set up a hotline ("Deaf Hotline") for deaf and hearing-impaired customers. Every day, up to 50 people contact the hotline. Customers and consultants can see each other using a video-based live chat application and can communicate with each other in sign language.

For deaf customers and members of the German deaf association, Deutscher Gehörlosen-Bund e.V., we operate a special online distribution site (only available in German). There we offer a discounted mobile communications and fixed-line portfolio that is tailored to the exact needs of deaf people. Customers can order their desired plans directly on the website, can contact the employees of the Deaf Hotline or be forwarded to the information exchange platform Deaf Café in the Telekom Hilft community.

Since 2018, hearing-impaired people in Germany have had access to a 24-hour emergency call service with sign language interpreters for emergency situations. The service is jointly financed by the mandatory social security contribution paid by Deutsche Telekom to Germany’s Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency).

Supporting users with simplified language
According to studies, 12 percent of people in Germany are not able to grasp complicated texts. In our endeavor to make it easier for them to access our products, we also offer some of our product information in simpler language. Our #TAKEPART stories and selected pages from our CR report are also made available in simplified language.

Deutsche Telekom supports companies, municipalities, and schools in accessing financial support available for forward-looking investments

Digitalization offers enormous opportunities. Throughout a spectrum ranging from the Internet of Things img (IoT) to big data and artificial intelligence, digital technologies and solutions are facilitating the development of innovative products that have greater energy efficiency and/or durability and can simplify production and work processes. Also, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, digitalized companies and municipalities are more resilient – and better able to handle challenges and crises.

In summer 2020, the German Government approved a “Future Package,” an extensive economic stimulus package designed to stabilize the German economy and equip Germany for the future. The package, which includes a raft of measures aimed at supporting digitalization in private-sector companies, the public sector, and education, boosts Germany’s existing funding scene with far-reaching additional impetus. Under the effort, Germany’s federal and Länder (state) governments are subsidizing digitalization projects at rates of up to 70 percent of the relevant costs (and even more, in some cases).  

Deutsche Telekom is also seeking to provide additional impetus in the area of funding, and thereby support companies, municipalities, and schools even more effectively in their digital transformation processes. Our Group program “Schubkraft” (“Thrust”) (only available in German), for example, offers free pertinent advising, along with practical support in accessing funding opportunities. With our Quick-Check service (only available in German), companies can quickly determine, at no charge, whether their projects are eligible for funding, as well as what funding programs are suitable for the projects. The service is available both online and in the “Meine Förderung” (“My Funding”) app. In addition, we offer individual consultations, provide support (in cooperation with partners) for application processes and assist companies in preparing digitalization plans that can serve as a basis for obtaining funding.

Our efforts on behalf of the non-profit association BePro Velbert e. V. provide a good example of our activities in this area. hanks to the funding it received, this association has been able to move forward significantly with digitalization. For example, it is now using a digital point of sale (POS) system. BePro Velbert offers job opportunities to long-term unemployed persons, and thereby helps them to re-enter the workplace. In order to stay in touch with the modern workplace, the association regularly invests in new equipment. One case in point involved the said digital POS system. Via a contact to Deutsche Telekom’s sales area, the association was put in touch with the company’s “Schubkraft” team. Then, in a customer workshop, the vision and the framework for the association’s project were discussed. In a next step, “Schubkraft” researched the available funding programs and helped the association submit its application. Shortly thereafter, the association’s funding application was approved.

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