Waste prevention, recycling & resource conservation

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Waste management and recycling KPI

Our contribution to the SDGs

We are careful with resources – and likewise with waste. Waste management throughout our entire Group is organized consistently in line with the International Waste Management Framework. On the basis of this framework, our national companies define their own measurable targets and monitor progress toward those targets. This enables them to flexibly comply with general conditions specific to each country and company.

The impact assessment in our materiality analysis identified a negative impact resulting from the generation of waste at office locations, network build-out work and our data center operations. We strive to avoid creating waste wherever possible and to recycle as much as possible of the waste we do produce. We are pursuing a range of approaches in this context to ensure that we manage electronic waste in a controlled manner and avoid it ending up in landfills, where waste that is not properly disposed of poses a risk of contamination to soil and watercourses. For example, the waste pyramid provides us with a methodological framework for avoiding creating waste in the first place and for carefully and properly handling any waste that really cannot be avoided. The pyramid is broken down into hierarchical levels that must be followed: prevention, reuse, recycling, utilization (to generate electricity, for example), and disposal. Our focus in this context is not limited to the waste generated by Deutsche Telekom directly; we also take account of the devices that are required to use our telecommunications services and that are sold to our customers through our channels. Further information on the circular economy can be found here. In 2021, our European national companies defined the following common aim: to ensure, by 2024, that no electronic waste they produce, and no returned devices, such as smartphones, routers, and laptops, wind up in landfills – and that such waste and devices are properly disposed of or recycled as they would be in Germany. We achieved this goal by the end of 2022 and are planning to roll out implementation to T-Mobile US and T-Systems in future. Additionally, we are constantly working to refine our Group-wide set of performance indicators for waste management, and we now also collect data on recycling of technology and hazardous waste as well as monitoring quantities of waste produced.

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) 

  • GRI 306 3-3 (Management of material topic)
  • GRI 306-1 (Waste)
  • GRI 306-2 (Waste)
  • GRI 306-4 (Waste)
  • GRI 306-5 (Waste)

Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)

  • Code TC-TL-440a.1 (Product End-of-life Management)



Waste production (including e-waste) KPI

As part of our waste management program, we transparently track our waste production. In 2021, we added a performance indicator for technology waste to our set of KPIs. As a result, we are now able, for the first time, to differentiate between electronic waste (e-waste), cable waste, and other technology waste. We have not defined Group-wide targets for the reduction of hazardous and non-hazardous waste. The national companies are guided by our International Waste Management Framework adopted in 2013; they use it as a basis for developing or revising their own waste management strategies. They are also setting their own targets, giving top priority to reducing hazardous waste such as lead batteries.

Group-wide waste increased by 5 percent compared with 2022. A major factor in this rise is the 5G mobile network build-out work currently underway, the associated dismantlement of older 3G img technology, and the fiber-optic img build-out in the fixed network. We provide detailed information on the figures for each individual company in our interactive benchmarking tool.

Waste generation Deutsche Telekom Group

Data audited img by Deloitte. Data is partly based on estimates, assumptions and projections. Data is partly provided by external service providers.



Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) 

  • GRI 306 3-3 (Management of material topic)
  • GRI 306-1 (Waste)
  • GRI 306-3 (Waste)

Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)

  • Code TC-TL-440a.1 (Product End-of-life Management)

Principle Adverse Impacts (PAIs)

  • Waste

Indicators for telecommunications providers from the GSM Association (GSMA)

  • GSMA-ENV-05 (Waste Generated)

Paper-free and low-paper work

Running a large company like Deutsche Telekom involves high paper consumption. For several years now, we have gradually been reducing our paper consumption. With our Paperless Office project, we aim to completely eliminate paper use by 2025.

Print on demand has many advantages. For example, quick reference guides can be printed as needed depending on orders and don’t need to be preprinted, transported, and stored. Changes to information sheets for our customers can be made on short notice, eliminating large quantities of outdated documents that need to be destroyed. In 2021, we expanded this project, and print on demand is now available for printing quick reference guides for all the rate plans we offer in Germany (MagentaZuhause, MagentaTV, business-customer and hybrid plans). We also reviewed whether there are other materials suitable for print on demand – such as those containing brochures and SIM cards. The process is not yet suitable for all of the materials we work with. This applies to the SIM cards for our hybrid plans, for example. Since March 2021, print-on-demand instructions have been marked with our #GreenMagenta label.

