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  • 2019 Corporate Responsibility Report

Up close

“Look what we can do!” Max and Jonas proudly show off their latest feats to their grandma. The three see each other almost every day – even though they live almost 400 kilometers away from each other. No problem at all with a video call! That’s because in the worldwide web, we bridge distances that still separated us just a few decades ago. But how sustainable is it to surf the web?

SDG 12

With our sustainable services and products, we are making our contribution to SDG 12 of the United Nations Agenda 2030.

On the way to a green internet

Each click online consumes energy. That goes as much for our smartphones and computers as it does for the infrastructure in the background: networks, radio masts, and data centers. Together, they turn the internet into a real energy guzzler: If it were a country, it would have the sixth-largest energy consumption in the world, according to Greenpeace. We have therefore set ourselves the target of making the Deutsche Telekom network a “green network” by 2021 - with 100 percent of its electricity coming from renewable sources. Once our customers’ data is on the Deutsche Telekom network, it will no longer impact our climate.

But the internet can also help us save energy. With cloud computing, for instance: users who don’t store their data on their own servers, but “outsource” it to our efficient data centers instead, can reduce their energy usage by up to 80 percent. In Germany our customers were able to save 144 percent more CO2 in 2019 than we at Deutsche Telekom generated ourselves thanks to solutions like these.

“For us, sustainability naturally means more than just protecting the climate. That is why we offer a wide range of products that also score points in other areas of sustainability by conserving resources or improving medical care, for instance.” Birgit Klesper, Senior Vice President, Group Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability

Increasingly sustainable

Our range of sustainable products and services keeps on growing. In 2019, we generated 42,5 percent of our revenue with such products. A few examples:

Fewer resources

We are working on bringing products to market that are as resource-efficient as possible. By reducing the size of SIM card holders, for example, we are saving 50 percent in material – that was 20,79 metric tons of plastic in 2019.

Less energy

Heating that turns off automatically when a window is opened? Lights that only stay on when there’s someone in the room? Our smart home solutions help reduce energy consumption in the home.

Less CO2

Some 30 percent of city traffic is caused by people searching for a parking space. Deutsche Telekom’s “Park & Joy” app leads drivers straight to the nearest free parking spot – easy on the nerves and it reduces CO2 emissions too.

More recycling

In the United States, T-Mobile has taken back more than 26 million used devices since 2013. 85 percent were reused or resold, and the rest recycled. That saves valuable resources.

More e-mobility

In 2019, the Croatian national company Hrvatski Telekom installed eleven smart charging stations for electric cars on the island of Krk. Overall, it has set up more than 200 charging points in 80 Croatian cities.

Better health

Our telehealth platform enables better medical care. Patients, physicians, hospitals, nursing staff, pharmacies, and health insurers can share findings or lab results in encrypted form, for instance.


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Back into circulation

A new smartphone every year – for many of us, that’s just standard. The old device usually ends up in the drawer, and sometimes even in the trash. That’s certainly not sustainable since every smartphone contains some 30 metals, including valuable ones such as gold, copper, coltan, and cobalt. Some metals are extracted from ores that are often mined under conditions akin to civil war which are inhumane and also have a major impact on the environment. In addition, some 75 percent of a smartphone’s CO2 emissions are generated during its production. To extend the useful life of a smartphone, we launched our sustainable smartphone cycle in 2019. It works like this:

You sell your used smartphone to Deutsche Telekom – we recondition the phone, package it in 100 percent biodegradable packaging – and sell it in our shops at a fair price with a 12-month warranty. With every mobile phone refurbished, 70 percent of resources are saved per device. With every additional year of use, the CO2 balance is reduced by 31 percent.

We do, of course, also take back devices that are not suitable for resale – whether in our shops or at our cell-phone collection center. Valuable raw materials are returned to circulation through this environmentally-friendly recycling process. The take-back system is certified by Blue Angel, the German ecolabel.

Recognizable at a glance

How can our customers tell which Deutsche Telekom products are particularly sustainable? To make deciding what to buy that much easier, in 2019 we launched the “we care” label for Deutsche Telekom products, services, and initiatives. There are two “we care” categories: “Digital participation” and “Environment”.

Digital participation

The category highlights positive contributions to solving social challenges in the digital world. We started by labeling our “Media sure! But secure! initiative with the “Digital participation” symbol.


This category identifies solutions that contribute to climate protection or the responsible handling of resources. In November 2019, our more sustainable smartphone cycle was labeled with the “Environment” symbol.

In the future, additional products and initiatives will follow after careful examination. However, they will only be labeled with “we care” if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. For instance, a product that consumes more energy than comparable alternatives cannot be labeled just because it is packaged in a particularly environmentally friendly way.


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Farmer to tractor

Who would have thought that the internet could also help farmers work more sustainably? One example of this is connected farm machines. Exact position data can be transmitted in real time directly to the steering system via the mobile network. This enables machines to be precisely guided in their lanes. That reduces fuel consumption and prevents unnecessary trips when sowing, fertilizing, and harvesting.

According to a study by GeSI  img , this kind of precision farming can save an incredible 2.2 billion metric tons of CO₂ by 2030. This corresponds to 2.2 times the CO₂ footprint of all of Germany. In addition, more efficient irrigation will enable reduced consumption of valuable drinking water: up to 250 trillion liters of water can be saved by 2030 – enough to supply 180 million people with water for an entire year. Deutsche Telekom is helping to connect agriculture, thus ensuring more sustainable and effective land management.

A network for sharing

We use a drill for an average of 13 minutes of its lifetime before we throw it away. It’s a similar story with other everyday items such as suitcases and lawnmowers – we buy them, rarely use them, and then get rid of them at some point. That makes consumption a one-way street. The solution: sharing! Something that’s become a whole lot easier in the age of the internet. Whether it’s clothes, cars, or gardening equipment – there are lots of sharing apps now available that let you borrow things in your neighborhood that you don’t own yourself. It saves resources and purchase costs, and reduces the mountains of waste. The basis for this “sharing economy” is a secure and stable network. It’s by providing the necessary infrastructure that we make sustainable innovations like this possible in the first place.