Our approach to sustainable products and services
Our core business consists of expanding and operating our network. That is how we lay the foundation for digital participation. We also enable our customers to reduce CO2 emissions with innovative, network-based solutions and hence contribute to climate protection. To also make our network sustainable, we have set ourselves an ambitious climate target to transform the entire Deutsche Telekom network into a “green network” by 2021.
Our fundamental goal is to make our product portfolio increasingly sustainable. This requires consistent action along all stages of the value chain. We begin with procurement and strive to ensure that our suppliers comply with our ecological, social, and ethical sustainability requirements.
A number of our products are 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 addition, we have introduced #GoodMagenta and #GreenMagenta, our own labels for sustainable products, services, and initiatives from Deutsche Telekom.
Packaging and collection
Even our product packaging is becoming more sustainable. Wherever possible, we use special packaging machines to reduce packaging size. To protect the technical devices in the packaging, we are utilizing more insulating elements free of plastic.
At the end of a product’s life cycle, we contribute to its reuse or recycling. Depending on their condition, the mobile devices collected in Germany are properly disposed of and recycled or refurbished and resold. In 2019, we launched our sustainable cell phone recycling scheme: We buy used phones in very good condition, refurbish them, and resell them to our customers with a new 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 to determine the proportion of sales generated with products and services that are classified as more sustainable based on a risk-benefit analysis.
- We measure the impact of our collection campaigns with our Used Cell Phone Collection ESG KPI.
- We use the Enablement Factor ESG KPI to calculate the positive CO2 effects arising while our customers are using the products.
Continued analysis of our products’ sustainability benefits KPI
To date, there is no industry-wide established system that provides sustainability information about ICTproducts and services. For six years now, we have been using our own analysis method at Deutsche Telekom to assess the sustainability of our products. This includes, for example, examining the safety of the products, or how well they can be recycled.
We inform our customers about how our products are contributing to sustainability. The results of our analyses also allow us to position ourselves as a responsible company with respect to the competition. In the future, we also intend to review selected products according to the criteria of the EU Taxonomy Regulation, and analyze a possible harmonization of the two approaches.
Allocation to SDGs
In the reporting year we compared – with support from experts – the sustainability benefits of several of our products with the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The degree of detail depended on the revenue generated with the product under review: If revenues were high, we considered the impact on all SDGs. Where revenues were limited, we only took the impact on the most relevant SDG into account.
Results of the analysis
In total, we have looked in depth into 32 product groups since 2014, analyzing their contribution to sustainability and their business potential (as of the end of 2020).
We measure the result of this analysis with the Sustainable Revenue Share ESG 44 percent in 2020 (excluding T-Mobile US). This is a slight increase compared to the prior year (43 percent in 2019). We expect this value to stabilize on the current level.KPI. The share of such sustainable products was around
#GoodMagenta and #GreenMagenta labels
In 2019, we launched the “we care” label for more sustainable Deutsche Telekom products, services, and initiatives. Deutsche Telekom employees can suggest offerings that should receive the label. The suggestions are then reviewed by a committee of experts.
To make our intense efforts toward achieving an increasingly sustainable business model even more clear, we changed this label in 2020 to #GoodMagenta and #GreenMagenta. The original idea of a separate label – to make our commitment more recognizable and create more transparency – remains the same. The comprehensive process of awarding the label by a committee also remains. #GoodMagenta stands for more than 40 initiatives that promote media literacy and respectful cooperation, while #GreenMagenta demonstrates that we take climate change and its consequences seriously. As part of our sustainability program “We Care for Our Planet”, we address climate and resource protection along our value chain in a variety of ways.
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 . 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. One example is the networking of irrigation systems.
In the field of smart parking, we are currently conducting two pilot projects in Hamburg and Pforzheim. The aim is to optimize traffic flows by providing parking spaces with sensors, thereby saving time and resources.
End of 2020, NB-IoT was available in more than 6,000 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, Poland, Slovakia and the USA.
Accessible products and services
Deutsche Telekom wants to make it easier for people with disabilities to have access to the knowledge and information society. To that end, we offer them specially tailored services. We also check our products for accessibility and modify them when necessary: One example from the reporting year is the Corona-Warn-App. In September 2020, we released an update that improves the app’s accessibility. Among other things, a note was added indicating that the app hotline supports Tess Relay services for the hearing impaired.
The national companies also make a dedicated effort to make their services accessible to their customers. Further information is available in the respective country profiles.
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 deaf association, 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 2018, hearing-impaired people in Germany have had access to a 24-hour emergency call service with sign language interpreters for emergency situations. The service is jointly financed by the mandatory social security contribution paid by Deutsche Telekom to Germany’s Bundesnetzagentur (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 also offer some of our product information in simpler language. Our CR report homepage and our #TAKEPART stories are offered in simplified language, too.
Circular economy and products
In order to achieve the goal of climate neutrality, Europe must take a more thorough approach to a circular economy. The EU Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan recommends measures to extend the product life cycle and reduce electronic waste. We at Deutsche Telekom have already started down this path and are continuing to follow it single-mindedly.
For example, as part of our “we care for our planet” program, we have introduced a sustainable smartphone recycling scheme: When buying a new device, customers can trade in their used smartphone. We recondition selected, technically sound devices and resell them at affordable prices. In addition, we have been accepting all old mobile devices for many years and make sure that functioning devices will continue to be used and that the remaining devices are properly recycled. Since introducing the mobile phone collection program in 2003, Deutsche Telekom has already helped conserve resources by reusing or recycling more than three million used cell phones.
To promote sustainability, we are also committed to ensuring that routers and media receivers are not simply disposed of after being replaced. With our “Rent instead of Buying” rental service, we conserve resources, reduce the volume of electronic waste, and thus avoid carbon emissions. Last year, we returned around one million refurbished devices to our customers in Germany.
We also aim to reduce packaging materials and intensify our use of sustainable product packaging. For example, the housing of our new Speedport Smart 4 (Plus) router is made of around 90 percent recycled material. The packaging was designed to be plastic-free and therefore easy to recycle. Most of the paper used is already recycled, or comes from sustainable forestry (FSC®-certified). The use of harmful substances (such as in electronic components) is restricted beyond the level required by law.