How can we make our products more sustainable and minimize their adverse environmental impacts throughout their entire life cycles? For each product, we begin answering this question very early on in the product's development. Our “Sustainability by Design Guidelines” give product developers specific information on how to proceed. The guidelines cover such aspects as “sustainable packaging,” “hazardous substances” and “sustainability-oriented device development.”
This approach is in line with our aim of continually improving and expanding our range of sustainable products. It also answers to the growing consumer demand for more-sustainable products for mobile and fixed-network communications.
Introduction of Eco Rating
In 2021, working in cooperation with the telecommunications companies Orange, Telefónica, Telia Company and Vodafone, we launched the Eco Rating initiative, a new sustainability-rating system for cell phones. By the end of 2021, over 150 different cell phones had been evaluated in keeping with the Eco Rating method. The purpose of the rating system is to provide consumers with consistent, precise information about cell phones' environmental impacts throughout their entire life cycles, i.e. throughout their production, use, transport, and disposal. In the system, cell phones are evaluated on the basis of information provided by the manufacturers. The aspects taken into account include durability, reparability and recyclability, climate compatibility, and resource efficiency. With the system, we are improving transparency in the cell-phone industry and thereby helping to reduce its entire ecological footprint. In addition, the Eco Rating system is expected to motivate device manufacturers to develop products that are even more sustainable. In the year under review, the Eco Rating label had been introduced in a total of 24 European countries. Now, it is being successively introduced in non-European countries – including South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay.
Also, since 2021 we have been cooperating with Samsung in the development of a sustainable 5G smartphone, for the mass market, that will be easy to repair and come with a removable battery. The new phone is expected to reach the market by the end of 2022.
Ecological responsibility in procurement
We work closely with our suppliers in order to be able to offer environmentally friendly products. In a sustainable procurement strategy that is valid throughout the Group, we have defined guidelines for our procurement processes.
Our principles in this area are also enshrined in various sets of rules and standards, such as our Supplier Code of Conduct and our procurement guide (Leitfaden für den Einkauf). Our Global Procurement Policy sets forth the sustainability criteria that apply to our Procurement unit. These criteria are taken into account throughout the entire procurement process. In a comprehensive pilot project carried out in 2021, we revised our specific sustainability criteria for selecting suppliers of IT/network hardware products. As of 2022, these new criteria will be applied in selected invitations to tender involving large procurement volumes. The sustainability criteria enter into supplier selections with a weighting of 20 percent. In cases in which a supplier does not satisfactorily fulfill the sustainability requirements set forth in our Supplier Code of Conduct, we initiate an escalation process. We use various control instruments, such as risk analyses and audits, to review compliance with our standards. In addition, our ESG KPIs serve as an important control element in our procurement.
More information on sustainability-oriented procurement is available here.
In an effort entitled “Green Point of Sale,” we have brought together sustainability-oriented measures focused on our shops in Europe.
To make the sustainability aspects of the products in our stores visible to our customers, we use our #GreenMagenta sustainability label and demonstrate our sustainability strategy through various communication campaigns. Also, we carry out sustainability training events for our shop employees, to enable them to provide more-specific sustainability-oriented advising to customers. More than 4 000 employees have participated in such training to date.
Under the “Green Point of Sale” scheme, 100 percent of the electricity used by our shops comes from renewable energies. Also, sustainability criteria figure in the shops’ decor and lighting. Since 2019, all new or renovated major shops in Europe use recyclable LED lamps. In the shops, we also use sustainable, ecologically certified, organically sourced flooring that has earned our #GreenMagenta label. Around 45 stores in Europe are equipped with “green walls” covered with living plants – and over 20 more a planned for 2022. Our green walls are also marked with the #GreenMagenta label. In addition, we have introduced energy-saving screens, and have banned all single-use plastic from stores across Europe since 2020. For example, we have replaced all of the plastic cups for our coffee machines with more-sustainable alternatives. In Austria alone, this policy is saving around 6 000 plastic cups per month. In Germany, shops have introduced bags made of recycled PET plastic. Five recycled PET bottles go into the making of each bag. Plus, we are reducing our paper consumption, and have already introduced paperless stores in Slovakia and the Netherlands. Digital invoices and online payment methods are offered across the board at all national companies. In some shops in Europe, we offer “repair bars,” where we repair or replace displays, rechargeable batteries and back covers of Apple, Samsung and Huawei devices. In 2022, we plan to introduce more-sustainable corporate clothing for the staff in our shops in Germany. To that end, we are aiming to include large shares of ecological and/or recycled materials in the clothing.
Overall, we are aiming to apply sustainability criteria in the design and decor of our shops throughout Europe. At the beginning of 2021, we established a Europe-wide “Green Point of Sale” community to drive sustainability issues forward in regular virtual meetings. The topics included local green initiatives in the national companies, the visibility of our sustainability activities in the stores, paper reduction, and our sustainable cell phone recycling scheme. In 2022, we aim to make the furniture inventory and design of our stores even more sustainable.
