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  • 2017 Corporate Responsibility Report

Used cell-phone collection in Germany

Germany's recycling and reuse rate for small electronic appliances is too low. Too many used cell phones, smartphones and tablets are stuck in drawers or disposed of illegally with the household waste. But these devices 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. Business customers can send in their used cell phones and smartphones through a buyback portal ( for business customers, which we created in 2016. After the device's value has been determined, the amount can be paid out or donated to a charitable organization. Together with company Teqcycle Solutions we also operate the Cell Phone Collection Center online portal. Through this portal, authorities, associations and other organizations have the opportunity to start collection campaigns for donating used cell phones and smartphones. The website provides an overview of these partners and the collection campaigns they conduct. Such campaigns took place in Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia during the reporting period. We also welcomed two new cooperation partners in 2017: the Frankfurt Zoological Society and Pro Wildlife e.V. At the end of the year we donated the proceeds from the devices collected through recycling and reuse to environmental organization Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V.

Our contribution to the SDGs

In 2017 we joined together with radio station Antenne Unna to hold a cell phone collection competition between the communities of the region. The station followed the various collection campaigns and crowned one of the communities the victor. The objective of the competition was to increase listeners' awareness of environmentally friendly resource consumption. The proceeds from the sales and recycling activities were donated to the Lichtblicke e.V. charity.

In 2017 we collected exactly 148,888 used cell phones and smartphones throughout Germany and either reused them or had them properly recycled. During the cell phone collection campaign we use a data deletion process that is DEKRA certified and complies with strict data protection requirements. Defective cell phones or devices where certified data deletion would be too costly are properly recycled using state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly processes at the Telekom Recycling Center in Goslar. Up to 100 percent of the materials can then be reused – as recycled metals or for energy generation.

We depict the relationship between commercially sold and collected mobile phones with our Cell Phone Collection ESG KPI.

We map the relationship between mobile devices brought onto the market and taken back with our ESG KPI "Take-back mobile devices". In 2017, approximately 317,000 mobile devices (excluding T-Mobile US, AMC, Maktel, Crnogorski) were taken back throughout the Group.

Support of various 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 2017 as well. This time the partners reinforced the campaign, together with the German Mineral Resources Agency and the Ministry of the Environment of Baden-Württemberg, with various educational measures. For example, they redesigned the "cell phone raw materials kit" for school classes. The kit contains various minerals that are used in cell phones. Using accompanying teaching materials, teachers can explain the significance of the raw materials in smartphones to their students.

The Responsibility and Sustainability. Join in! collection campaign in the state of Saarland, which we have been supporting since 2014, was extended until the end of 2018 due to ongoing interest. 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. Mutual cell phone collection campaigns with Saarland companies and institutions are a further focus.

Cornelia Szyszkowitz

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Cornelia Szyszkowitz