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Green and Sustainable Work Practices for Telecom Operators to Reduce Carbon and Plastic Footprints

1 July 2024
Melanie Gomersall

Trusted by:

Telecom Egypt
BC Hydro


National Grid
Open Fiber
TPX Communications
Ella Link
Red Iris
Surf Net

As global awareness of environmental issues rises, telecom operators face increasing pressure to adopt green and sustainable practices. Keeping oceans, rivers, land and air clean is a mammoth task. Without dedicated companies (The Ocean Cleanup, 4Ocean and Parley for the Oceans, to name a few) and huge task teams cleaning up areas on our planet, we would be drowning in more and more waste every single day. A prime example of waste within the ocean is: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Let’s taker a closer look at the Telecom industry.

The Telecom industry, known for its substantial energy consumption and plastic waste, has a unique opportunity to lead in environmental stewardship. This article explores practical strategies telecom operators can implement to lessen their carbon and plastic footprints.

1. Green Energy-Efficient Networks for Telecom Operators

Telecom networks consume significant energy, particularly in data centre’s and base stations. To reduce carbon footprints, operators can:

  • Use Renewable Energy: Switching to renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power can drastically cut carbon emissions. For instance, Vodafone aims to power its entire European network with 100% renewable energy by 2025.
  • Implement Energy-Efficient Equipment: Investing in energy-efficient network equipment can lead to substantial savings. Ericsson’s 5G base stations, for example, are designed to be up to 15% more energy-efficient than previous generations.
  • Optimize Network Operations: Software-based solutions like AI can optimize network operations, reducing energy consumption. Automated energy-saving features, such as switching off unused network components during low traffic periods, can significantly cut energy use.

2. Sustainable Product Design for Telco Asset Providers

Reducing the plastic footprint begins with product design. Telecom operators can:

  • Use Recycled Materials: Incorporating recycled plastics and metals into device manufacturing can reduce reliance on virgin materials. For example, Nokia’s eco-friendly phones use recycled plastic and aluminium.
  • Design for Longevity: Creating devices that last longer and are easy to repair can reduce electronic waste. Offering software updates for older models extends their usability, reducing the need for new devices.
  • Implement Take-Back Programs: Encouraging customers to return old devices through take-back programs ensures proper recycling. Operators like AT&T offer trade-in programs that responsibly recycle old phones, reducing electronic waste.

3. Sustainable Packaging on Telecom Products

Telecom operators can significantly cut plastic waste through sustainable packaging initiatives:

  • Minimize Packaging: Reducing the size and amount of packaging material can lower plastic use. Apple, for example, has streamlined a lot of its packaging, gradually eliminating plastic wrap in favour of paper-based alternatives.
  • Use Biodegradable or Recyclable Materials: Switching to biodegradable or fully recyclable packaging materials can mitigate environmental impact. Some operators use compostable phone cases and accessories, reducing plastic waste.

4. Telecom Operator Office Sustainability Initiatives

Beyond network operations and product design, telecom operators can adopt green practices within their office environments:

  • Reduce Paper Use: Transitioning to digital documents and electronic signatures can drastically cut paper consumption. Cloud storage and collaboration tools can further reduce the need for printed materials.
  • Implement Recycling Programs: Comprehensive recycling programs for paper, plastic, and electronic waste can minimize landfill contributions. Educating employees on proper waste segregation is crucial for the success of these programs.
  • Promote Remote Work: Encouraging remote work reduces commuting emissions and office energy use. Virtual meetings and cloud-based collaboration tools facilitate remote work, contributing to a smaller carbon footprint.
Reduced Carbon Footprint Telecom

5. Green Supply Chain Management within the Telecom Sector

Sustainable supply chain practices are essential for reducing overall environmental impact:

  • Source from Eco-Friendly Suppliers: Choosing suppliers committed to sustainable practices ensures that environmental responsibility extends throughout the supply chain. Operators can prioritize vendors that use renewable energy and sustainable materials.
  • Optimize Logistics: Efficient logistics planning, such as consolidating shipments and optimizing delivery routes, can reduce transportation emissions. Partnering with logistics companies that use electric or hybrid vehicles can further cut carbon footprints.

6. Community Engagement and Advocacy from Telecom Providers

Telecom operators can also play a role in promoting sustainability within the broader community:

  • Raise Awareness: Educational campaigns on the importance of recycling and energy conservation can inspire customers to adopt greener practices. Social media platforms and customer newsletters are effective tools for spreading awareness.
  • Support Environmental Initiatives: Funding or participating in environmental initiatives, such as tree planting or beach and ocean clean-ups, demonstrates a commitment to sustainability. Collaborating with environmental organizations can amplify these efforts.

Green with Envy – VC4-IMS has the solution

Adopting green and sustainable work practices can be challenging as it forces people out of their comfort zone and into an unfamiliar space. And people are of course, creatures of habit, so breaking behaviours is sometimes hard. However introducing a software solution that can greatly enhance the OSS environment of telecom operators and with less impact on the environment, is something that most operators would gladly welcome. This solution is offered by VC4 with it’s flagship product IMS.

IMS is a complete, off-the-shelf, configurable, intelligent inventory management system. IMS manages data for any network infrastructure and topology and provides an end-to-end view of your multi-vendor networks. IMS supports any Tier 1, 2 and 3 operators within the telecom sector. Cloud/ SaaS based solutions within the telecom network inventory space are undoubtedly much better for the environment than on-premise options.

The Cloud/ SaaS solution from VC4 offers two product packages to choose from: IMS Starter and IMS Professional. Learn more about them here and download the VC4 Guide. (Remember not to print it 😉, but keep it as a digital copy). If you would prefer to get a live demo of IMS, then simply get in touch with the team via the Book a Demo form.