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  • 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report
2018 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. However, Deutsche Telekom does not manufacture 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 Responsible Minerals Initiative, which work toward a more sustainable supply chain.

Supporting responsible resource extraction

Our contribution to the SDGs

We require our suppliers to protect the environment and use resources responsibly. We have set forth these requirements in the document “Code of Human Rights & Social Principles”; they are also described in detail in our Supplier Code of Conduct. 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 (Link to audit results). 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. Although we do not purchase any raw materials ourselves, we do require our manufacturing suppliers not to use any conflict minerals or other such resources in their products. Our requirements are expressly and comprehensively set out in our “Coltan Statement” and “Statement on Extractives.” These are an integral part of our contracts with manufacturing suppliers. The goal is for both our direct suppliers as well as their sub-suppliers to decrease social and societal risks that could be associated with the mining of resources. We verify implementation of our guidelines regarding conflict resources during our supplier controls as well. As a GeSI member we also actively support the ICT img industry activities on the topic of Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI). We strongly encourage our direct and indirect suppliers to utilize the RMI tools for ensuring responsible resource procurement.

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Telekom Deutschland is conducting a research project on reclaiming precious metals such as gold and tantalum from outdated network infrastructure components.

Together against conflict resources

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

RMI is based on a working group that was founded in 2008 by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative and the Responsible Business Alliance industry associations (Extractives Working Group) to address sustainable raw materials extraction. Since then, the number of metal processing companies and smelters participating in RMI has continued to grow. A total of 258 of these companies have been audited in compliance with the standard audit protocol (as of December 2018).