In 2023, we implemented various measures in Germany with a view to minimizing our consumption still further. We have already cut paper consumption by 85 percent in various paperless stores throughout Europe, not least by opting not to offer printed brochures and flyers in our shops.


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) 

  • GRI 306-2 (Waste) 

Germany segment: contribution to waste prevention, recycling, and resource conservation

Recovered copper cables
Copper cables were the main component of telephone lines for decades. They are now being replaced as part of the fiber-optic img build-out. In 2023, the Germany segment img removed over 1 579 metric tons of copper cable from cable ducts. Certified waste disposal facilities process the cables in accordance with environmental standards, and up to 90 percent of the material is then recycled.

Reducing paper use through digitalization
The German segment intends to save on resources by continuing to reduce the volume of paper documents, such as bills, flyers, and other types of documents used for customer communication, and is working to digitalize these documents wherever possible.

In 2023, for instance, Telekom Deutschland conducted campaigns in the business and consumer segments to motivate customers to switch from paper to online billing. Through customers transitioning to online billing, the segment eliminated some five million paper bills in the year under review (as of August 2023).

In the business customer segment of Telekom Deutschland, we increased our online-bill percentages for fixed-network services to 73.69 percent and mobile services to 65.28 percent. In the consumer segment of Telekom Deutschland, we were able to maintain our high online-bill percentages: 88.82 percent for fixed-network services and 95.24 percent for mobile services.

The Germany segment is also digitalizing the process of signing our contracts by hand by converting to digital signatures. With the help of DocuSign, the segment offers the option of signing documents digitally and in compliance with the law. 72 percent of Telekom Deutschland’s business partners were already using digital signatures in 2023.

The Germany segment also made a contribution to digitalizing mandatory contractual communications, such as bills and order confirmations, that are otherwise sent in the mail. The volume of dispatched letters was reduced by 14.6 percent compared with the previous year, saving more than 180 metric tons of paper in 2023.


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

    GRI 306-2 (Waste)


Sustainable product packaging KPI

As of mid-2022, all Deutsche-Telekom-branded products launched on the German and European markets have been packaged sustainably. For this conversion, we have developed appropriate sustainability criteria, and enshrined them in a packaging guideline. Wherever possible, we use recyclable and biodegradable materials, recycled paper, and non-toxic labels and printing (e.g., using soy ink). In addition, we use absolutely no single-use plastic in our packaging. This packaging guideline is part of our Standard Design Specifications, which apply throughout the Group (with the exception of T-Mobile US), and which also include sustainability requirements for product components and design. All product manufacturers must meet these criteria when developing Deutsche Telekom devices.

For our product packaging we use materials such as PaperFoam, a biobased and biodegradable alternative to conventional packaging materials. PaperFoam is non-toxic, compostable, and it reduces the carbon footprint by up to 85 percent compared with other materials. As of 2021, the packaging of the Speedport Smart 4 router sold in Germany is made of this material, for instance. In addition, 95 percent of the router’s housing consists of recycled plastic.

As of mid-2022, all Deutsche-Telekom-branded products launched on the market have been packaged sustainably throughout Europe, in keeping with our Sustainability Packaging Guideline. Packaging for smartphones that we purchase from our suppliers must also meet these criteria. In the 2023 reporting year, we were not aware of any violations of the packaging guidelines by suppliers in this context. We monitor compliance with the criteria by means of regular factory audits img.

Since 2021, we have reported Group-wide figures on sustainably packaged devices, differentiating between our own sustainably packaged fixed-network devices and sustainably packaged mobile devices (e.g., mobile routers, smartphones, and tablets). The year-on-year increase is mainly due to the consistent application of the packaging directive for all of our newly launched products and an improvement in the survey methodology.

