Our internal waste management policy promotes a culture of continuous improvement as we work towards zero waste to landfill. We’re now developing a waste action plan to translate that policy into practical measures to help us get there.
We produced nearly 33,000 tonnes of waste worldwide this year, 19% less than last year. This reduction is mainly as a result of less office and catering waste, as many of our colleagues worked from home due to Covid-19, and building closures related to our Better Workplace Programme and divestments. We recovered or recycled 98.9% of this waste – 99.6% in the UK – and we’re continually looking for ways to recycle more, for example Openreach is exploring ways to recycle blue plastic rope, which is used to draw cables through ducts.
We use specialist contractors to deal with hazardous waste responsibly. This year, we introduced an app to help our engineers identify hazardous waste and simplify regulatory reporting. Through our partnership with N2S, a technology lifecycle management company, we recovered 257.5 tonnes of legacy equipment and cable from our exchanges this year, avoiding landfill. From this, 257.3 tonnes was recycled and 0.2 tonnes reused, avoiding an estimated 414 tonnes of CO2e emissions. We also used N2S’s newly developed refining process which uses bacterial bioleaching technology to recover gold from printed circuit boards.