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  • 2016 Corporate Responsibility Report
2016 Corporate Responsibility Report

Resource scarcity and raw materials sourcing

Production of electronic devices like smartphones is harmful to the environment and requires large amounts of water and energy. Because the production facilities of suppliers and manufacturers are often located in regions where water is scarce or the population does not have sufficient access to electricity, the availability of resources plays a more significant role there than it does in countries like Germany.

Moreover, valuable raw materials like metals are used in producing smartphones and other ICT img products. Some metals, including tantalum, gold, tin and tungsten, are extracted from ores, some of which are extracted in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo under conditions that are inhumane and/or associated with civil war. The parties involved in conflict in the region use the profit for purposes such as financing civil wars. Deutsche Telekom does not produce any ICT products itself. We purchase these products from international manufacturers and sell them at our stores, offer them in the context of service provision or use them in our network infrastructure. We require our suppliers to refrain from using any of these conflict resources. We also support industry initiatives like the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative, which work toward a more sustainable supply chain.

Supporting responsible resource extraction

Deutsche Telekom requires its suppliers to protect the environment and use resources responsibly. These requirements are documented in our Social Charter img. They are also included in detail in our CSR clause, which has been a mandatory component of our General Terms and Conditions for Purchasing since 2013. We require our suppliers to provide information on their activities as part of a self-assessment and conduct supplier audits to emphasize the importance of these requirements. In the scope of the audits, we check whether our suppliers use an environmental management system and how they manage their energy and water consumption, as well as other factors. We also explicitly ask them about their waste management system.

Handling critical raw materials
We collaborate with suppliers and industry initiatives to effect responsible raw materials sourcing. One of our requirements on suppliers is that they do not use any conflict resources in the devices that we sell or the network technology we employ.

We published our Coltan Statement in 2005 and added the Statement on Extractives in 2009. The use of conflict-free resources has been a product requirement on our manufacturers since 2014. The purpose of this decision is to make sure that both our direct suppliers as well as their sub-suppliers minimize the social risks that come with extracting raw materials. We require our suppliers to comply with Deutsche Telekom's Statement on Extractives img. Policies regarding conflict resources and their use are also an integral aspect of our supplier audits.

Recycled tantalum, on the other hand, is considered conflict-free, That is why Telekom Deutschland GmbH is conducting a research project on reclaiming precious metals such as gold and tantalum from outdated network infrastructure components.


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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).