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Other environmental aspects in the company

Paper

Swisscom distinguishes between the use of short-life and long-life materials, and is committed to reducing the environmental impact of short-life materials, in particular paper. Swisscom uses recycled paper with the “Blue Angel” environmental label. Swisscom also used this high-quality recycled paper for the new simple billing during the year under review. For advertising or print media, Swisscom only uses paper with the FSC seal (Forest Stewardship Council). The company significantly reduced paper consumption by switching to bimonthly customer invoicing, simple billing and paperless online billing. For printouts at its offices, Swisscom introduced “follow-me printing”, which helped to reduce paper consumption. Swisscom also used 34 g/m2 paper with the “Blue Angel” environmental label for telephone directories. Paper consumption for telephone directories is on the decline as significantly fewer directories are being printed.

In tonnes   Quality   2013   2014   2015
                 
Domain                
Office (copiers, printers)   Blue Angel   143   130   137
Print media   FSC Seal   3,498   3,225   2,333 3
Bills and envelopes   FSC Seal   456   424   232
Phone directories   Blue Angel   662 2   2,945   2,699
Total paper consumption       4,759   7,449   5,401 3
                 
1 75% in 2014, 100% previous years
2 Telephones directories outside perimeter Swisscom (shift to LTV and takeover of LTV by Swisscom in 2014)
3 Packaging in the amount of 635 tons included

Cables, optical fibres and wooden poles

Network construction necessitates the use of long-life materials such as cables and optical fibres. In 2015, Swisscom used the following materials in its fixed network: optical fibres, copper pairs and eco-friendly polyethylene piping. Copper is increasingly being replaced by optical fibre or only used in certain situations. The amount of copper used can vary from year to year,, as the table shows. Swisscom also installed wooden telephone poles which are treated with copper and chromium-containing preservatives. In 2015, it introduced a new process for inspecting the poles. Under this process, only deficient poles are replaced during renovations, which explains the reduction in the number of poles in 2015. Three partner companies guarantee these telephone poles are disposed of in an environmentally friendly way at the end of their useful life.

in km, tonnes or number   Unit   2013   2014   2015
                 
Material                
Glass fibre   km   1,140,509   1,377,471   1,364,004
Copper pairs   km   110,458   104,032   81,191
Plastic pipes PE   km   745   810   734
Copper 1   Tons   987   992   924
Plastic pipes PE 1   Tons   716   774   725
Telephone poles (wood)   Number of items   6,659   8,789   7,502
                 
1 converted from plastic pipes, respectively copper pairs.

Water

Swisscom projects its water consumption on the basis of an average measurement conducted in its largest buildings in 2014 and multiplies this measurement by the number of FTEs. The average measurement results in a consumption of 40 litres per FTEs and day (compared to 115 litres in 1995). In the sanitation area, levels have decreased accordingly (see table of environmental performance indicators, page 34). Swisscom is increasingly focused on reducing its water consumption. It took a pioneering role by installing flow limiters in its existing buildings. The new Sion business park is fitted with innovative valves that reduce the daily consumption of water compared to traditional valves by 90%.

The only business process in which water is used is cooling. Water as an environmental indicator thus carries little weight for Swisscom. In order to cool the return air in its data centres, Swisscom uses dry cooling. It only uses hybrid or adiabatic (i.e. through evaporation) systems to cool return air in exceptional cases. In accordance with an internal directive, preference must be given to rain water or, if permitted, river/lake water in such cases. In the case of the new data centre in Berne Wankdorf, the proportion of rain water used for cooling return air must be higher than 80%, and operation of the return air coolers using water may not exceed 15% of the total annual operating time.

Water used for cooling therefore accounts for significantly less than Swisscom’s total water consumption.

Cooling systems and cooling agents

Swisscom is in the process of replacing all compression cooling systems that use cooling agents at its telephone exchanges with the advanced Mistral cooling system. Mistral cools telecommunications equipment throughout the entire year using only fresh air and does not require any cooling agents whatsoever. Around 85% of Swisscom’s telephone exchanges have already been retrofitted with Mistral. Swisscom is also increasingly cooling its transmitter and mobile base stations without the use of compression cooling systems. Compression cooling systems with cooling agents are only in operation in data centres, with Swisscom checking regularly that they are free of leaks. Cooling agent emissions in the year under review were determined on the basis of a refill volume of 202 kg (prior year: 88 kg). It has a global warming potential (GWP) of 503 tonnes CO2 equivalent (prior year: 221) and no ozone-depleting potential (ODP, 0 kg R-11 equivalent). Swisscom requires the use of natural cooling agents for the conversion or development of data centre cooling systems. If no other option is available, Swisscom uses cooling agents with a very low global warming potential. For the first time in Switzerland, Swisscom used a heat pump with the HFO-1234ze working fluid at its operation building in Zurich-Herdern. This working fluid has a very low greenhouse gas potential (GWP = 6).