Ecologically sustainable products KPI
We are offering our customers more and more products and services that are sustainability oriented. The basis for them is Deutsche Telekom’s “green network,” which is powered 100 percent by renewable energies. We use the #GoodMagenta and #GreenMagenta labels to highlight relevant key aspects of our products and services. Also, in 2021, and in cooperation with other network operators, we introduced the Eco Rating system. With these labelling systems, we transparently show which cell phones make positive contributions to environmental protection. We further expanded our range of sustainable products and services in 2021. In addition to sustainable devices, such as routers, media receivers, and the Fairphone, we also offer sustainable accessories. And our ecologically sustainable portfolio also includes rental models and services for refurbishment and recycling of smartphones and fixed-network devices.
First sustainable 5G smartphone
In the year under review, we introduced the first sustainable 5G smartphone to markets in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands: The Fairphone 4 is currently the world's only smartphone to have been awarded the German “Blue Angel” (“Blauer Engel”) label, a certification for environmentally friendly products. The phone has a modular design that conserves resources and reduces emissions, and it is the first cell phone to be electronic-waste neutral.
Sustainable smartphone circularity
In the year under review, we added the “Trade MyMobile,” “ReUse MyMobile” and “Insure MyMobile” services to our portfolio of sustainable products and services. Under the “Trade MyMobile” (only available in German) scheme, we buy used smartphones – including smartphones from both Deutsche Telekom and other providers. We provide guaranteed, certified erasure of all data. We refurbish many of the devices we buy through this service. In doing so, we refrain from replacing components wherever possible, and instead use innovative procedures that minimize resources consumption. A new, innovative deep polish sustainably renews the phone display. Thus, it does not have to be replaced, but can be reused in a resource-saving way. Prior to being sold, each such device undergoes a total of 65 tests, covering the same functional standards that are applied to new devices. Then the devices are sustainably and securely packaged – and returned into circulation.
For this purpose, we offer the devices, along with a 24-month guarantee, for sale via our “ReUse MyMobile” (only available in German) service – and thereby extend the devices' life cycle and help save resources. Our newly designed packaging is biodegradable – including the environmentally friendly stickers and printing. The inner packaging is sealed and secure, but customers can view the display through a window without a foil while they are still in the shop.
The new “Insure MyMobile” cell-phone insurance including Apple Car Service can be added not only for new devices, but also for refurbished smartphones. This also helps to extend devices' average lifetimes, since devices are repaired free of charge if they are damaged. By buying a “ReUse MyMobile” smartphone, customers can save up to 200 euros in comparison to the purchase of a new phone. These products receive our #GreenMagenta label.
Similar efforts at our national companies
Our national companies also offer ecologically sustainable products and services. For example, in 2021 Magenta Telekom in Austria added the #GreenMagenta-labelled category “Magenta Refurbished” to its portfolio and now uses it to offer refurbished cell phones. At our national companies in Romania and the Czech Republic, customers can rent routers and modems. Such rental devices can easily be reused when they are replaced. In Hungary, our customers may choose the “ExtraNet Green 1 GB” data-expansion option. In its own solar power plants, Magyar Telekom generates enough power to meet the power requirements for data transmission under the option. The power plant generates enough green power to transport about 450 000 gigabytes of data per year.
Offers for business customers
We also want to help our business customers meet their sustainability goals and implement relevant regulatory requirements – such as the EU Green Deal. A total of seven customer solutions of T-Systems International have already received our #GreenMagenta label. Four of them were added in the year under review, including, for example, “M.A.R.S.,” a solution for management of legacy data systems. The data is stored on cloud servers that are operated with 100 percent renewable electricity. In 2021, four products of Telekom Deutschland also received the #GreenMagenta label. Among these is our cell-phone purchase portal for business customers, through which we offer companies a fully circulating system for cell phones. Together with the provider “everphone,” we also offer our business customers the “Device as a Service” model. We manage the entire device lifecycle – including actively retrieving devices from employees, replacing and professionally repairing defective devices, and certified disposal and subsequent recycling. Numerous other Deutsche Telekom offers, and numerous products of other manufacturers, help our customers reduce their carbon footprints. This is the case, for example, with the many home-office solutions we offer – and especially with our web-conferencing systems. In the period under review, we conducted communication campaigns such as “Sustainable with the IoT,” which highlighted Internet-of-Things solutions and their contributions to ecological sustainability, to inform our business customers about sustainability issues.
Measuring progress with performance indicators
We use various performance indicators to measure our progress in expanding our range of sustainable products. For example, we track the numbers of sustainable and refurbished devices in our mobile and fixed-line segments. We also specify the ratio of sales of sustainable products to total sales of all devices. By 2021, more than 40 percent of our fixed-line devices sold and leased groupwide were already sustainable.
Sustainable products Deutsche Telekom Group
In addition, we collect KPIs on the collection of devices for recycling purposes, on products with sustainable packaging, and on offsetting of CO2 emissions through shipping with DHL GoGreen and through tree-planting campaigns.
Online billing for mobile and fixed-line customers in Germany KPI
About 237 million online bills were sent out in 2021. This is the equivalent of around 84 percent of all bills and credit notes for mobile and fixed-line customers in Germany. Since 2017, the data has been collected using a more precise calculation method.
Reporting against standards
- Criterion 2 (Materiality )
- Criterion 10 (Innovation and Product Management)
- Principle 7 (Support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges)
- Principle 8 (Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility)
- V04-13 (Percentage of products or services for increasing eco-efficiency of own products or services)