On June 24, 2021, Vodafone confirmed that all its European operations including fixed and mobile networks, retail offices, and data centers will be fully powered by electricity generated from renewable sources starting July 1, 2021. That move will mark a major step towards Vodafone’s goal of mitigating its carbon emissions to ‘net zero’ by 2030 and across the firm’s whole value chain by 2040.
Vodafone is set to celebrate this milestone across Europe by raising awareness of its green network with a concurrent consumer campaign that will feature the company’s iconic brand turning ‘green’ across major digital and social channels in 12 markets.
In the past year, Vodafone has continued to make considerable progress towards guaranteeing the greening of the firm’s activities, while also accelerating the role of Vodafone’s digital networks and technologies play in assisting in addressing climate change.
In July 2021, Vodafone introduced its plans to acquire 100% renewable electricity in Europe to July 2021 from its past target of 2025 and is now committed to achieving that same change in Africa by 2025.
Nick Read, Vodafone Group CEO, said:
“From 1 July 2021, Vodafone’s customers across Europe can be reassured that the connectivity they use is entirely powered by electricity from renewable sources. This is a major milestone towards our goal of reducing our global carbon emissions to net-zero by 2030, helping our customers reduce their environmental footprint, and continuing to build an inclusive and sustainable digital society in all of our markets.”
Around 96% of Vodafone’s total energy consumption in the financial year 2021 came in the form of purchased electricity. After the announcement, 100% of the company’s purchased electricity in Europe is now from various renewable generation sources including places where Vodafone is a tenant on other landlord sites.
Vodafone’s Planet Actions
The company is committed to mitigating carbon emissions and driving energy efficiency. Last year, Vodafone set an approved 2030 Science-Based Target that came in line with carbon reductions needed to keep global warming to 1.5oc. It became a leading major telecom operator to follow the emission reduction pathway created for the ICT industry.
In 2021, Vodafone cut its total Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by around 30% year-on-year, to .37 million tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent). The achievement was underpinned by the company’s continuing focus on energy efficiency and an increase in the proportion of renewable electricity bought in Europe from 33% in FY2020 to 80% in FY2021.
Vodafone’s energy use has remained majorly flat in the past year, despite a 47% year-on-year increase in mobile data traffic within the same period from 7,983 petabytes (PB) in FY20 to 11,714 PB in FY21. That is as a result of the growing use of more energy-efficient mobile technology and analytics, which includes M-MIMO that is nearly 70% more efficient than 4G.
Notably, Vodafone has invested over €65 million during the last 12 months in energy efficiency and on-site renewable projects, resulting in annual energy savings of 135 GWh. The main energy efficiency initiatives have also featured sourcing and deploying more efficient network equipment, slowly switching off the less energy efficient 3G network, and then decommissioning legacy equipment in the company’s core network.
From October 2021, Vodafone brought in a 20% weighting for social and environmental criteria when suppliers tender for new work. The firm’s updated process now examines if suppliers have environmental policies that address carbon reduction, plastic reduction, renewable energy, product life cycle, and circular economy.
Vodafone’s efforts have now been recognized by CDP, a global environmental non-profit organization, for its decisive and relentless actions and transparency on environmental impact, securing a place on CDP’s climate change ‘A List’.
Supporting Vodafone’s Clients To Mitigate Their Emissions
In July 2021, Vodafone committed to helping its business clients reduce their carbon emissions by a cumulative total of 350 million tonnes worldwide over ten years from 2021 to 2030 equivalent to Italy’s cumulative yearly carbon emissions for 2019.
Most of the savings will be made via Vodafone’s Internet of Things (IoT) service that enhances the efficiency of logistics and fleet management, manufacturing, smart meters, and other activities.
According to the Carbon Trust, Vodafone enabled its clients to avoid about 7.1 million tonnes of CO2e during FY21. Over 54% of Vodafone’s 123 million IoT connections directly enabled clients and users to reduce their emissions.
In March this year, Vodafone joined other firms and organizations to become a founding member of the European Green Digital Coalition. This coalition brings together ICT industry companies to work with European Union policymakers and experts to drive investment in, and the implementation of, various digital solutions that help in fighting climate change.
Mitigating Waste And Assisting In Creating A Circular Economy
In the latest announcement, Vodafone has pledged to resell, reuse, and recycle 100% of the firm’s network waste by 2025. It has managed to implement resource efficiency and waste disposal management programs across all markets to reduce the environmental impact of network waste and redundant IT equipment and infrastructure.
Around 98.7% of Vodafone’s network waste, apart from hazardous waste, was sent for reuse and recycling in FY21, with a general reduction in network waste year-on-year of around 22.5% to 6,307 tonnes down from 8,138 tonnes in FY20.
Last year, the company unveiled an internal asset marketplace that encourages Vodafone’s markets to resell and repurpose their excess stock or huge decommissioned electrical items like masts and antennae. That move has avoided more than 1,250 tonnes of CO2e, which saved the company at least €10 million in the process.
Today, Vodafone is assessing the potential of expanding the solution to partner markets and many other operators. The company supports the move towards a fully circular ecosystem for the devices that are sold to customers and has even accelerated its initiatives aiming to extend the lifespan of devices through refurbishment, repair, and resale before it encourages the responsible recycling and reuse of devices at the end of their useful life.
A majority of the Vodafone markets already operate trade-in and device buyback schemes and repair services to encourage users to repair and even return their old devices. This telecoms company is now working hard to refurbish and reuse fixed-line equipment many times, with considerable associated environmental and cost savings.
Earlier this year, Vodafone joined the Circular Electronics Partnership that brings together leaders from across the value chain from reverse logistics, manufacturing, material recovery, to e-waste management and drives circularity solutions for electronics.
In May, Vodafone joined forces with four of Europe’s network operators to set up a new pan-industry Eco-Rating labeling scheme. This scheme helped consumers identify and compare the best and most sustainable mobile phones and encouraged all suppliers to mitigate the environmental impact of their devices.