Waste management ambitions and reporting are limited in the telecoms industry
As a resource-intensive industry, telecoms companies must take responsibility for curtailing waste streams connected to network infrastructure, e-waste from data centres and device and office waste. The rapid evolution of communication technology and infrastructure imposes a heightened demand on telecoms operators, leading to an increased consumption of materials (including metals, biomass, construction minerals and industrial minerals), energy and the creation of waste streams. This is particularly concerning as material and waste usage are major contributors to the industry’s carbon footprint. According to the Circle Economy’s Circularity report 2023, 70% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are directly linked to material consumption. However, the ramifications extend beyond emissions, as material consumption are a strong proxy for environmental damage – driving over 90% of total biodiversity loss and water stress worldwide.
While much of the telecoms industry does show an awareness for circularity, current ambition seems inadequate, and reporting on waste is still limited for many operators.