European telecoms operators launch environment report

Telecommunications can play a major role in reducting environmental damage. It can provide an alternative to physical travel; it can save resources by transferring information; and it can provide the knowledge to act on environmental issues. Yet there is still a lot of work to be done in improving the environmental performance of the telecommunications industry, says the European Public Telecommunications Network Operators' Association's (ETNO) first environment report.

The ETNO report, “Connecting with the Environment” was launched at the Second European Conference on Telecommunications and the Environment – jointly organised by ETNO and Telecom Italia – in Turin.

The Report, which is a collective publication by telecoms operators over and above their own reporting, outlines the environmental performance of the 21 companies that signed the ETNO Environment Charter in November 1996.

The Report focuses on the principal commitments contained in the Charter, ranging from procurement practices to the provision of environmental information to employees, shareholders and governments. It also provides numerous specific examples of initiatives by Charter Signatories. These include recycling schemes for paper directories and telephone sets, “no-dig” techniques for cable laying, and innovative approaches to the cooling of telephone exchanges which do not damage the ozone-layer.

Figures given in the report include the following ‘indicators of environmental performance’:

 Awareness 24% of companies had no internal environmental communication, 33% were developing it, 19% had some degree of communication and 24% had corporation-wide internal communication. 38% had some degree of environmental training, 24% had no training and 38% said they were developing it.

  Long-Term Strategy 29% of companies said they had no long-term strategy for incorporating environmental considerations in innovative activities. 57% said they did by not systematically, and only 14% had a systematically applied strategy.

  Procurement 52% of companies said they evaluate the environmental performance of their suppliers.

  Providing information Many companies had little or no communication with shareholders (81%) and customers (57%), but more claimed to have two-way communication with employees (52%) and Governments (47%).

  Environmental Management Systems 52% of companies had no EMS. 5% had an externally certified EMS. Some 14% described their EMS as ‘comprehensive and systematic’, while 29% said they had an EMS that was ‘systematic and in progress’.

  Quantitative indicators For the industry, the average normalised annual consumption of electricity is 0.094MWh/1000 ECU of turnover, and the average normalised annual consumption of fuels is 2.479 litres/1000 ECU of turnover.

The founding signatories of the Charter are: BT, Croatian Post and Telecommunications Ltd, Cyprus Telecommunications Authority, Deutsche Telekom, Finnet Group, France Telecom, Portugal Telecom, PTT Telecom BV, Rom Telecom, Post und Telekom Austria AG, Slovenske Telecommunikacie, SPT Telecom AS, STET, Swiss Telecom PTT, Telecom Finland Ltd, Tele Danmark AS, Telefonica de Espana, Telenor AS, Telia AB, and Türk Telekomünikasyon.

Commenting further on the rationale for the Association’s involvement in this field, Mr Hans Kraaijenbrink, Chairman of the ETNO Executive Board said, “There are two approaches that large corporations can take – to react to environmental legislation as and when it occurs, or to take a proactive approach and work to continuously improve the industry’s environmental performance. Within ETNO the question has shifted from if an environmental pro-active approach should be adopted to how it can best be achieved”.

Presentations from the conference can be viewed online by following the link below

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