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  • Act responsibly. Enable sustainability.
  • 2016 Corporate Responsibility Report
2016 Corporate Responsibility Report

Circular economy

Here is a selection of material topics from the 2016 CR-Report. More information can be found in the chapters Customers & productsSuppliers and Climate & environment.

Used cell-phone collection

Too many used cell phones and smartphones are stuck in drawers or disposed of illegally with the household waste. Germany's recycling and reuse rate for small electronic appliances is much too low. Used cell phones, smartphones and tablets should be refurbished and reused or properly recycled to help us conserve valuable resources. We have been offering different ways for people to hand in their devices since 2003.

Customers have been able to return their used, high-end cell phones and smartphones to Telekom Shops under a buyback program since 2013. They receive store credit from the Telekom Shop reflecting their old device's current value, which they can use to purchase a new device, or they can choose to have the amount booked to their customer account. In collaboration with Teqcycle Solutions and Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), we also operate the Handysammelcenter (cell-phone collection center) online portal, which was redone in 2016. The new website provides an overview of our partners and collection campaigns. Companies can use the portal to properly and safely dispose of their used cell phones and smartphones free of charge and receive a certificate as confirmation. Authorities, associations and other organizations can use the portal to launch their own collection campaigns.

In 2016, we collected 273 079 used cell phones and smartphones throughout Germany and either reused them or had them properly recycled. The entire cell-phone collection process is DEKRA certified and complies with strict data privacy standards. The joint cell-phone collection system run by Telekom Deutschland and DUH entered its thirteenth year in 2016. More than 2 million used cell phones have been collected so far.

Support for different collection campaigns
As in previous years, we supported the Die Handyaktion campaign conducted by different church-affiliated groups in the state of Baden-Württemberg in 2016. The campiagn is going to be expanded in collaboration with the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Environment.

The "Responsibility and sustainability. Join in!" collection campaign in Saarland, which we have been supporting since 2014, was extended due to ongoing interest. The Netzwerk Entwicklungspolitik im Saarland e.V. (NES) network took over the project's office activities in 2016. We are still a cooperation partner to the campaign, which focuses on projects such as providing special course material on the topics of cell-phone collection and resource efficiency. The campaign was acknowledged as a Werkstatt N project by the federal government's Council for Sustainable Development in 2016. That makes it one of Germany's 100 most innovative sustainable projects.

Woche der Umwelt expert forum
In 2016 Telekom Deutschland organized an expert forum in collaboration with DUH at the Woche der Umwelt (Environment Week) trade fair held on the park grounds at Bellevue Palace, the official residence of the president of Germany. Guests had the opportunity to ask questions about cell-phone collection and recycling processes. Woche der Umwelt is a trade fair for innovative environmental protection technologies and products. Around 13,000 people attended the event at the invitation of the German President and the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU).

Cornelia Szyszkowitz

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Cornelia Szyszkowitz

Saving resources and protecting the environment

With our health, safety and environmental management system (HSE img) we have made a commitment to continually improving our performance in these areas. The system is based on international standards OHSAS 18001 img on occupational health and safety and ISO 14001 on environmental management.

We support cell-phone collection campaigns in order to recover valuable resources. For this purpose, we have introduced the Used Cell-Phone Collection ESG KPI img, which compares the number of cell phones in circulation to the number of collected devices.

We regularly collect Group-wide data on the amount of waste we produce. Our International Waste Management Framework guarantees standardized guidelines for all Deutsche Telekom companies. Our national companies are required to use this framework as a basis for identifying their own measurable targets and then monitor target achievement. This approach makes it possible to flexibly address the specific requirements of each country and company without working with quantitative objectives.

Resource efficiency is also a priority at the workplace. We use recycled paper and energy-efficient multifunctional printers and encourage employees to use green office supplies. In order to reduce the amount of paper used throughout the Group, we ask our employees to have their salary statements sent to their "De-Mail" account instead of having a printout sent by post. Around 20 percent of employees have already canceled delivery by post.

Waste reduction and recycling

Our national companies are responsible for implementing our waste management strategy according to standardized Group-wide principles. We have not set a Group target for waste reduction. Instead, our national companies are developing their own waste strategies or updating their current strategies on the basis of our International Waste Management Framework, which we adopted in 2013. They are also setting their own targets, the reduction of hazardous waste such as lead batteries having top priority.

Requirements for Group-wide copper cable recycling
Our activities are currently focused on disposing of the copper wires that have been the main component of telephone lines for decades. These are being replaced over the course of our fiber-optic roll-out. In January 2016, we introduced a Group-wide, mandatory policy requiring copper cable recycling. This policy provides a guideline to our national companies when it comes to recycling and disposal of used cables.

Testing on recovery of tantalum from electronic scrap

With our switch-over to IP img technology and dismantling analog infrastructure, we will be removing tons of old electronics over the next few years. We intend to recover precious metals such as gold and tantalum from the scrap.

The tantalum used to manufacture condensers is extracted from coltan, and is considered a conflict resource. For this reason we have been conducting a project together with the bifa Umweltinstitut environment institute since 2013. The goal is to develop the perfect method for disassembling and recycling tantalum condensers. Different manual and automated methods for disassembling tantalum condensers were tested. Based on the results, we opted for an automated method in 2016. The circuit boards will be disassembled using thermal treatment. The next step will be to introduce the method in live operation.

Together against conflict resources

Deutsche Telekom has supported the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI) ever since it was founded in 2008. CFSI is the largest business initiative for responsible raw materials sourcing. Its objective is to identify conflict resources and prevent their extraction and sale.

CFSI is based on a working group that was founded in 2008 by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative img and the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition industry associations (Extractives Working Group) to address sustainable raw materials extraction. Since then, the number of metal processing companies and smelters participating in CFSI has continued to grow. 241 of these companies have been audited in compliance with the standard audit protocol (as of January 2017).