We also want to make logistics more sustainable. To that end, we plan to optimize parcel packaging, for example. In particular, we plan to discontinue use of plastic in such packaging. Since 2021, we have been saving around 4 700 kilograms of plastic per year by dispensing with wrapping plastic in technical logistics in Germany alone. We are also working to optimize paper and cardboard consumption in our shipping logistics. In 2020, we began using a cardboard shredder. This has enabled us to reduce our use of paper as fill material by 50 metric tons of paper per year. To make even greater use of optimization potential in this area, we are in discussion with the national companies outside of Germany and are working with them to develop relevant innovative concepts.


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) 

  • GRI 301-1 (Materials)
  • GRI 301-2 (Materials)
  • GRI 301-3 (Materials)
  • GRI 306-2 (Waste)

More sustainable Deutsche Telekom buildings

We want to make our buildings in Germany as sustainable as possible. To that end, we are implementing various measures to reduce their CO2 emissions, improve their energy balance, optimize waste separation, and facilitate longer use of their furniture.

Reducing vacancy is one of the most effective ways to increase sustainability, since lower vacancy levels can lead to significant CO2-emissions and energy savings. We are currently examining our future office-space requirements, and developing plans that will enable us to use our office space in the best possible way. In the process, we are testing new, more-flexible space/office concepts. The overall aim is to optimize space utilization in our buildings. Also, we are reducing our unused office space – for example, by subletting it. Such efforts are enabling us to prevent vacancies and save energy.

Over 106 592 square meters of building space in Germany were certified to LEED or BREEAM standards in 2023. Additionally, approximately one million square meters of office space meet the criteria of a sustainable building standard, despite not being certified.

Energy efficiency
In order to minimize the energy requirements of our buildings in Germany, we are carrying out a range of measures, including the following:

  • To identify anomalies in energy consumption, we use specific indicators such as “kilowatt hours per square meter” to compare similar facilities. In addition, we analyze the course of energy consumption (load profile) of individual buildings. On the basis of the findings from such analysis, we initiate measures to prevent peak loads and optimize energy use, with the aim of reducing total energy requirements.
  • We use communication measures to raise awareness of energy consumption among our employees and motivate them to be energy-conscious in the workplace.
  • We pay attention to energy efficiency during construction and renovation work on a building’s exterior.

The Deutsche Telekom subsidiary Power & Air Solutions (PASM img) procures energy for the Deutsche Telekom Group companies in Germany. Its energy management system is certified as per the ISO 50001 img international standard. In addition, our office buildings undergo an energy audit img pursuant to DIN standard 16247 every four years.

Heating and hot water
We regularly assess the need for repairs at our properties in Germany and conduct cost-effectiveness analyses to further reduce our energy consumption for heating and hot water. Measures include:

  • Energy optimization of heating systems (e.g., by replacing old burner technologies)
  • Updating heat generators and related hydraulic components (such as pumps and valves)
  • Using waste heat (e.g., by using heat recovery systems)
  • Using combined heat and power (e.g., from cogeneration plants or district heating)
  • Reducing supply losses when heating water (e.g., by switching to local hot water supply)

Building services account for the biggest share of electricity consumption in office buildings (e.g., pumps, ventilation and cooling systems, building automation systems, elevators, and lighting). To reduce electricity consumption, we are focusing on the following measures in Germany:

  • Using LED lighting and motion sensors
  • Turning off light sources (advertising pylons) at night
  • Controlling the room temperature of our network infrastructure more accurately
  • Using efficient building services (e.g., high-efficiency pumps, frequency-controlled motors for ventilation systems)
  • Optimizing pre-programmed usage profiles (such as through absence profiles)
  • Using efficient building automation systems
  • We are also adding additional charging stations for electric cars to our parking areas in order to promote electromobility.

Internet of Things img (IoT) and innovations
In Germany, we are optimizing our facility management with the help of sensor technologies. This includes the following measures:

  • Using sensor technology to actively control indoor temperatures in buildings in real time
  • Using predictive maintenance in elevator maintenance and repair
  • Using predictive weather-dependent building technology controls
  • Using thermal and fluidic building simulation to increase the efficiency of buildings and their building services
  • Using sensors to collect building usage data. We utilize this data to optimize the energy consumption and cost-effectiveness of our shops across the board.

