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Act responsibly. Enable sustainability.

Our approach to resource conservation and environmental protection

As a service provider, we use considerably fewer resources than manufacturing companies. The resource consumption for the manufacturing and use of our products and network infrastructure occurs in up- and downstream stages of the value chain – with our suppliers and customers. This is why we are committed to the responsible handling of resources within our value chain, and are pursuing the following measures:

  • We are consolidating our projects to conserve resources in our Group-wide environmental program, “we care for our planet”, which was adopted by the Board of Management in 2019. Our goal is to raise awareness surrounding sustainability issues and integrate sustainability in the Group along the entire value chain.
  • Our internal sustainability ambassadors, the Green Pioneers, also act as role models for all other Deutsche Telekom employees by organizing numerous campaigns inside and outside Deutsche Telekom.
  • We promote the responsible use of raw materials and the reuse of materials among our suppliers. This includes reducing the use of plastic, paper, and packaging in key processes along the entire value chain.
  • Resource efficiency is a priority at the workplace. To that end, we are reducing paper consumption through initiatives that call for less printing, for example; the digitalization of HR processes and use of white boards instead of flipcharts also support this.
  • Our International Waste Management Framework guarantees standardized guidelines for all of our national companies. They are required to use this framework as a basis for identifying their own measurable targets and then monitor target achievement. This enables them to flexibly comply with general conditions specific to each country and company.
  • We are committed to the reuse and proper recycling of cell phones.
  • We have introduced a Group-wide, mandatory policy on copper cable recycling. These cables are being partially replaced over the course of our fiber-optic rollout.

In Germany, we reduced the size of SIM card trays in 2019, saving more than 20 tonnes of plastic in the same year. In 2020, we introduced the half-size SIM card in all European national companies and were thus able to increase our savings even further. We use selected KPIs to measure and monitor continued improvements. The Cell Phone Collection ESG KPI img measures, for example, the ratio of cell phones in circulation to the number of used devices collected (excluding T-Mobile US). We measure progress toward copper cable recycling with the “Copper Cable Recycling” KPI.

With our health, safety, and environmental management system (HSE img) we have made a commitment to continually improving our performance in these areas. The system is based on the international standards ISO 45001 on occupational health and safety, ISO 14001 on environmental management, and ISO 9001 img on quality management. Our environmental guideline summarizes all of the current voluntary ecological commitments in effect throughout the Group.

Reporting against standards


Global Compact

  • Principle 8 (Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility)
  • Principle 9 (Encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies)

Resource efficiency at the workplace

We also contribute to resource efficiency at the workplace: We try to use as many green office supplies as possible. In 2020, 26 percent of all catalog-based office supplies were sustainable. We also took the following measures in Germany:

  • Our “IT Remarketing” project: Used IT hardware is refurbished so that it can be reused.
  • Some of our office products bear the EU Ecolabel, the Fairtrade seal, the Organic Farming seal, the Blue Angel eco-label, or the FSC® and PEFC environmental labels.
  • A total of 26 percent of the products in our office products catalog in Germany are classified as sustainable.
  • Office supplies are delivered largely in accordance with the carbon neutrality certificate.
  • Since 2018, we have worked with a paper wholesaler to purchase only environmentally certified paper that has been awarded the “Blue Angel” (Blauer Engel) or the “Nordic Swan” certificate.
  • To reduce the amount of paper used throughout the Group, we ask our employees to opt out of having salary statements sent by post and have them provided online instead.
  • The goal of our “Paperless Office” project is to increase the number of e-books and e-papers to save even more paper.
  • On our “You and Me” social network, we also offer our employees a platform where they can exchange used office supplies instead of ordering new supplies.
  • Our partner, the charitable organization “AfB gemeinnützige GmbH”, which offers jobs for people with limitations, receives some of our used IT hardware (e.g., laptops) for reconditioning and reselling.
  • To meet the requirements of the Minamata Convention img and curb mercury emissions, we are working to modernize the media technology used in our company. We are now replacing devices that still contain mercury with new mercury-free devices. The old devices are professionally recycled or disposed of.
  • Where possible, we are opting for projectors with state-of-the-art lasers or laser-LED hybrids that work without any conventional lamps.

Online billing for mobile and fixed-line customers in Germany KPI

More than 235 million online bills were sent out in 2020. This is the equivalent of around 83 percent of all bills and credit notes for mobile and fixed-line customers in Germany. Since 2017, the data has been collected using a more precise calculation method.


Reporting against standards


German Sustainability Code

  • Criterion 2 (Materiality img)
  • Criterion 10 (Innovation and Product Management)

Global Compact

  • Principle 7 (Support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges)
  • Principle 8 (Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility)

European Federation of Financial Analysts Societies (EFFAS)

  • V04-13 (Percentage of services or products for increasing eco-efficiency of own products)

Additional measures to conserve resources KPI

Print on demand
Print on demand has many advantages: Quick reference guides can be printed as needed depending on orders and don’t need to be preprinted, transported and stored. Changes to information sheets for our customers can be made on short notice, eliminating large quantities of outdated documents that need to be destroyed. Initially, we will have print on demand available for quick reference guides for the MagentaZuhause rates. In the next step, we will review whether other materials are also suitable for print on demand – such as those containing multiple pages, a brochure, or a SIM card.

Discounted food
Since November 2020, we have offered our employees discounted items in the cafeterias after 4 p.m. at two locations in Germany. Employees can purchase items that would otherwise have to be thrown away, such as baked goods, salads and muesli, at half price. This has kept some 2,400 items from being thrown away.

RECUP returnable cup
In 2018, we joined forces with Sodexo, the company running our cafeterias in Germany, to introduce the RECUP returnable cup. Since then, the system has been introduced at many Deutsche Telekom sites. In the reporting year, the number of RECUP returnable cups rose by 54 percent to more than 19,000.

As a sustainable alternative, one reusable RECUP can replace around 500 disposable cups and can then simply be recycled. In return for a deposit of 1 euro, our employees get their coffee in a reusable RECUP. This can be returned to any participating partner, where the deposit is returned and the cup rinsed and reused.