See www.swisscom.ch/​climatereport2015

Batteries and emergency power systems

Swisscom services must also be available in the event of power outages. In order to facilitate this, the company has installed batteries and emergency power systems at telecommunications buildings and data centres. Swisscom regularly reviews the prescribed security measures in the battery rooms to prevent any possible danger to the environment through the use of batteries. At the end of their useful life, Swisscom has the batteries disposed of and recycled in an environmentally friendly manner. The emergency power systems are only used during power outages and for a few hours during annual test runs. The necessary fuel consumption is included in the overall figure of the fuel consumption of Swisscom.

Packaging

Swisscom continues to send TV set-top boxes as parcel post. This measure and the smaller size of the boxes have reduced shipping volumes by 52% and shipping weight by 16%. The sophisticated packaging design dispenses entirely with foam inserts without affecting the protective function of the packaging itself.

Waste

Swisscom minimises the volume of waste it produces by carefully selecting materials and extending the useful life of products. A contract is in place with the Swiss Waste Exchange for the disposal and recycling of waste. Special waste is disposed of by authorised companies in accordance with legal requirements. Waste is sorted into 23 different types, which fall under the four main categories of recycling, household and operational waste disposed of in waste incineration plants, and special waste. In order to recycle old materials from the network infrastructure, Swisscom introduced a uniform process in 2015 and issued a corresponding directive, which strengthens transparency along the entire disposal chain. Leftover cables and building materials are sorted on site and disposed of directly. The volume of household waste is calculated by multiplying the number of full-time equivalent employees at Swisscom in Switzerland by the average annual Swiss consumption of 80 kg per FTE.

In tonnes   2013   2014   2015   2015 in %
                 
Waste categories                
Recycling   1,625   1,863   1,645   32.1
Domestic waste disposal in incineration plants   1,356   1,443   1,505   29.4
Operational waste disposal in incineration plants   235   404   1,944   38.0
Special waste   10   17   23   0.4
Total waste   3,226   3,727   5,117   100.0

Recycling

Swisscom also uses recycled materials: the individual locations use recycled paper and the head office uses rain water and district heating from the nearby purification plant. Swisscom also reuses routers where possible.

Soil and biodiversity

The base and transmitter stations ensure that the whole of Switzerland can use telecommunications, radio and TV services. In some cases, these stations are located outside populated areas.

  • Swisscom Broadcast Ltd transmitter stations: Six stations are on the edge of protected areas of national significance (moor landscapes, water and migratory bird reserves, Ramsar and Emerald sites), and two (0.4%) are in these protected areas.
  • Swisscom Ltd base stations: 63 mobile radio base stations (1%) are in protected areas, two of them in the Swiss National Park.

Only a few square metres of space have to be sealed for the construction of a mobile network base or transmitter station. Swisscom makes every effort to integrate the installations into the landscape optimally. Specifically, the search for a suitable location requires an inspection of the site and is conducted using an inventory of sensitive locations and buildings (if there any). Apart from the potential visual impact, there have been no negative effects detected from the installations. All base and transmitter stations were approved by the relevant authorities. When Swisscom dismantles decommissioned transmitter stations, it rehabilitates the ground in accordance with internal guidelines issued by Swisscom Broadcast Ltd. In 2015, Swisscom dismantled one station and rehabilitated the ground.

Swisscom supports a number of partners who work to protect the soil and biodiversity. This support takes the form of financial assistance as well as assistance through the personal efforts of Swisscom employees on site during Nature Days. These Nature Days are part of the corporate volunteering programme “Give & Grow”. In 2015, Swisscom employees clocked up a total of 940 volunteer days for nature and landscape conservation. Swisscom also provides technical services to support the Swiss National Park.

Other air emissions

Besides CO2 emissions, burning fossil fuels for heating and transport also produces NOx and SO2. These emissions are calculated using the relevant conversion factors and depend on the amount of vehicle fuel and heating fuel consumed. Swisscom is reducing NOx- and SO2 emissions by continually optimising heating boilers and drive motors. The emissions are listed in the table of environmental performance indicators, on page 34.