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Act responsibly. Enable sustainability.

Our approach for sustainable products and services

Our contribution to the SDGs

As a telecommunications company, our core business consists of expanding and operating our network. We are using this network to lay the foundations for digital participation and to enable our customers to reduce CO2 emissions with innovative, network-based solutions. To make our core product sustainable, we have set ourselves an ambitious climate target to transform the entire Deutsche Telekom network into a “green network” by 2021. By purchasing electricity from renewable energies our customers will be able to surf the web on a climate-neutral basis. 

Sustainability plays an important role in our other products, too, requiring systematic measures to be implemented across the entire value chain. This is why we begin with procurement: We can thereby ensure that sustainability criteria are met throughout supply chain.

We have our products certified by recognized ecolabels such as the Blue Angel and the TÜV Certified Green Product label. The strict requirements of these labels help us see how we can further improve our products. They also help us inform our customers of the benefits of choosing sustainable products. In 2019, we also launched our “we care” label for Deutsche Telekom products, services, and initiatives.

Even our product packaging is becoming more sustainable. Wherever possible, we use special packaging machines to reduce packaging size. To protect products in the packaging, we will be utilizing more insulating elements made from non-plastic materials.

At the end of a product’s life cycle, we contribute to its reuse or recycling. For example, we regularly carry out used cell phone collection campaigns. Depending on their condition, the mobile devices collected in Germany are properly disposed of and recycled or refurbished and resold. We launched our sustainable cell phone recycling scheme in 2019. We want to actively encourage customers to sell certain cell phones back to us, which we will then refurbish and resell among our client base with a warranty. 

In Germany and several national companies, we offer various subsidized rates to enable customers on a low income and people living with a disability to make calls at reasonable prices.

We measure our progress by means of various KPIs: 

  • We use the Sustainable Revenue Share ESG KPI img to determine the proportion of sales generated with products and services that are classified as sustainable based on a risk-benefit analysis. 
  • We measure the impact of our collection campaigns with our Used Mobile Device Collection ESG KPI.
  • We use the Enablement Factor ESG KPI to calculate the positive CO2 effects generated by customers who are using our products.

Markus Göddertz

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Markus Göddertz

Continued analysis of our products’ sustainability benefits KPI

In 2014, we began analyzing our product portfolio together with external experts based on sustainability criteria. Recently, in 2018, we revised the filter logic of our approach so we can better map current developments. As part of our analysis, we are now placing greater emphasis on aspects such as information security and the circular economy.

Overall, we have carried out in-depth analyses for 27 product groups with regard to their sustainability benefits and the corresponding business potential (as of year-end 2019).

We measure the result with the Sustainable Revenue Share ESG img KPI. The share of such products was already 43 percent in 2019 (excluding T-Mobile USA).

Our ambition: increase KPI

With a view to improving transparency in the reporting year, we analyzed the sustainability benefits of our revenue categories and assigned these to the Sustainable Development Goals img. This assignment was based on an expert assessment and is intended to provide an idea of the type of potential sustainability benefits our products deliver. Where revenues were limited, only the main SDG impact was taken into account.

To date, there is no industry-wide established system that provides sustainability information about ICT img products and services. We have started to create just such a system using our product analyses – that is, to find out which sustainability contributions our products can make in the first place. We are eager to step up our efforts in informing our customers about such sustainability benefits and thus also sharpen our competitive edge. 

In 2019, we therefore launched the “we care” label for Deutsche Telekom products, services, and initiatives. Deutsche Telekom employees can put forward suggestions for the label, which are then reviewed by an expert committee. A product, service, or initiative can receive the label for its contribution either to environmental protection or digital participation. A brief description beneath the “we care” symbol refers to the specific sustainability benefits. We use the symbol to offer our customers greater transparency and to help them make a purchasing decision.

