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2020 Corporate Responsibility Report

Mobile device collection

In Germany, we voluntarily go beyond the legal requirements to collect used cell phones. Devices that can be refurbished and reused can then be resold. The remaining devices are professionally recycled. Deutsche Telekom took back a total of around 250,680 used cell phones and smartphones in Germany in 2020.

Old mobile devices can be sent to us by mail or deposited in a Deutsche Telekom collection box. Everyone can get involved in cell phone collection via the online portal and order a free collection box.

In the reporting year, we conducted a wide-scale cell phone collection campaign with the SWR3 radio station. During the campaign period in October 2020, the station boosted its reporting on sustainability, cell phone collection, and urban mining. We collected around 20,000 devices from SWR listeners. Deutsche Telekom donated the 10,000 euros in proceeds to an insect conservation project from the Lake Constance Foundation.

We transport all collected devices in a controlled and safe manner to the Telekom Recycling Center. Each cell phone is then electronically recorded and registered in a database. Around 10 to 15 percent of them can be reused. All of the previous users’ data from these cell phones and smartphones is carefully erased. Defective cell phones or devices, for which certified data deletion would be too costly, are properly recycled at the Telekom Recycling Center in Germany. Up to 100 percent of the materials are reused – as recycled metals or for energy generation.

We work with collection specialist Teqcycle for our device collection processes. Together, we are committed to secure, state-of-the-art solutions for the collection and transport of used equipment and data deletion. Deutsche Telekom maintains high security standards for data privacy; the entire collection process has been certified by the DEKRA testing company for data privacy. The joint collection system of Deutsche Telekom and Teqcycle via the cell phone collection center has also been awarded the official Blue Angel eco-label.

As a central element in our environmental program, we developed a sustainable device recycling program, where users can sell their old, but still functional smartphone or tablet to Deutsche Telekom and have the price credited toward a new device. The old device is refurbished and resold. This is one way we can reduce the ecological footprint of newly bought smartphones.

We use the proceeds from marketing and recycling to support projects in nature conservation and environmental protection, as well as social projects organized by the partners of the cell phone collection center.

Cornelia Szyszkowitz

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Cornelia Szyszkowitz

Reporting against standards


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

  • GRI 301-3 (Materials)