Australia’s largest telecommunications company Telstra has announced new sustainable packaging standards that will see the business use only recycled or renewable materials in branded packaging by the end of 2022. This announcement comes on the back of climate and energy commitments the company announced last year including a commitment to achieve net-zero emissions (carbon neutrality) and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030.
Telstra’s Head of Environment, Tom Penny, said Telstra uses 1.4 million kilograms of packaging to deliver products to customers every year, and while the majority of the components are recycled, some does end up in landfill.
“We embarked on this journey about 18 months ago because we felt we had a responsibility, and an opportunity, to create packaging that is not only simpler, easier to recycle and has a lower environmental impact, but also delivers an improved unboxing experience for our customers,” said Penny.
One of the first Telstra products to be delivered in new sustainable packaging is the Telstra Smart Modem 2, with pre-paid devices and 5G Home Internet to follow suit. With clever packaging redesign – two sheets of paper down to half a sheet and folded like origami – the packaging for the Smart Modem 2 has also been reduced to half its original weight.
“We’ve reduced the use of any plastic beyond the device, cable, magnet and protective film, and will no longer use inks or print finishes that could impact the ability to recycle the packaging,” said Penny.
These changes alone reduces total packaging materials by 75%. With 1.1 million Smart Modem 2s shipped annually, the company will eliminate roughly 258,000 kilograms of packaging from this product alone– equivalent to the weight of approximately 150 cars. As a result of the weight reduction, transportation is made more efficient, with the company being able to load an extra 33% more units on to pallets.
Telstra also announced the phase out of plastic delivery satchels, with the business switching to recycled paper packaging instead. The goal is to eliminate the use of plastic satchels entirely.
In its recent announcement, the company also pledged to reuse or recycle 500,000 mobile phones, modems and other devices each year to 2025, and increase its network waste recycling rate to 85% by 2025. Electronics is one of the fastest growing waste streams in landfill, along with textile waste, a growing environmental problem as electronic waste or e-waste sent to landfills can leach toxic chemicals into the ground which washes into waterways and pollutes surrounding ecosystems. Studies shows that 70% of toxic chemicals found in landfill come from e-waste.
With a Telstra-commissioned research revealing that two in three Australians hoarded at least one device, with a total of 61 million damaged or unwanted items sitting in drawers or cupboards, the company is running a recycling trial with government accredited mobile recycling organisation MobileMuster to provide all Australians – not just Telstra customers – with a service to help ensure these devices are properly recycled and aren’t sent to landfill.
Participating stores are now able to collect landline phones, modems, routers, tablets, smart home technology, gaming devices, smartphones and other IoT items. MobileMuster is able to recover 95% of materials including glass, aluminium, tin, copper, nickel, zinc and platinum. Recapturing these valuable materials to make available for reuse and upcycling reduces the need to extract and mine virgin resources.
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