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2022 Corporate Responsibility Report

Our approach to sustainable products and services

Our contribution to the SDGs

Our core business consists of operating and expanding our networks. Our networks provide the foundation for digital participation. Since 2021, 100 percent of the electricity for our networks has been obtained from renewable resources. Also, by providing innovative, network-based, and digital solutions, we support our customers in reducing their own carbon emissions and in 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  – a product-life-cycle approach that extends to production, sustainable packaging, product use, product refurbishing and product recycling. This requires thoroughgoing measures along all stages of the value chain. Consequently, we begin with procurement, and we strive to ensure that our suppliers comply with our ecological, social, and ethical sustainability requirements.

Our labels
We have developed our #GreenMagenta and #GoodMagenta labels as tools for informing our customers about sustainability benefits. Deutsche Telekom products, services and initiatives that carry these labels have been reviewed in keeping with clearly defined requirements. In addition, we permit products to carry recognized third-party environmental labels when this is appropriate. For example, several of our router and mesh devices have been certified with the TÜV Rheinland “Green Product” label (TÜV Rheinland is a leading international provider of technical services, including certification). Furthermore, a significant share of the fixed-network telephones offered by Telekom Deutschland are certified with the “Blue Angel” label. The strict requirements of these labels help us see how we can further improve our products. 

In 2021, working 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 phones 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. Since mid-2022, and on a European-wide basis, all of our own new products are being sold in sustainable packaging for which we have developed suitable sustainability criteria. Nearly 90 percent of the new packaging for our suppliers’ smartphones conforms to these criteria as well. Wherever possible, we reduce package sizes with the help of special packaging machines. Increasingly, we are relying, e.g., on PaperFoam, a bio-based and biodegradable alternative to conventional packaging materials, as a means of protecting our products within the packaging.

For example, our Speedport Smart 4 router is sold in a plastic-free package. 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 begin right with the earliest stages of production. In our Speedport Smart 4 router, for example, we limit the use of harmful substances (such as in electronic components) beyond the degree required by law. Furthermore, a total of 90% of the housing of the Speedport Smart 4 consists of recycled plastic.

Another example: In October 2022, in North Macedonia and Hungary, we introduced a Magenta TV Box (set top box) with a housing made of bio-based polycarbonate. Bio-based polycarbonate is an environmentally friendly plastic that is manufactured solely from renewable raw materials. In the same year, we began making our SIM cards out of recycled plastic. That change alone is saving some 63 metric tons of CO2 per year. The SIM cards carry the #GreenMagenta label. At the same time, we are aiming to do away entirely with plastic SIM cards and use only eSIMs. Via various measures, including customer advising, we are gradually increasing use of eSIMs. This is saving additional resources.

At the end of products life cycles, we help to ensure that they are reused or properly recycled. In fact, we have been collecting and buying back used mobile devices for this purpose since 2003. Since then, in Germany, we have helped to conserve resources by recycling, or providing for reuse, more than 3.4 million used devices. In November 2022, we reorganized our smartphone-collection system in our shops. Now, when customers return an old smartphone that has little residual value, and we can’t make them a purchase offer, they still receive a small consideration for their trouble. This provides an incentive for phone returns. Our national companies also accept used devices. This is the case in North Macedonia, for example, where our national company has earned the #GreenMagenta label for its collection process for used phones.

In Germany, persons interested in giving used smartphones a second life can sell them to us, via our “Handyankauf”  (phone buybacks) portal, for refurbishment. We also buy back smartphones from the German B2B segment. Also, Deutsche Telekom returns its used smartphones (i.e., used for business purposes) for refurbishment/recycling. 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. Our “Handyankauf” and “ReUse MyMobile” programs have both been awarded the #GreenMagenta label. Other national companies also sell refurbished smartphones. This is the case in Austria, for example. Our phone-resale program there has also earned 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 electronic waste, and thus avoid carbon emissions. Last year, we provided around one million refurbished devices to our customers in Germany.

An affordable 5G smartphone: the T Phone
As of the year under review, we are offering our new T Phone and T Phone Pro 5G smartphones in a total of nine European countries, with a view to enabling the largest possible numbers of people to profit from our 5G-network expansion. Since the end of January 2023, the phones have also been available in Germany. These phones are designed to be more affordable, so that more people can participate in the digital world. As an added benefit, the T Phone comes in sustainable packaging.

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.

Subsidized rate plans
Telekom Deutschland offers special rate plans to promote digital participation among different groups in society. Since 2000, our “Telekom@School” project has been providing general and vocational schools nationwide with internet accesses for teaching purposes. Participating schools receive the accesses either free of charge or at a considerably reduced price, depending on the access bandwidth img. What’s more, German Red Cross employees and firefighters can get special rates for Telekom rate plans thanks to corresponding framework agreements.

Helping people work from home
We offer our business customers secure solutions that enable their employees to work from home efficiently. Our home office configurator helps small and medium-sized businesses, for example, to develop customized solutions for staff working from home. Likewise, our Digital Schutzpaket Business (digital business protection package) keeps sensitive customer data safe.

In addition, we offer videoconferencing solutions of various established providers, including some solutions with added, proprietary functions of our own that support energy-efficient work from home offices.

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

  • We use the “Sustainable Revenue Share” ESG KPI img to 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. 
  • With our “Take Back Mobile Devices” and "Take Back CPE" ESG KPIs, we measure the impacts of our circular economy concepts.
  • We use the “Enablement Factor” ESG KPI to calculate the positive carbon effects generated as our products are used by customers.
  • With the “Sustainable 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

Reporting against standards

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

  • GRI 301 3-3 (Management of material topic)