Mobile phone and service provider O2 has today pledged to halve the carbon emissions from its network and deliver CO2 reductions for its customers that are 10 times greater than its own footprint over the next three years.
The pledges are part of O2
’s Think Big Blueprint
, the mobile network’s most ambitious sustainability plan
to date, tying the Telefonica-company to 40 separate social and environmental commitments between now and 2015.
Set around three headline goals – 'Think Big for Planet’, 'Think Big for Customer’ and 'Think Big for People’ – the plan aims to increase awareness of sustainability issues among O2’s 22 million customers, on the one hand, and green the company’s extensive supply chain on the other. Key commitments include ending the provision of chargers as standard with new phones, promoting flexible working solutions to help save hundreds of UK businesses 160,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, and getting all major suppliers to adopt a sustainability programme.
In a bid to reduce O2’s own environmental impact, there’s a commitment to procure 100 per cent renewable energy
for all the company’s UK sites where it purchases energy by 2015 and a promise to reduce absolute carbon emissions across O2’s 450 retail outlets and five UK offices. A further 50 per cent cut in carbon emissions across the network is relative to increases in data traffic, the company said.
"A truly sustainable future, in an environmental, social and economic sense, requires businesses, like ours, to take bold steps to tackle our shared social and environmental challenges," O2’s chief executive, Ronan Dunne, said. "This blueprint is not simply a 'nice to have’. In an era of heightened economic and social concern, it’s an essential part of our long-term business strategy that will enable us to unlock sustainable growth and encourage positive environmental change."
A key aim of the Think Big Blueprint, according to Bill Eyres, head of sustainability at O2, is to help customers make more sustainable choices. The company has already had success with O2 Recycle, now the third biggest recycling
scheme in UK, and more recently with Eco-Rating, an independently verified O2 rating scheme ranking mobile phone handsets according to factors such as their environmental and ethical performance.
But Eyres says consumer awareness is lower when it comes to the environmental impact of mobile phone technology compared to other goods and services.
"We see our role as a leader in making people more aware," he said.
Today's commitments from O2 are also important in light of the growing carbon footprint of the ICT industry, estimated to account for between two and two and half of global carbon emissions.
Think Big also pledges to put in place processes to get more small companies and social enterprises into O2’s supply chain and to help one million young people to develop skills for life and lead community projects across the UK.
02’s sustainability plan has been devised with the help of independent think tank Forum for the Future. The not-for-profit company will monitor progress on O2’s commitments over the next three years.
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