Markus Göddertz

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Markus Göddertz

Smart Innovation KPI

In this section, we will introduce some "Smart Innovation" solutions. The associated business models are based on the most advanced technology and provide an immediate value-add for our customers. At the same time, these solutions are also making an ecological and/or social contribution to society.

We are, for example, utilizing future-oriented and widely available technologies to make cities viable for the future and to develop solutions for social challenges. For this, we are relying on innovative NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) technology, with which we are paving the way for the Internet of Things img. NB-IoT devices have a large operating range and long battery service lives. Consequently, this technology provides the basis for many innovative uses that are both cost- and energy efficient. Particularly useful areas of application for NB-IoT are, for instance, smart parking, smart cities, smart meters, as well as transport and logistics solutions.

End of 2019NB-IoT was available in more than 4 500 cities and municipalities in Germany. Deutsche Telekom has rolled out  NB-IoT in 10 countries. In most of them the countrywide rollout is completed: Germany, Greece, Croatia, Netherlands, Austria, Slovakia and the USA. In Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary the rollout will be completed shortly.

Smart Innovation NB-IoT

In the area of e-health, we are highlighting, for the reporting year, two innovative applications that provide added social value, in particular, for our customers and for society: the game Sea Hero Quest gives scientists important insights into the spatial navigation ability of individuals of all ages, within minutes – and thus 150 times faster than with conventional research methods. Gamers thus make a direct contribution to dementia research while having fun. The other e-health solution, iMedOne®,  is a hospital information system. It creates optimal conditions for connected work and supports hospital processes in multiple ways. This means that physicians and nursing staff, for instance, are able to access required data and functions at all times and everywhere. This makes a significant contribution to cost-efficiency and quality improvement. An efficient and fully integrated hospital information system that can be used on mobile devices thus improves the quality of care.

Smart Innovation - eHealth

The goals of preventing traffic jams and reducing CO2 emissions pose major challenges to cities and communities. Digital applications can help cut pollution and save drivers time by improving the flow of traffic. One example of this is the Park and Joy app, which we launched in 2017. The app pinpoints and navigates drivers to free parking spaces. It also enables users to pay for their parking directly and extend the parking time as required on the move. 

In 2019, the app already covered more than 170 000 parking spaces in 100 different towns and cities. An extension ticket free access with the Park and Joy app for around 200 multi-storey car parks is planned for early 2020.

With the developed method, both individual savings potentials for a single user of the application and predicted emission savings for cities and municipalities can be calculated.

Smart Innovations: Park and Joy

Accessible products and services

Our contribution to the SDGs

Deutsche Telekom wants to make it easier for people with disabilities to have access to the knowledge and information society.

Services for the hearing impaired
Back in 2003, we set up a hotline (Deaf Hotline) for deaf and hearing-impaired customers. Every day, up to 50 people contact the hotline. Customers and consultants can see each other using a video-based live chat application and can communicate with each other in sign language.

For deaf customers and members of the German association for the deaf, Deutscher Gehörlosen-Bund e.V., we operate a special online distribution site. There we offer a discounted mobile communications and fixed-line portfolio that is tailored to the exact needs of deaf people. Customers can order their desired plans directly on the website, can contact the employees of the Deaf Hotline or be forwarded to the information exchange platform Deaf-Café in the Telekom Hilft community.

Since the summer of 2018, hearing-impaired people in Germany have had access to a 24-hour emergency call service with sign language interpreters through the Tess/Telesign interpreter relay service for emergency situations. Tess/Telesign is jointly financed by the mandatory social security contribution paid by Deutsche Telekom to Germany’s Federal Network Agency.

Supporting users with simplified language
According to studies, 12 percent of people in Germany are not able to grasp complicated texts. In our endeavor to make it easier for them to access our products, we are working with Lebenshilfe – an organization that helps people with disabilities live with greater independence – to gradually switch our product information to simpler language. The focus topics of our CR report and our #TAKEPART stories are offered in simple language, too.

The national companies also make a dedicated effort to make their services accessible to customers. Further information is available in the respective country profiles.