Ecological product design

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. There are now nine network operators in total participating in the initiative. By the end of 2022, over 300 different cell phones from 22 different manufacturers had been evaluated based on 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. The label has already been introduced in 36 countries worldwide since the initiative began, with launches currently taking place successively in further countries.

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 2022, we refined specific sustainability criteria for IT and network equipment and for passive products such as fiber-optic img cable. On that basis, and in close cooperation with the telecommunications company Orange, we then developed a harmonized set of criteria. Since 2022, we have been applying these criteria in invitations to tender with budgets of over 10 million euros for IT/NT equipment and fiber-optic cable products, and with a 20 percent weighting factor in supplier-selection processes. In the latter, suppliers’ carbon footprints, and their commitment to ambitious climate goals, are given especially high priority, in keeping with the fact that measures to reduce carbon emissions in our supply chain (Scope 3) play a key role in our efforts to become climate-neutral, throughout our entire value chain, by no later than 2040.

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 img, 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.

Green shop

Using sustainable materials in our stores is an elementary component of our shop concept. In an initiative entitled “Green Point of Sale,” we have brought together sustainability-oriented measures that we are gradually rolling out at our 1 600 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 advice to customers. More than000 employees have participated in such training to date.

Under the Green Point of Sale scheme, 100 percent of the electricity used by our shops in all national companies comes from renewable energies. We are also fitting out our shops in a more sustainable manner. Since 2019, all new or renovated major shops in Europe use recyclable LED lamps. We also use sustainable, ecologically certified, organically sourced flooring in our stores that has earned our #GreenMagenta label. Since 2019, green walls covered with living plants have been a firm feature of our international shop concept. As of the end of 2022, we have installed over 70 green walls in various shops around Europe, with more set to be put up in 2023. 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 around000 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 Austria, Slovakia, and the Netherlands. We have cut our paper usage in Germany, Poland, and Hungary by 85 percent since 2021, achieved in part by opting not to offer printed brochures and flyers in our shops. Digital invoices and online payment methods are offered across the board at all national companies. In some shops in Europe, we offer what we call repair bars, where we repair or replace displays, rechargeable batteries and back covers of Apple, Samsung, and Huawei devices.

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, and our sustainable cell-phone recycling scheme. The #GreenMagenta initiative is already being promoted in over 80 percent of our shops in Germany and Austria, with stores in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Croatia to follow in 2023. In 2023, we also aim to make the furniture inventory and design of our stores even more sustainable and to have our shop furniture manufactured using recycled wood.

As with our shop design, we have also attached great importance to sustainability in the production of our company uniforms, not least in regard to the new uniform for Telekom Shop employees, released in January 2023. We set out to create more sustainable company uniforms for the700 or so staff in our shops. Manufactured from organic wool and recycled polyester, most of these items have now been certified in accordance with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). The GOTS defines internationally recognized requirements for organic textiles, from raw-material harvesting to environmentally-friendly and socially-responsible manufacture. Old company uniforms that are no longer required are recycled and turned into new items such as bags and hair bands.

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 100 percent powered by renewable energies. We use the #GoodMagenta and #GreenMagenta labels to highlight products and services that are especially sustainable. Also, in 2021, and in cooperation with other network operators, we introduced the Eco Rating labelling system, which we use to highlight cell phones that are eco-friendly. In 2022, we further expanded our range of eco-friendly products and services. Now, along with more eco-friendly models of routers, media receivers and phones (the Fairphone), we also offer more eco-friendly accessories. In addition, we offer sustainability-oriented services, such as rental plans, and refurbishment and recycling of smartphones and fixed-network devices. 

The first eco-friendly 5G smartphone
In 2021, and in the framework of our cooperation with Fairphone, a manufacturer based in the Netherlands, we supported the launch of the first eco-friendly 5G smartphone, in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. The phone in question, the Fairphone 4, is currently the only smartphone to have received the German “Blue Angel” ecolabel. The phone has a modular design that is resource-efficient and reduces emissions. As of the year under review, our employees are free to order the new Fairphone as a workplace phone, since it has been certified in keeping with Google’s Android Enterprise Recommended (AER) initiative. By participating in this program, Fairphone is working to offer companies the best-possible, most-secure devices for mobile work settings. To date, about 11 percent of our new trainees have opted for the Fairphone 4.

Conserving resources by refurbishing smartphones
In 2021, we added the cell-phone purchase, “ReUse MyMobile” and “Insure MyMobile” services to our portfolio of sustainable products and services. Under the cell-phone purchase scheme (only available in German), we buy used smartphones – including smartphones from both Deutsche Telekom and other providers. We provide guaranteed, certified erasure of all data. We refurbish, and make available for reuse, nearly all of the devices we purchase. And in our refurbishments, we try to avoid component replacements wherever possible. Instead of replacing defective components, we refurbish them with innovative procedures that minimize resources consumption. For example, we restore displays with a new, innovative deep-polish method that produces long-lasting results. Devices that simply cannot be reused are properly recycled. Prior to being sold, each refurbished 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. 

