BT - reducing the footprint of the communication services sector

Abstract lines going into buildings

BT is one of the world’s leading communications services companies, delivering fixed-line, broadband, networked IT, mobile and TV products and services to businesses and consumers in the UK and more than 170 countries worldwide.

From systems that manage the energy use in buildings to video conferencing that helps reduce the need for air travel, communication technology can be used to reduce the pressure on resources and cut carbon emissions.

Net Good: Sustainability leadership

BT’s Net Good programme, launched in June 2013, demonstrates its sustainability leadership and shows the company’s pioneering commitment to carbon abatement. Through its Net Good project, BT aims to use its products and people to help society live within the limits of the planet’s resources – with the 2020 goal of helping customers reduce carbon emissions by at least three times the end-to-end carbon impact of its own operations. At the same time, BT is targeting an 80% reduction in the carbon intensity of its global business per unit turnover by continuing to work on improving the sustainability of its own operations and extending the influence to its supply chain.

Proud as we are of our own record, doing less environmental damage is no longer enough. At BT we are moving beyond simply making our own business more resource efficient, to really showing how our communication technology products, services, and expertise can create a better future for our customers, suppliers, and our planet

Gavin Patterson, Chief Executive Officer, BT Group

Working in partnership with the Carbon Trust, BT has:

  • Measured the full life-cycle carbon emissions of three flagship consumer products: BT Home Hub, BT DECT Digital cordless phone and BT Vision set-top box
  • Undertaken an extensive supplier engagement programme involving a number of workshops
  • Developed a climate change procurement standard that applies to all of BT’s suppliers, encouraging suppliers to use energy efficiently and reduce carbon during the production, delivery, use and disposal of products and services
  • Collaborated with the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol ICT sector guidance initiative to forge global agreement on a consistent approach to assessing the lifecycle GHG impacts of ICT products and services, and used this approach to understand the full life-cycle footprint of the communication services for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Reducing impacts

BT is one of only a handful of companies globally to have measured and reported its full GHG Protocol Scope 3 emissions against all 15 categories that detail emissions both upstream (e.g. from purchased inputs) and downstream (e.g. distribution to the point of sale).  Measuring full life-cycle carbon emissions in three of its flagship consumer products has informed BT and helped the company reduce impacts in successive models. For example, the BT Home Hub 5 has VDSL capability integrated into the unit avoiding the need for a separate modem, dual wireless technology improving short range transmission, and intelligent power management technology including a power save mode when not in use. Altogether these changes are expected to reduce power consumption by 30%, saving 13,000tCO2/year.

BT has also:

  • created Designing Our Tomorrow, a framework of sustainable design principles to bring the benefits of responsible and sustainable business practice into commercial and customer experience processes; and
  • launched the Better Future Supplier Forum to drive energy efficiency and carbon reduction in the supply chain

Investment in the future

BT’s focus on being a responsible and sustainable business leader has seen a 44% reduction in operational emissions and a 15% reduction in supply chain emissions, along with a 40% reduction in waste to landfill since 2011. At the same time, BT has decreased operating costs by 14% and boosted EBITDA by 6% - building a strong investment in the company’s future and that of the UK’s telecommunications infrastructure.