Sustainable Deutsche Telekom buildings outside Germany
Internationally, we are also implementing measures to reduce energy consumption, such as optimizing the energy efficiency of major sites and switching off advertising pylons at night. We carried out simulation tests in 2022 to identify energy-saving potential in technical buildings. The results showed that technical equipment can be designed with lower capacity in these cases, making it possible to improve power distribution readings. As a result, adjustments have been made to the internal planning process and the reading process has been digitalized. We also carry out campaigns to raise awareness among our employees of the need to save energy.

In Greece, three buildings of the OTE Group received LEED Gold (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification: the Kerameikos office building; the COSMOTE TV Services building; and the Group’s Solonos office building in central Athens, which was renovated in 2020. All three were certified to the Gold level under the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) international LEED certification scheme for green and sustainable buildings. The Agia Paraskevi building in Greece was also certified under the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM).

Over 192 219 square meters of our building space outside Germany were certified to LEED or a comparable standard in 2023.


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

    GRI 302 3-3 (Management of material topics)


Water consumption KPI

As a service provider, almost all of the water we use is consumed within the scope of our office activities. Similarly, water consumption only plays a minor role along our supply chain. For that reason, water is not a main focal area in our CR management activities. Nevertheless, our environmental guideline does call for reducing our water consumption. We measure our annual consumption by means of our water consumption indicator.

In the year under review, there was a slight, 20 percent decrease in Group-wide water consumption.

We provide detailed information on the figures for each individual company in our interactive benchmarking tool.


Protecting biodiversity

Our contribution to the SDGs

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity describes biodiversity as the diversity of all living organisms, habitats and ecosystems on land, in freshwater, in the oceans and in the air. This interpretation allows for many topics to be categorized under the heading of biodiversity. Topics such as climate change mitigation, waste, and water that we address at Deutsche Telekom have an indirect influence on biodiversity. In order to review our activities specifically in terms of their direct influence and impact on this topic, we conducted an analysis in 2023 of our impact on biodiversity and our dependence on ecosystem services all the way along our value chain. This analysis was based on the parameters of the ENCORE (Exploring Natural Capital Opportunities, Risks, and Exposure) tool, which is designed to aid understanding and evaluation of natural capital risks. Like our materiality analysis, it confirmed that biodiversity is not directly relevant to us as a topic. Indeed, we did not identify any significant direct impact in our own business operations. Similarly, we did not find ourselves to be heavily reliant on water resources (groundwater, surface water, water quality) in our own operations, and there were no significant issues around our operations in water-stressed regions.

However, our business activities can also impact biodiversity in other areas of our value chain – particularly with our suppliers at the start of the chain. This is why our suppliers must also comply with our environmental principles. We verify this regularly during our on-site social audits img. And we have formulated it as a requirement in our Supplier Code of Conduct.

We also drew up a statement in 2022 specifying how we contribute to conserving biodiversity and protecting forests from clearance activities. This statement sets out the measures we are implementing to this end along our value chain. This includes our approach to sustainable purchasing, our climate strategy, and our practice of taking aspects of biodiversity into account in our network build-out work.

Moreover, we have taken on the role of nature sponsor during the period under review and are working as part of the Magenta Blossom project to help conserve and promote biodiversity. Flowering islands, as they are known, have been set up on an area over 40 hectares in size to provide a home for bees, insects, and butterflies. Some 22 million wildflowers and herbs have grown in amongst 3.25 million sugar beets. This co-existence of agriculture and new habitats promotes biodiversity and improves soil quality.

We also cooperate with environmental and nature conservation organizations. Proceeds from our various cell-phone collection campaigns in Germany have so far benefited the following organizations, among others: Pro Wildlife e.V.; Frankfurt Zoological Society (projects for the protection of gorillas); and Hellabrunn Zoo, Munich (species protection projects).

The safety of the electromagnetic fields img used in mobile communications is a publicly discussed issue. In 2023, the possible impacts of such fields on animals and plants continued to be debated. The Federal Office for Radiation Protection has determined that there is no scientific evidence that high-frequency fields below the legal limits endanger plant and animal life.

