LCAs in the telecommunication sector

LCAs in the telecommunication sector

Andreas Kröhling, Senior Expert for Corporate Responsibility at “Deutsche Telekom AG” recommends just getting started and keeping at it! Even simply recognizing the most important areas to focus on will help you to systematically reach a better bottom line for your environmental balance. Enjoy the interview!

How do you respond when your Telekom colleagues ask you “why we make life cycle assessments (LCAs) at Telekom”?

We do LCAs in order to know what environmental impacts are associated with our products and services. We can only improve if we know what the major environmental consequences are. For our “Entertain” services (telephone, Internet and television), we have for example identified the media receiver as an important lever to improve the service’s CO2 and environmental balance.

What challenges did you face at the beginning of the LCA activities?

First of all, it was necessary to convince people that it is useful and important to be concerned about the environmental impact of our products and services. The complexity of our products and services has been quite challenging for us in terms of calculations. Many service providers use our telecommunications networks and the customers use different devices. This means that gathering the necessary data often requires great effort. As for our telecommunications networks, reasonably attributing environmental impacts caused by the network, and attributing emissions to specific products and services, is difficult and requires a good understanding of the telecommunications network.

Now that you have been dealing with this topic for quite some time already, where do you see the greatest challenges today?

I have dealt with the topic since joining Group Corporate Responsibility in 2011. The challenges have remained largely the same. Data/data availability and resources for conducting the studies are thus currently some of our greatest challenges.

By conducting LCA, has Telekom obtained any special finding or surprising results which the company could directly leverage to its own advantage?

As part of a study on our product package “Entertain” (telephone, Internet and television), we found that our telecommunication networks are only responsible for about a quarter of the emissions. When using All-IP, the proportion of our networks in the total CO2 footprint is even below 20%.

What is the most important advice you would give to other LCA practitioners?

Get started and keep at it. At the beginning, the most important part is to discover the main aspects of the company’s own environmental impact. That already helps to systematically improve a company’s environmental performance. At that point it is not even necessary to calculate the numbers with decimal places.

Thank you Mr. Kröhling!

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