Our environmental activities in 2020
During 2020, three major programmes were put in place to achieve our climate ambitions.
1. Governance and activities
Firstly, we established the internal governance structures needed to drive success regarding our Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. Our CO2 Forum has developed a roadmap of initiatives that will deliver on our targets, using input from employees gathered through workshops and working groups, and with direction from our Sustainability Team. One of their first actions was to bring forward our scope 1 & 2 targets by 2 years.
The other key initiatives in 2020 included opening a tender for a renewable energy PPA (power purchase agreement) for our electricity consumption. This agreement will cover almost 100% of our Scope 2 emissions once implemented. We expect the agreement to be finalised in 2021 in time for execution in 2022.
We have chosen to pursue this strategy instead of buying certificates from existing renewable energy capacity, as we wish to take co-responsibility for supporting the green transition in Danish society. Our actions will fuel the development of new renewable energy resources to cover our electricity consumption without compromising other’s access through competition for existing resources.
Four additional CAPEX investments were secured for rollout in 2021. Together, they are expected to reduce CO2e emissions from the network by 191 tons in 2021. The projects cover upgrades to our cooling and power systems at various important technical sites.
In 2020, we have continued several projects from previous years that have helped to reduce our energy consumption; including legacy decommissioning. One example is the shutdown of an older version of our XDD broadband platform, which will result in a 1.5 GWh annual energy saving in the network. Although rolling out 5G and fibre across Denmark counteracted this saving, these new networks raised our energy consumption, as expected. As a result, energy consumption remained flat in 2020 compared with 2019.
2. Scope 3 inventory
In 2020, we completed our first-ever complete inventory of our Scope 3 emissions. This work uncovered in detail our indirect upstream and downstream emissions and demonstrated the true climate impact of our operations. We can clearly see that the scale of our Scope 3 emissions are two and a half times greater than our direct operations. The biggest emitters are purchased goods and services, capital goods, and use of goods sold.
This inventory provides us with the critical baseline for setting our SBTi Scope 3 target and highlights the levers available to influence them. It will also inform our supplier engagement programme, which we will ramp up in 2021, supported by an increased organisational focus and resourcing. We have identified suppliers with the largest emissions and estimated the emissions of suppliers who are not fully transparent. We will therefore work within a supplier relationship management framework to identify the potential for reducing emissions, while also conveying the importance of emission data quality and disclosure to suppliers.
An example of how this insight can help us reduce our climate impact is employee commuting. We now have a baseline that can be used to see how different internal policy options can affect our total carbon footprint. For example, in June, we launched “Pioneering Digital Collaboration”, an initiative that gives employees more freedom to work anywhere, anytime. We anticipate that employees will work more from home, even after the COVID-19 lockdowns are lifted. According to our modelling, that could a decrease of over 1,433 ton of CO2e.
3. Resource management & circularity
2020 was another very successful, if atypical, year, as we reduced the total waste volume produced from our operations by 13% compared with 2019. This sizable drop can be attributed to most employees working remotely for long periods of time. Nonetheless, we managed to maintain a high recycling rate of 61%.
From a network perspective, our 5G rollout has required upgrading 3,800 existing radio sites. Consequently, around 700 tons of existing installation material has been used for spare parts, recycled, or scrapped (e.g. approx. 40 tons of iron, 200 tons of batteries, and 400 tons of cables) this year. We have also identified approximately 85,000 devices that are now available to be sold for reuse by operators in other countries, harvested for spare parts, or recycled.
From a customer equipment perspective, we continued to work on reducing the lifecycle impact of our Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) by promoting circular processes through refurbishment and reuse. Between them, TDC Erhverv and YouSee refurbished almost 157,000 units, up 51% compared with 2019. By doing so, they avoided 77 tons of e-waste. This work not only reduces our environmental impact by shortening supply chains and avoiding transport emissions, it also reduces the need to mine for and manufacture new devices.