AT&T sets zero-waste goal for 100 sites

The world's largest telecoms company AT&T has pledged to achieve zero-waste-to-landfill status across 100 of its facilities by 2020, including at its global headquarters in Dallas, Texas.

The ambitious target means the firm will need to recycle or compost more than 90% of its waste within the next two years – a guideline set by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZIWA). In comparison, AT&T’s latest sustainability report notes that 30% of non-hazardous office waste was diverted from landfill in 2016.

“It takes all of us working together to protect our planet. That’s why we want to apply the power of our network and our people to be part of the waste solution,” AT&T’s chief sustainability officer Charlene Lake said. “Stepping onto the path to zero-waste is another way our employees are helping to improve our global headquarters community and other communities where we live and work.”

The move serves as a boost to AT&T’s existing waste strategy, which includes a pledge to refurbish or recycle 200 million electric devices by the end of 2020.The firm has recycled or refurbished almost seven million mobile phones and 68,000 computers, monitors and servers to date.

The waste target builds on other sustainability initiatives that AT&T are working on. The company recently agreed a deal to buy 520MW of wind power from NextEra Energy Resources. The agreement is expected to create carbon savings equivalent to taking 350,595 passenger vehicles off the road or providing electricity for a quarter million homes a year.

AT&T has additionally committed to enable carbon savings equivalent to ten times the footprint of its operations by 2025 by enhancing network efficiency and enabling its employees, customers and clients to lead lower-carbon lifestyles.

Circular communications technology

The telecoms and technology industries have made good progress towards becoming more circular in recent months, with Apple announcing in March that its final assembly lines in China had ZIWA certifications in 2017, just two years after the launch of  the tech giant’s zero-waste programme.

Worldwide, 100% of iPhone final assembly facilities have achieved ZIWA certifications, while Apple has also developed a new PET recycling process that uses the waste film liner material – used to protect iPhones – to manufacture trays that transport the product down the assembly line. It claims the process diverts 200 metric tonnes of solid waste from landfill each year.

Despite decent corporate progress, more than 44 million metric tonnes of electronic waste were generated in 2016, an 8% increase compared to the prior year, but only 20% has been documented as being collected and recycled.

Sarah George

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