We offer refurbished devices, along with a 24-month guarantee, for sale via our “ReUse MyMobile” (only available in German) service – and thereby extend the devices’ life cycles and help save resources. Our newly designed packaging, including the environmentally friendly labels and overprinting we use, is biodegradable. The inner packaging for our products is sealed and secure, with filmless, transparent viewing windows that make it easy for customers to inspect the products in our stores.

Our new “Insure MyMobile” cell phone insurance, including Apple Care service, is available both for new devices and for refurbished smartphones. This also helps to extend devices’ average lifetimes, since insured devices are repaired free of charge if they are damaged. By purchasing one of our “ReUse MyMobile” smartphones, 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 (NatCos)
Our national companies also offer ecologically sustainable products and services. For example, Magenta Telekom in Austria now offers refurbished cell phones under the #GreenMagenta “Magenta Refurbished” label, which it added to its portfolio in 2021. At our national companies in Romania and the Czech Republic, customers can rent routers and modems, and rental devices are made available for reuse when they are replaced. In Hungary, our customers may choose the “ExtraNet GreenGB” data-expansion option. With its own solar power plants, Magyar Telekom generates the green power needed for data transmission under the “ExtraNet GreenGB” option – enough green power to transport about 450 000 gigabytes of data per year. 

At nearly all of our European national companies, we offer rental plans for various fixed-network devices, and devices exchanged within such programs can often be reused or refurbished for further use. On a European-wide basis, this has led to a return rate of over 55 percent. Also, at all of our national companies, customers have the option of returning their used smartphones to us, or of selling them to us for a fair price. The devices that we accept through such channels are professionally refurbished for resale, or are recycled. Such services have led to return rates of up to 24 percent, depending on the country involved.

Offers for business customers
We also want to help our business customers meet their sustainability goals and implement relevant regulatory requirements – such as those applying under the EU Green Deal. To date, more than twelve customer solutions of T-Systems International and Telekom Deutschland have already earned our #GreenMagenta label, and more solutions continue to be added to this group. Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) is a good example. A-CDM, a resource for airport workforces, facilitates information-sharing and collaboration, and thereby helps make airport operations more efficient. This, in turn, enhances punctuality, and, by improving predictability, it also reduces fuel consumption and the related emissions. Telekom Deutschland’s cell-phone purchase portal (Handyankaufsportal) for business customers is another successful service that has earned the #GreenMagenta label. Also, in cooperation with the “everphone” mobile device service, we offer our business customers “Device as a Service” plans. Under these plans, we assume complete responsibility for management of devices – including rentals, pickup of devices from employees, replacements, expert repairs of defective devices, and certified recycling and waste management. 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 various videoconferencing and web-conferencing systems.

With our Internet of Things img (IoT) solutions, we are now helping many of our business customers to make their processes more resource-efficient and energy-efficient and to establish innovative, sustainable business models. Companies seeking to use IoT solutions often find themselves having to deal with lengthy proof-of-concept trials, and costly test cycles, just to find out whether their products offer the desired performance and battery life. There is no guarantee of success, given that there are many sources of error and a multitude of design and provisioning aspects that can influence the outcomes. Our “IoT Solution Optimizer” service facilitates modeling of many different types of projects, for many different types of scenarios and components. It produces precise results within minutes. With this service, companies can significantly reduce their development costs, while still ensuring that their newly fielded IoT solutions will pay off in the long term.

Measuring progress with key performance indicators
We use various key 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-network communications segments. We also specify the ratio of more sustainable products sold and leased to total devices sold and leased. In 2022, more than 39 percent of the fixed-network devices sold or rented throughout the Group were eco-friendly.

Eco-friendly products of the Deutsche Telekom Group

In addition, we record KPIs on the collection of devices for recycling purposes and on products with sustainable packaging.

Reporting against standards

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

  • GRI 301-1 (Materials)
  • GRI 301-2 (Materials)

Online billing for mobile and fixed-line customers in Germany KPI

About 237 million online bills were sent out in 2022. This is the equivalent of around 85 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


German Sustainability Code

  • Criterion 2 (Materiality img)
  • Criterion 10 (Innovation and Product Management)

Global Compact

  • Principle 7 (Support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges)
  • Principle 8 (Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility)

European Federation of Financial Analysts Societies (EFFAS)

  • V04-13 (Percentage of products or services for increasing eco-efficiency of own products or services)
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