Ms. Klesper, plastic is poisoning the oceans – is it time for a rethink?
Absolutely. We have to take a long, hard look at our plastic consumption. There are many situations where we could get rid of the plastic and replace it with more environmentally friendly materials – in packaging, for example. However, there are also some scenarios, such as in medicine, where there is no substitute for plastics – not yet, at least. In cases where we can’t do without plastic, we have to make sure the waste doesn’t end up in the environment, but is instead disposed of properly and recycled. All the same, we mustn’t forget that plastic is just one element of a much bigger problem. We need to raise awareness about resource conservation not only in relation to plastic, but also in many other areas.
Can you explain that in more detail?
We are living beyond our means! By August, we will have reached the limit of our planet’s capacity to naturally replenish the resources we are consuming in the same year. It’s obvious that this can’t go on forever. We’re all familiar with the problems – overfishing the oceans, deforestation, growing mountains of garbage, increasing amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere, and the natural disasters these cause. We need to come up with a solution fast. If we want to maintain our lifestyle, we need to move away from a disposable society to a circular economy.
What exactly is meant by a “circular economy”?
In a circular economy, the resources used are fully returned to the production process after the product’s life cycle has ended. Key to this are the elements of reuse, recycle, and repair, along with extended service lives and product sharing. Why does everyone need their own drill, when it will spend most of the time in the basement, not being used? To start with, however, production itself must of course be sustainable.
You want to see responsible management of resources – what are the best ways of achieving this?
Digitalization is an excellent way to conserve resources. If we store our holiday photos in the Magenta Cloud, for example, we don’t need a hard drive of our own. And where there’s no hard drive, no raw materials are being used, electricity consumption is reduced, and no waste is produced. The key word here is dematerialization.
But data needs to be stored somewhere, even in the cloud.
That’s right, but we can do it much more effectively than our customers. Thanks to effective capacity utilization, our highly secure, energy-efficient data centers require less hardware, which means less energy consumption. In addition, we are on the way to reducing our emissions to zero – that means eliminating our carbon footprint. This also includes emissions arising from the manufacture and use of our products. Our customers are already surfing on Deutsche Telekom’s green network.
What else is Deutsche Telekom doing in terms of conserving resources?
The Deutsche Telekom Board of Management approved the holistic “We care for our planet” environmental project – because it will take many steps, big and small. The measures in the program range from the Green Shop concept and sustainable mobility to resource-friendly products. We are creating transparency in relation to the latter through our #GoodMagenta and #GreenMagenta labels, which enable our customers to recognize which of our products offer sustainable added value. We are also getting our staff involved and supporting grassroots initiatives throughout the Group. In Germany alone, there are now more than 260 employees who are active as “Green Pioneers” – our sustainability ambassadors.