05 April, 2022

ETNO response to the EC public consultation on sustainable consumption of goods – promoting the right to repair and reuse

General considerations

ETNO represents the main telecommunications network operators in Europe. In addition to the provision of access to communications services for consumers, our members provide mobile handsets to allow consumers to avail of the communications services to which they are subscribed.

ETNO welcomes the opportunity to send complementary views to its response to the EC public consultation on sustainable consumption of goods – promoting the right to repair and reuse.

We welcome this this initiative that aims at promoting a more sustainable and longer use of goods throughout their useful life. It will encourage consumers to make more sustainable choices, which is something that ETNO members have been already encouraging to a large extent.

As stated in the ETNO response to the EC public consultation on RED revision on Universal Charger[1], telecom operators have taken decisive measures to increase circularity in their business, bearing in mind the objective of increasing the useful life of devices.

These measures include selecting suppliers and products in compliance with environmental sustainability criteria, periodically checking along the entire life cycle, recycling and refurbishing devices, using labelling to enable customers’ informed choice in favour of sustainable products and services, and reducing their own waste.

It is worth also mentioning the Eco Rating initiative[2] that has been recently launched by Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica, Telia Company and Vodafone. The ambition is to create a holistic methodology to identify more sustainable mobile phones, which combines various aspects of the ecological performance into a scoring system related to durability, reparability, recyclability as well as climate and resource efficiency.

Telcos as promoters of the circular economy

Telecom companies have been putting forward various actions as promoters of the circular economy. These include:

Altice Portugal has been implementing the refurbishment of thousands of STB units as well as other fixed services products in recent years, namely those units collected, tested, refurbished and reintroduced in the market. In addition, Altice Portugal is also offering services for smartphones buy-back and marketing refurbished smartphones.

  • BT encourages and incentivises customers to return products for recycling or refurbishment. EE offers a Trade In scheme, and BT customers must return home hubs and set-top boxes at the end of their contract to avoid incurring a fee. In 2020, we refurbished or recycled over 900,000 home hubs and set-top boxes. To help customers get the most out of their devices, we now offer a same-day or next-day repair service at selected EE stores, and we’ve also launched a wireless diagnostic tool Fix My Device to identify and resolve issues with mobile devices or software.
  • Orange has been involved in phone recycling for 10 years and has already collected more than 15 million phones in all the countries where the Group is present (e.g. 7 EU Member States and outside of the EU).

Orange offers reconditioned mobile phones in 4 EU Members offering end-users to buy a pre-owned smartphone while at the same time allowing for re-cycling and reuse of smartphones.

  • Telefónica reuses 4 million devices per year globally, which contributes to reducing the consumption of raw materials, resources and emissions. The reuse of equipment has increased by more than 19% compared to 2020 and the emission of more than 381,000 tonnes of CO2 has been avoided thanks to this initiative in 2021.

Telefónica offers mobile phone buy-back and refurbishment options to its customers. Through this initiative, customers can take their unused mobile devices for a second life or recycling treatment without exposing the environment. In 2021, more than 300,000 mobile phones have been collected through these programmes. In addition, Telefónica facilitates the reuse of mobiles through the leasing or sale of second-hand handsets in some of their markets.

  • Telia Company offers to buy back customers’ devices in all of its Nordic and Baltic markets. In 2020, 8% percent of the number of phones sold or leased by the company were bought back. Refurbished phones are offered to customers; chargers are either not sold together with the pre-owned phone or customers are given a choice to opt out from buying accessories with a pre-owned phone.

Telia Company also offers Device as a Service to business customers. In 2020, 18% of phones sold to business customers on all Telia markets were sold as a service, allowing to maximize the re-use of an increasing number of devices through repairs, upgrades and refurbishment.  

  • TIM Company offers its Business customers insurance coverage up to 36 months that allows the replacement or reintegration of the device and no limit to the number of accidental damage. TIM can replaces broken smartphones with refurbished smartphones and in 2021, 78% of trouble ticket requests were fulfilled by being replaced with a refurbished smartphone.

Read the full paper at the link below: 

[1] https://etno.eu/library/positionpapers/449-etno-views-on-red-revision-on-universal-charger.html

[2] https://www.ecoratingdevices.com

© ETNO 2022
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