The global telco industry can, by applying circular principles, unlock values of $45-80 billion annually, according to a new study by Telia Company in collaboration with Accenture. The report is published as the world demonstrates support for environmental protection by celebrating Earth Day and Telia Company launches new goals aimed at achieving zero waste by 2030 to significantly contribute to the circular shift.
The report, titled The Shift: The Role of Telcos in the Circular Economy, demonstrates the logic of the circular economy and why it is the key to solve both the climate and the broader ecological crisis.
“When looking at the ICT industry through a circular economy lens, it is clear that we are both part of the problem and the solution. Digitalization will speed up the transformation from a linear to a circular economy by fully using the power of Internet of Things and data-driven solutions to use natural resources in a smarter way. The time has come to seize these opportunities, while simultaneously addressing our own negative environmental impacts”, says Sara Nordbrand, Head of Group Sustainability at Telia Company.
Telia’s new circularity goals and actions
Research from the World Economic Forum estimates that global e-waste volumes will increase by 140% between 2020 and 2050, if companies and governments continue the route of business as usual. To prevent such a development, Telia Company today presents new circularity goals and concrete actions to accelerate its work to prevent/reduce, re-use and recycle materials to reach zero waste within its own and network operations within a decade. These include:
- 84% of waste materials from Telia’s own operations as well as from network construction and maintenance will be re-used or recycled by 2025.
- To further contribute to the circular economy, the company will significantly increase sales of pre-owned/re-used mobile phones as well as phones sold “as a service”. “Device as a service” is a pay-for-use model enabling Telia to prolong the lifetime of devices through repairs, upgrades and refurbishment. It also ensures that phones are returned to the company for reuse or responsible recycling when no longer in use, instead of being left at home in drawers.
“The circular economy presents an opportunity for all industries to find and scale value from sustainability efforts, and it is time for telcos to lead on these efforts not just participate in them, “ said Anders Helmrich, Telia Company client account lead at Accenture. “Telco companies are uniquely positioned in the ecosystem to act as an enabler for other industries to deploy digital and circular solutions, but at the same time can now also act to improve their own footprint toward a net-zero future.”
The EU as well as many governments and companies have started to take action to advance circular measures. But as of today, only 9% of material inputs in the global economy are cycled back, which shows that we are just at the beginning of an urgently needed transformation.
The report is a call to action and invitation for consumers, business customers, telco peers, suppliers, policymakers and others to join the circular shift. National and regional circularity plans, complementing and supporting the ones countries already have in place for climate action and greenhouse gas emission reductions as a response to the Paris Agreement, are called for – to create a joint vision, identify areas for innovation and investments, and align stakeholders around a target state.
Read the full report here
Read more about Telia Company’s environmental work and goals here