“There is no mobile phone that is not worth returning”

Steffen, everyone with a mobile phone can do something for the environment. How?

Steffen Wasmus: By returning their old device every time they buy a new one. According to a Bitkom study, around 210 million old mobile phones are sitting in drawers in Germany. They contain a total of three tons of gold and valuable resources such as platinum or palladium, which are not available in infinite quantities. They urgently need to be returned to the cycle.

Are your drawers also cleared out?

Steffen: Of course! As a pioneer in the industry for sustainability, I have to lead by example. I also cherished my iPhone 6 for a very long time – more than 6 years. Unfortunately, at some point, the battery became so weak that it only lasted a few hours in standby mode.

What exactly do you do in your job?

Steffen: I define the sustainability requirements for our mobile devices. These are part of the technical requirements to ensure that mobile phones work optimally in our networks. The entire catalog of requirements for manufacturers includes more than 2000 points, but there is also a whole chapter dedicated to environmental protection. 80 percent of the emissions caused by a smartphone throughout its life cycle come from production. So, a significant approach is to motivate manufacturers to improve this.

Why does it matter to us what emissions other companies produce?

Steffen: Product manufacturing affects our balance sheet in terms of so-called Scope3 emissions. These include all emissions that come from sources that we as Telekom do not directly own or control. We want to reduce these emissions by 55 percent by 2030. So, we need to address greenhouse gas emissions from the creation of our products.

“Sustainability requirements” sounds very theoretical overall. Can you give us another example?

Steffen: It also involves creating the technical conditions for smartphones to be usable for as long as possible. This applies to both hardware and the length of software support. Because if a device stops receiving updates after two and a half years, refurbishment is not worthwhile. So, I intervene in such cases because second-hand products have a one-third smaller ecological footprint than new devices.

We also offer refurbished devices, but there doesn’t seem to be many available. Why is that?

Steffen: The big challenge is to obtain used devices. Currently, we are at a maximum return rate of ten percent for unused smartphones. So, we have to ask ourselves: What makes it attractive for our customers to give their device to us? Another issue is the return process. It has to be uncomplicated, otherwise people will hesitate to go through the effort. In Germany, people can order a large collection box, for example for a party or department celebration – you have a nice evening and do something good for the environment. Because there is no mobile phone that is not worth returning.

You can read here more about Circular economy or Telekom’s Collection Center for Mobile Devices (German only).

Wir bieten nicht nur das beste Netz, sondern sorgen auch für besonders grüne und nachhaltige Produkte und Initiativen.

We not only offer the best network, but also ensure particularly green and sustainable products and initiatives.

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Infos & Downloads

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