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  • 2017 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 possible thanks to digitalization. We have set the goal for ourselves to support suitable concepts with our expertise and to advance them with respective offers.

Another solution approach is the responsible use of raw materials. It is our goal to reintroduce raw materials obtained from outdated products to the production process, which is why customers can return their outdated devices to us for proper recycling.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.

As a service provider, we use considerably less resources than manufacturing companies. The resource utilization for the manufacturing and use of our products occurs in up- and downstream stages of the value chain - at our suppliers and customers. Within our value chain, we are committed to the responsible handling of resources. This means that we support the responsible use of raw materials by our suppliers and the re-utilization of materials by our customers. For example, we support cell-phone collection initiatives in various countries to facilitate the recovery of valuable resources. For this purpose, we have introduced the Used Cell-Phone Collection ESG img KPI, which compares the number of cell phones in circulation (excluding TMUS) to the number of collected devices. We support cell-phone collection initiatives in different countries to facilitate the recovery of valuable resources. For this purpose, we have introduced the Used Cell-Phone Collection ESG KPI, which compares the number of cell phones (excluding TMUS) 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 of our national companies. They 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 procurement of green office materials. 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.

Progress

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Waste reduction and recycling

Our waste management is organized according to uniform principles across the Group. The implementation lies in the responsibility of the national companies. On a Group level, we have not set a goal for the reduction of hazardous and non-hazardous waste. 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, with the reduction of hazardous waste such as lead batteries having top priority.

Our contribution to the SDGs

Requirements for Group-wide copper cable recycling
Copper cables were a main component of telephone lines for decades. These are being replaced over the course of our fiber-optic roll-out. In January 2016, we therefore 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

Our contribution to the SDGs

With our switch-over to IP img technology and dismantling of 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. However, there are not yet suitable recycling methods for all metals. The tantalum used to manufacture condensers is extracted from coltan, which 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. In order to implement the method in regular operations, a sufficiently high amount of electrical waste would be required. In 2017, we have not yet been able to provide this. We are planning to implement this method starting in 2018.

Sale and Reuse of Electrical and Electronic Equipment in Spain

Since 2012, T-Systems Iberia has been handing over redundant electrical and electronic equipment to Kapema, a company committed to refurbishing and 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 2017, 543 laptops and 96 desktops were sold. This has exerted a significant impact as a result of reducing emissions from devices by 2,844 kg.

COSMOTE provides refurbished equipment

The OTE Group integrates the principles of the circular economy in its operations across its value chain.

Since September of 2013, contracts for fixed telephony, internet and TV have included lease provisions for the equipment provided (provided that the customer chooses to obtain the necessary equipment from COSMOTE) at no cost. This is intended to expand the lifetime and overall utilization of the equipment provided to customers of COSMOTE and the GERMANOS retail network, and ensure proper end-of-life management for end-devices. According to these conditions, operation of the equipment is covered by a guarantee while the client is under contract. The client is obliged to return the equipment after the contract comes to an end. Returned equipment undergoes detailed control checks and is repaired as necessary. It is then returned to the market in fully operational condition. COSMOTE cooperates with licensed disposal companies, and discarded equipment is forwarded to them for recycling.

As a result, consumption of resources and waste generation rates are reduced and the value of the embedded resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible, while customers benefit from lower costs for high quality services.

Highlight figures for 2017:

  • All new contracts (residential and business customers) included lease options at no cost for terminal equipment
  • 147,897 items of equipment were checked and 115,239 items were refurbished and returned to the market.
  • During the period from 2013 to 2017, around 259,092 items were recycled.