O2 has set out a three year sustainability plan which, among other things, aims to save four million tonnes of carbon emissions. There are three key goals to the Think Big Blueprint, with 40 individual commitments, aimed at building a more sustainable future for the company’s customers, employees and suppliers.
The plan has three core objectives:
• For the planet - a plan to deliver carbon reductions for customers that are ten times greater than the impact of O2’s network. The specifics include a promises to halve the emissions of its network, to tackle the environmental impact of phone charging (by no longer providing chargers as standard with new phones) and also a plan to ensure that all the company’s major suppliers take measures to reduce their impact on the environment.
• For customers - an undertaking to help ten million people live in easier and more sustainable ways through O2’s products and services. The pledge includes a promise to save the NHS over one million hours of health-care staff time, a commitment to save UK households over 300,000 tonnes of carbon, and enabling flexible working solutions which will save UK businesses 160,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.
• For people – commitments including a promise to help over 600,000 young people develop skills, funding to support 5,000 young people to lead community projects and the creation of 4,000 high quality work experience opportunities.
O2’s Chief Executive, Ronan Dunne, said: “As a leading provider of digital services with in excess of 22 million customers, we are uniquely positioned to use the scale of our business and our understanding of technology, to make sustainable living a reality. 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.”
My natural state is one of cynicism, so my first reaction was to question how much of this was real action by O2 and how much was just the indirect impact of its existing business. But it seems that the Think Big Blueprint is the result of a year long consultation process overseen by Jonathon Porritt’s Forum for the Future. Discussions also involved employees, consumers, suppliers and charities and NGOs. Forum for the Future will monitor, evaluate and report back on progress against each of the 40 commitments contained in the plan.
Jonathon Porritt said: “We have been struck by the integrity of their approach that has led to significant progress in a number of areas, for example O2 Recycle becoming the third biggest recycling scheme in UK.”
Also, the fact that the company has stopped dishing out chargers as standard with new phones does it for me. The company has a history in this area. O2 launched its own energy efficient charger with inter-changeable leads, making it compatible with most leading brands of mobile phones, back in 2008.
Not only that, a year ago I reported comments from Steve Alder, General Manager Devices at O2, criticising the different, and incompatible, standards for a universal charger that emerged from the EU and the ITU-T. To quote from Alder: “At both Telefónica and O2 in the UK our vision is simple. We want to take chargers out of boxes, full stop. This will reduce packaging, transport costs and ultimately waste being sent to landfill. To achieve this we need the industry to get to one single standard and we strongly believe that standard should be capable of charging all types of mobile phone.”
It’s good to hear an ICT company putting across its sustainability views loudly and clearly in this way, as well as taking matters into its own hands.