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Environmental management

Telefónica has a common environmental policy for all the companies within the Group. Through this policy, we wish to ensure legal compliance, manage environmental risks and promote eco-efficient practices.

The challenge is to reduce our internal footprint, and at the same time use ICT to its full potential, in order to provide solutions for current and future environmental challenges. To do so, all our companies are working under the same plan:

Environmental management directives for all companies in the Telefónica Group

We take the “precautionary principle” as a reference. Therefore, we analyse our environmental risks twice a year. The risks we look at are related to compliance with legislation, the state of installations with a risk of environmental pollution, the vulnerability of our network to climatic disasters and the cost of energy. Environmental and energy management systems are of paramount importance to the maintenance of these risks at minimum limits. During 2014, we received no significant penalties in this area. 

In addition, we are putting significant efforts into applying best environmental practices in our Latin American companies. Thus Telefónica Brazil, the largest operator in the region, will certify its environmental management system at the beginning of 2016.

Currently, 65%(1) of the Company has environmental management systems in place which meet the ISO 14001 international standards, as affirmed by external assessment. We hope that in 2017 100% of our operations will have external certification for their environmental management systems.

(1). Calculated based on the revenue forecast from the certified companies: Telefónica operators in Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador and other companies of the Group in Spain.

Eco-efficiency: 'More business with less impact'

Eco-efficient practices allow us to provide more services to a greater number of customers while, at the same time, reducing our environmental footprint.

In order to do this, we have concentrated our efforts on those areas of our activity that have the greatest environmental impact, such as energy consumption and waste generation, without of course forgetting the rest. 

  • A responsible network​

In the roll-out and maintenance of our telecommunications network we apply the best available practices to avoid impact from the design phase, in strict compliance with environmental legislation.

For example, we try to share, wherever possible, the location of our installations with other operators or communication tower management companies. This leads to a lower visual and energy impact and lower waste generation. This practice is becoming more and more common within Telefónica. In countries such as Mexico, 55% of network network roll-out carried out during 2014 was done via already existing co-sited locations.

Responsible Network

  • Lower consumption of resources​

Efficient use of paper. ICT is our ally in the reduction of paper consumption for all internal processes and also in our relationship with customers. An example is the generalisation of digitisation within our processes and the use of the electronic invoice (51 million customers have chosen this invoicing model, 8 million more than in 2013, which has led to a reduction in paper consumption of 1,500 tonnes).

In addition, Telefónica has policies in many of its companies which insist on the use of recycled paper as opposed to paper from virgin sources, as well as the purchase of FSC certified paper. Currently 50% of paper consumption in the Group as a whole is recycled; 658 tonnes in 2014.

Reductions in water consumption. The consumption of water at Telefónica is due, for the most part, to sanitary usage and, to a lesser extent, to air conditioning. In order to reduce it we have introduced savings measures and run various awareness campaigns among employees. In those countries where water is a scarce resource, the Company makes a greater effort. For example, in Madrid, Distrito Telefónica has in place a Sustainable Management Plan for Water, which led to a reduction in consumption of 20% in 2014. On a global level, in 2014 the consumption of water amounted to 4.1 million m3, 4% less than in 2013.

  • Waste management

Waste represents an important aspect of the environmental management at Telefónica, from the point of view of risk management and eco-efficiency. It is generated by all our operations, networks, offices and customers. Some waste may contain dangerous elements, such as batteries, while others have associated risks, such as electronic waste or e-waste. Since last year we have been carrying out internal audits and supplier audits regarding waste, with the aim of ensuring that waste is managed with the maximum guarantees. Our main focus is the reduction of waste generation, and the promotion of a circular economy, backing reuse and recycling. Currently, 98% of waste generated from our networks and from customers is recycled and 1% is reused.

Further information in the chapter: 'Supply chain management'.

  • Electronic waste​

According to the United Nations, of the 42 million tonnes of e-waste which is generated annually, only 12% is recycled. What is more, it is the generation of this type of waste that is increasing most in the world. At Telefónica we believe that the solution to this problem must be addressed through the shared responsibility of all those involved. Our contribution to change is based on these principles:

The reuse of both internal and customer telecommunications equipment is a practice on the increase. Furthermore, waste recycling is a practice which the Company has been promoting for years. We believe that the reuse of telecommunications equipment, carried out with guarantees, provides economic, environmental and social benefits. We are even working with governments in order to lay the foundations for these activities in countries where adequate infrastructures and regulations did not previously exist, and with this aim in 2014 we worked with the GSMA and other operators on a joint document.