Youth Advisory Panels and net-zero targets: Virgin Media O2 launches ambitious sustainability strategy

Virgin Media O2 has unveiled its first sustainability strategy since its merger, pledging to reach net-zero across the value chain by 2040, avoid 20 million tonnes of carbon from entering the atmosphere and help consumers deliver 10 million circular actions by 2025.

Youth Advisory Panels and net-zero targets: Virgin Media O2 launches ambitious sustainability strategy

The company’s Better Connections Plan is the first wide-ranging sustainability strategy since the merger of Virgin Media and 02 back in May last year.

The plan features ambitious new targets relating to emissions, reuse and recycling and connectivity.

Virgin Media O2 will now aim to reach net-zero carbon across its operations, products and supply chain by the end of 2040 and is committing to both the Science Based Targets initiative’s (SBTi) framework and the Carbon Trust’s recently launched ‘Route to Net Zero Standard’.

The company has also confirmed it will use its gigabit broadband and 5G mobile networks to power technology and services that will help prevent 20 million tonnes of carbon from entering Earth’s atmosphere by the end of 2025.

On its products and services, Virgin Media O2 has set a goal to help consumers deliver 10 million “circular actions” by the end of 2025. Measures range from using the existing O2 Recycle network for older or unwanted devices to using take-back schemes for routers and set-top boxes, of which already nine million have been refurbished since 2014.

More broadly, Virgin Media O2 has pledged to become a zero-waste business by the end of 2025. More than 95% of its operational waste will be recycled, with the remainder being sent to energy from waste facilities.

Virgin Media O2 has become a member of the Climate Group’s EV100 initiative and has committed to ensuring its fleet of more than 4,000 vehicles is switched to electric variants by the end of 2030. The company has also joined The Climate Pledge – a collective of more than 300 organisations steered by Amazon that has committed being net-zero carbon by 2040.

Virgin Media O2’s chief executive Lutz Schuler said: “It’s in all of our hands to tackle the climate crisis. As part of our mission to upgrade the UK, Virgin Media O2 is stepping up for the planet, for people and for future generations with our Better Connections Plan. We will cut carbon faster, champion more sustainable and low carbon tech, tackle e-waste, and provide data and devices to those in need, so everyone can live in a better, more connected, and greener world.

“Through our Do One Thing campaign we want to empower everyone to take actions that, when combined, create lasting impact for the planet, for each other, and generations to come. When we all do one thing, we create change for everyone – which is good for society, good for business and safeguards our collective future.”

Youth Advisory Panel

To mark the launch of the strategy, Virgin Media O2 has also launched the “Do One Thing” campaign to help customers deliver positive actions that enhance the planet.

The campaign will be supported by a new Youth Advisory Panel and £500 Eco Fund. The Panel will consist of Gen Z activists that will advise decision makers in the company on how the climate crisis is impacting younger people.

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