Environmental responsibility

Telia Company’s services are key enablers of an environmentally sustainable economy. Cloud hosting, machine-to-machine services, tools that enable remote working and other services can contribute positively to disconnecting economic growth from negative environmental impact.

Strategic objective

2018 goals

2016 progress

  • Minimize negative and maximize positive environmental impact throughout our value chain.
  • All major operations in regions Sweden and Europe ready for ISO 14001 certification (by end of 2017).
  • Buy-back programs for mobile ­devices established in region Europe (by end of 2017).
  • 10 percent lower energy consumption per subscription equivalent.1
  • 33 percent lower CO²e emissions per subscription equivalent.
  • ISO 14001 certification in Telia in Sweden and Sonera in Finland.
  • 85,000 devices collected through buy-back programs.
  • 28.8 kWh per subscription equivalent (28.2).
  • 1.9 kg CO²e emissions per subscription equivalent (2.5).

1) Subscription equivalent is based on energy consumption for different subscriptions. Targets are based on total energy consumption and scope 1 + 2 emissions. Baseline 2015. Figures exclude energy consumption and emissions from region Eurasia, Telia Carrier and Yoigo in Spain.

Global challenges related to climate change, resource and energy scarcity and developing the circular economy rely on ICT solutions for solving these challenges. The GeSI SMARTer2030 report highlights that in 2030, ICT will have the potential to hold global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at 2015 levels while increasing resource efficiency in, for example, agriculture, transportation and electricity distribution. According to the report, the ICT industry has a GHG emissions abatement potential of 20 percent of global emissions, more than the combined emissions of the EU and the US. According to the “Accelerating sustainable Growth” report by Deloitte UK, which was commissioned by Telia Company, increased digitalization of the Nordic and Baltic economies could enable a reduction of the regions’ greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20 percent, equal to taking nearly nine million cars off the roads for one year.

Key environmental impacts

Energy, GHG emissions and waste, particularly electronic waste, are the key environmental impacts to manage in our own operations. The largest share of our total environmental impact is in the value chain of delivering an ICT service, particularly from the production and use phase of consumer electronics (see case below).

Regional differences define our approach

Significant regional differences define our approach. The biggest challenges are found in region Eurasia - weak legislation, lack of waste management infrastructure and low levels of interest from customers. In regions Sweden and Europe, customers expect us to be proactive in our work and the solutions we offer, to show how we act responsibly and help them understand how our services reduce their own environmental impacts.


According to the group environmental policy, we adopt a structured management approach to managing key environmental impacts. We do this by implementing ISO 14001 environmental management systems (EMS) in all large subsidiaries in regions Sweden and Europe. The local companies set targets aligned with group environmental goals and related to their key environmental impacts. Local companies in region Eurasia are exempt from the requirement to implement ISO 14001.

The group environmental manager has the overall responsibility for developing and implementing the group policy. Local companies implementing ISO 14001 have a clearly appointed function responsible for managing the local EMS.

Work during the year

ISO 14001 certification in Finland and Sweden

In September, Sonera in Finland received ISO 14001 certification and it is now the only ISO 14001 certified operator in the country. The EMS covers all of Sonera’s operations and focuses on two of the group’s key environmental aspects: energy and waste. The greatest positive opportunities were identified in increasing energy efficiency and improving waste recycling.

In addition, Telia in Sweden's “enterprise customers” organization is ISO 14001 certified since earlier.

Buy-back programs extend the life of mobile devices

Buy-back programs, also known as take-back or upgrade programs, extend the lifetime of mobile devices that are often in good working condition. In April, Telia in Estonia launched its buy-back program. This means that all companies in regions Sweden and Europe except Sonera in Finland now have buy-back programs in place. During the year, 85,000 mobile devices were bought back through customer channels. Through its leasing agreements, Telia Finance took back another 18,700 mobile devices, computers and other hardware.

Procuring and producing renewable electricity

As part of a new procurement instruction on electricity, regions Sweden and Europe shall purchase electricity from renewable sources, either through a “green contract” or by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (REC). In contracts where we are the tenant or co-host, we will strive to influence the electricity contract owner to use renewable energy. In total, we purchased 782 GWh of renewable electricity during the year, 85 percent (70) of total electricity consumption in regions Sweden and Europe.

Ucell in Uzbekistan and Tcell in Tajikistan produced 2 GWh of solar energy at base stations equipped with solar panels.

SMARTer2030 Action Coalition

Together with GeSI and some of its members, Telia Company signed the SMARTer2030 Action Coalition that was launched at the COP22 climate conference held in Marrakech in November. The coalition highlights the ICT industry’s commitment to both minimize its own environmental impacts and develop services that contribute to global GHG emissions reductions, thereby contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action.

Planned work in 2017

Focus will be on continued ISO 14001 implementation with the goal for all larger operations in regions Sweden and Europe to be ready for certification by the end of 2017. The EU Energy Efficiency Directive will also require local assessments and reporting of energy consumption, which we aim to combine with ISO 14001 impact assessments.


Decoupling of environmental footprint from data growth in Sweden

In August, the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) published a research paper on the environmental footprints of the ICT and E&M (entertainment and media) sectors in Sweden. Using a life-cycle assessment approach, researchers at Telia Company and Ericsson examined the total energy use and related GHG emissions of production, use and end of life treatment for both sectors, including consumer electronics, from 2010 to 2015.

The study identifies a clear decoupling of increased data volumes from energy use and total environmental footprint in these sectors. In total the ICT and E&M sectors account for approximately seven percent of Sweden’s annual electricity usage, which in absolute terms is lower than in 2010 as reported in a previous study published in 2013. During the period data volumes continued to increase - fivefold in 2015 compared to 2010. The largest share of the environmental impact from the sectors relates to embedded emissions in electronics produced in countries where energy is “dirtier” than in Sweden.

The researchers expect to find similar correlation in other countries where the level of "ICT maturity" is increasing.

Read more at www.kth.se/cesc