O2 set to become UK’s first net zero mobile network


O2 has unveiled its plans to become the first Net Zero mobile network by 2025.

The UK network will also implement more ambitious carbon reduction targets within its supply chain. O2 will work with its suppliers, including handset manufacturers, to target emission reduction across its supply chain by 30% in the next five years.

Mark Evans, CEO of O2, commented on the news: “We want to go further and faster, setting the bar in our industry to tackle climate change and build the greenest network for our customers. Every office, every store, every mast.

“We will get the changes done to be a Net Zero Business by 2025.

“Mobile can play a pivotal role to make our country more sustainable. From smart metering to smarter working.

“O2 will work with suppliers, partners and customers to ensure that this industry plays its part in delivering a greener country for us all.”

O2 will also focus its efforts on the wider power of mobile, working beyond its own business to help other sectors in their search for more sustainable solutions.

This includes its work with the UK Smart Metering programme and working with partners to replicate O2’s own success of saving 20,000 tonnes of carbon over the past eight years through flexible working technology.

Together, these commitments represent the fastest and furthest reaching carbon reduction program announced by a UK mobile network operator.

O2 has put clear plans in place to achieve its new environmental commitments:

  • To become Net Zero by 2025, O2 plans to switch third party landlords that support the O2 network over to renewable energy, while creating technical and energy transition solutions across its whole business where needed. O2 already uses 100% renewable energy where it controls the energy bill.
  • To reduce supply chain emissions by 30% by 2025, O2 will be working with the wider Telefonica Group to implement more ambitious carbon reduction targets to encourage suppliers to accelerate their efforts to reduce emissions.

Progress against both commitments will be reported annually and will be independently assessed and audited by Aenor and ERM.

Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, commented the announcement: “In the year Glasgow hosts COP26, O2’s new commitments to achieve net zero within five years and cut carbon emissions in its supply chain show real leadership.

“Its record on supporting the environment, using 100% renewable energy at its sites and recycling three million devices in the last decade, deserves credit.

“I hope it inspires other firms to follow suit and do more to safeguard the environment.”

The announcement builds on a decade of moves from O2 to help tackle climate change, including:

  • Smart Network: Using advanced automation, O2’s networks operate on a ‘smart turn-off’ function – saving energy by dropping capacity when demand is low, saving over 6,000 megawatt hours of energy, the same amount of energy required to make 360 million cups of tea
  • Renewable energy: O2 started its renewable energy procurement in 2008. Since this time, it has invested £400 million in renewable energy sources.
  • Recycling: Since 2009, O2 has helped customers recycle over three million devices and saved 450 tonnes of waste from landfill. This is the longest-running major UK network recycling initiative. O2 also recycles old retail uniforms turning them into ‘processed fibre’ used to make new product
  • Customer-facing initiatives: O2 was the first to introduce an Eco rating scheme2 for new phones, and to work with manufacturers to take chargers out of the box on new device sales. The Telefónica Group has been included on the CPD A-list for six consecutive years, the non-profit’s independent survey which recognizes corporate leaders acting to address environmental risks. The company also leads the telecom sector in terms of sustainable financing. Telefónica successfully issued the first green bond in Jan 2019 and the first hybrid bond in Jan 2020, amounting to €1 bn and €500 million, respectively. In addition, Telefónica reduced CO2 emissions by 18% in the last year – a 50% reduction in four years.  100% of the electricity in its main markets comes from renewable sources.