In the fight against climate change, we support international reforestation projects. Trees store CO2, produce oxygen, regulate the water balance, provide a habitat for countless species, and thereby promote biodiversity. Many of our employees are actively involved in the Trillion Tree Campaign initiative, through efforts such as organizing tree-sponsorship donations or tree-planting campaigns. Thanks to this, the number of planted seedlings shown in our interactive tree counter keeps growing. We have now grouped the various ongoing projects throughout the Group in our Magenta Forest campaign. One and all are welcome to participate in this campaign – by having trees planted, via an online site; making donations; or joining with others to plant trees in their local areas and have them registered, along with their geodata. In addition, we have asked our employees to use the Ecosia search engine for their internet searches wherever possible. Use of Ecosia contributes to global afforestation, and to our Magenta Forest: with the income it generates from search engine advertising, Ecosia plants trees in over 30 countries, in cooperation with local organizations. In 2023, our Ecosia searches financed over 56 839 tree plantings. Our Green Pioneers ambassador program and our HR team took the initiative to set up the Magenta Pocket Forests, which sees our employees plant mini forests using the special Miyawaki method. Three of these small forests were planted at different locations in Germany during the year under review, comprising 1 000 trees in total, with more to follow. Together with the trees we planted ourselves as well as donated trees, our Magenta Forest grew by over 15 115 trees in the year under review.

Information and communications technology (ICT img) solutions form part of our portfolio of products and solutions that we use to drive pollution reduction efforts. For example, ICT solutions help to enhance transparency concerning water consumption and water management systems and to track animals as part of endangered species conservation efforts.


Land use KPI

The properties used by the Deutsche Telekom Group cover most of our demands for technology, office, common, call center, shop and storage space as well as providing space for other needs. Total take-up decreased slightly year-on-year, with a total of 11 226 389 square meters in use.




benchmarking tool

Through our interactive benchmarking tool, important facts and figures of our national companies can be analysed and compared.

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  • Highlights

    Day after day, we work to

    develop climate-neutral business

    practices and establish circularity

    Day after day, we work to develop climate-neutral business practices and establish circularity

    In ramping up our climate targets, we have fulfilled the stringent criteria of the Science Based Targets initiative and become the first DAX-40 company to have a recognized, science-based net-zero climate target.

    For the first time, we are outlining our route to net zero here in the form of a climate transition plan. We are already implementing the key measures set out in the plan. We achieved significant improvements in our KPI “Energy Intensity” by introducing efficiency measures in our networks and data centers.

    To reduce Scope 3 emissions, we set up a task force that works closely with suppliers to explore new approaches to recording CO₂ emissions. Other sustainability criteria are applied to procurement decisions to create an economic incentive. One of the main criteria is the requirement to observe the principle of circularity for network technology and devices from the design and procurement stage onwards. When it comes to devices in particular, circularity can only be achieved in cooperation with customers. We addressed these stakeholders directly in 2023 by means of programs to purchase used devices, special initiatives, and our infotainment magazine “Heute retten wir die Welt! Ein bisschen.” (English: “Today we save the world! A little bit.”) on MagentaTV.

    We support our customers in their efforts to adopt a more climate-friendly lifestyle. Our products and solutions generated positive CO₂ effects for our customers amounting to 16.9 million metric tons in Germany alone in 2023.

    Further examples of our progress in 2023, from the perspective of the Group and that of our segments, can be found in the subchapters.

    Highlight numbers

    Highlight numbers

    Progress of selected KPIs in  2023

    • 2022 2023 Progress

    • CO₂e emissions Scope 1&2 for the DT Group (in kt of CO₂e) 233 217 -7%

    • CO₂e emissions Scope 1–3 for the DT Group (in kt of CO₂e) 11 811 10 476 -11%

    • CPE Take-Back and Mobile Device Take Back for the DT Group (without TMUS) 4.5m. 4.8m. +7%

    • Enablement factor 3.76 4.78 +27%

    • Energy intensity 91 70 -23%

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