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

Circular economy

There are a lot of areas where digitization can help conserve valuable resources and protect the environment. One example is dematerialization. Companies that store their data in the cloud no longer need a hard drive. Doing away with your hard drive conserves natural resources, reduces electricity consumption and generates less waste.

The "sharing instead of owning" approach also contributes significantly to resource conservation. Numerous sharing economy offers such as car-sharing become practical solutions thanks to digitization. Our goal is to use our expertise to support and encourage effective sharing concepts.

In areas where services cannot entirely replace products, the product life cycle plays a key role in the efficient use of resources. Our rental model for routers and media receivers, for example, can extend the life cycle of these devices. Returned devices can then be reused by new customers after proper servicing. Efficient use of materials is important even during the product development stage and less waste is generated as a result.

Conserving resources is part of the solution. We also act responsibly in how we work with raw materials. It is important to reintroduce raw materials obtained from outdated products to the production process, which is why customers can return their outdated devices to us for proper recycling.

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.


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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.

Sale and reuse of electrical and electronic equipment

Since 2012, T-Systems Iberia has been handing over redundant electrical and electronic equipment to Kapema, a company committed to reselling this type of equipment. Employees at T-Systems are given top priority for the resale of any equipment. This scheme has greatly reduced the amount of electrical and electronic waste generated. During 2016, more than 500 computers were handed over to Kapema and this reduced overall waste by a total of 2,776 kg.

T-Systems Iberia also continued selling redundant electrical and electronic equipment from its data centers to a supplier who is required to use any suitable spares for maintaining the company’s equipment. This supplier is turning redundant equipment into spares for carrying out repairs and the company is reducing the amount of waste generated at data centers. Cost savings are therefore being achieved in the fields of spare parts, storage, and waste management. In 2016, a reduction of 3,200 kg of electrical and electronic waste was achieved by means of this reutilization (by the end of the third quarter).

4,000 metric tons of copper cable recycled

In 2016, Deutsche Telekom removed more than 4,000 metric tons of copper cable from duct systems in Germany alone. The cable is processed in accordance with environmental standards at certified waste disposal facilities and up to 90 percent of the material was recycled.

Copper cable recovered since 2010

Waste Management at T-Mobile Netherlands

T-Mobile Netherlands collects glass, paper, chemical waste, cardboard and electronic waste separately. Digitalization and more aware product development has enabled us to decrease our paper and residual waste by 25 % over the past three years.