From cell-phone collection to the sharing economy: Our efforts to conserve resources are multifaceted.
Conserving resources is a central focal point of our sustainability activities. We place a good deal of importance on reducing waste and recycling valuable resources.
Our goal is clear: We want to improve our resource efficiency throughout the Group. We are realizing this goal by continuing to reduce our waste production and improve our recycling processes. We also help our customers conserve resources. Take our digital services offers, for example, where DVD archives are replaced by virtual storage media like the cloud. Across Group Deutsche Telekom we record our waste accumulation on a regularly basis. With our “International Waste Management Framework” we guarantee common basic principles to established within all group companies.
International Waste Management Framework
Englisch (pdf, 31.0 KB)
We are also actively involved in cell-phone collection campaigns. Millions of used cell-phones lie abandoned in household drawers, no longer being used. They contain valuable raw materials such as gold, silver, tin and coltan, as well as pollutants, which makes proper disposal particularly important. Since 2003 we have been offering customers a variety of options for handing in their used cell phones, smartphones and tablets, e.g. returning them to the Telekom shops. Via the online portal “Handysammelcenter” everybody – whether private persons, organizations or companies – can send used cell phones to Deutsche Telekom or initiate their own collection campaigns using collection boxes free of charge, and by this support social organizations. The collected devices are then either reused or professionally recycled. Customers also have the opportunity to hand in their high-end, used cell phones and smartphones at our Telekom Shops where they are resold. Customers renewing their contracts can choose to opt out of receiving a new smartphone and switch to a more affordable plan instead.
We employ a "Don't buy, rent" model when it comes to routers and media receivers. Introducing a twelve-month minimum contract term for devices helped to extend the average usage time and reduce returns during the minimum lease period. When a contract is canceled, the customer returns the devices, which are then either reused or professionally recycled.
As a result of all these measures, several million used devices have already been reused or properly recycled.
Recovering valuable raw materials
Copper cables have been a main component in our telephone lines for decades. To a certain extent, these are now being replaced with fiber-optic cables within the scope of broadband build-out. The old cables are processed in accordance with environmental standards at certified waste disposal facilities, making it possible to recycle up to 90 percent of the material.
In addition to copper cables, we also address electronic scrap. We intend to recover precious metals such as gold and tantalum from the scrap. To do this, we have developed a method that makes it possible to recover these rare raw materials.
Sustainable office supplies
Sustainability is also important when it comes to everyday life at the office. Our workstations are designed to be environmentally friendly, using equipment such as energy-efficient devices. We also keep sustainability criteria in mind when purchasing office supplies. Take the paper we purchase, for example, which is certified by the "Blue Angel" (Blauer Engel) environmental seal.
Sharing instead of owning
The sharing economy has been more that just an attitude for some time now and has become a significant part of our industry. The "sharing instead of owning" approach contributes significantly to resource conservation. It brings with it cost savings, reduced waste of materials and environmental protection. We consider ourselves a driving force behind concepts such as these, connecting people with each other on a variety of platforms in the age of digitization.