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The environmental movement has gained momentum in recent years, with consumers increasingly seeking out brands that prioritise sustainability. Telecoms, as a critical infrastructure sector with its own impact on the environment, face a unique opportunity: communicating their sustainability efforts effectively to a growing pool of environmentally conscious customers.

This article explores how telecom companies can bridge the “green gap” between their sustainability initiatives and consumer awareness. We’ll cover the importance of clear and transparent communication, explore strategies for customer engagement, and highlight the crucial role consumers play in the telecom industry’s path towards a more sustainable future.

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Why Sustainability Matters for Telecoms

The telecoms industry has a significant environmental footprint. The vast network of base stations, data centres, and electronic devices all contribute to energy consumption and e-waste generation. However, beyond these challenges lie tremendous opportunities. 

Telecoms are uniquely positioned to:

  • Drive innovation: Enable smart cities and connected communities that optimise energy usage.
  • Reduce travel reliance: Foster remote work and teleconferencing solutions, minimising transportation emissions.
  • Empower sustainable practices: Provide solutions for precision agriculture, environmental monitoring, and resource management.

Green telcos are gaining greater prominence within the industry, and as per the GSMA, the mobile sector has already achieved significant progress, reaching halfway towards maximising its impact on the global Sustainable Development Goals [1]. However, communicating these sustainability efforts isn’t merely a PR exercise; it’s about demonstrating a commitment to a cleaner, more sustainable future, and actively engaging with consumers.

Transparency, Communication, and Credibility

Building trust through transparency is paramount. Telecoms should be clear about their current environmental footprint, outlining energy consumption figures, e-waste generation data, and ongoing sustainability efforts. Annual sustainability reports communicated in clear, accessible language are essential. 

Consumers crave information and options to align their tech use with their environmental values. Here’s how telecoms can empower them:

  • Eco-Friendly Device Ratings: Develop transparent ratings on devices based on energy efficiency and repairability, guiding consumers towards greener choices. Colt is one of the telcos that joined EcoVadis, a worldwide index evaluating a company’s ESG performance against over 75,000 organisations. Their latest industry assessment positioned them in the 99th percentile, scoring 79 out of 100.
  • Device Buy-Back and Reuse Programmes: Offer incentives for customers to return old devices, facilitating refurbishment and resale to extend device lifecycles. T-Mobile minimises energy usage by employing energy-efficient technologies and investing in renewables, while their Device Reuse and Recycling program collected over 14 million devices for reuse, resale, and recycling.
  • Carbon Footprint Tracking and Reduction Tools: Provide easy-to-use tools for customers to track their data usage and associated carbon footprint, along with tips for reduction. Belong, Australia’s first fully carbon-neutral telco, created the ‘Carbon Thumbprint’ app, enabling users to assess their environmental footprint, quantifying personal greenhouse gas contributions generated by mobile network usage
  • Partnerships with Green Tech Companies: Collaborate with companies developing sustainable phone cases, chargers made from recycled materials, or other eco-friendly accessories. Optus prioritises sustainability by redesigning SIM card packaging to minimise waste, aiming to save 50 tonnes of cardboard annually and recycle 98.5% of their provider’s waste, while also emphasising responsible sourcing within their supply chain.

When consumers understand a company’s commitment to the environment, they are more likely to become loyal customers, advocate for the brand, and continuously embrace eco-conscious choices.

The Consumer’s Role in Telecom Sustainability

Consumers have a significant influence on the telecom industry’s sustainability trajectory. When considering telecom services, it’s crucial to prioritise sustainability by researching a company’s environmental practices before signing or renewing a contract. Adopting sustainable tech practices can further reduce one’s carbon footprint, such as minimising data usage through Wi-Fi utilisation, closing apps when not in use, and opting for energy-efficient devices. Extending the lifespan of devices is also key, encouraging users to take proper care of their devices, utilise repair services, and avoid unnecessary upgrades.

Consumers can participate in recycling programs to ensure responsible disposal of old devices through official channels or partner programs, contributing to circular economy principles. Additionally, consumers play a vital role in holding telecom companies accountable by engaging with them, providing feedback on sustainability initiatives, and advocating for further action to mitigate environmental impact. By collectively embracing these practices, individuals can contribute to a more sustainable telecom industry and planet as a whole.


Communicating sustainability effectively is crucial for telecoms to build trust, attract eco-conscious consumers, and drive positive environmental change. Transparency, customer engagement, and empowering consumer choices are key. Consumers, in turn, have the power to influence the industry through informed choices and active participation. By collaborating and fostering a collective sustainability consciousness, a greener future for the telecoms industry and the planet itself becomes more attainable.