Other environmental aspects in the company


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 its 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 has significantly reduced paper consumption by switching to bimonthly customer invoicing, simple billing and paperless online billing. For printouts at its offices, Swisscom has introduced “follow-me printing”, which has helped to reduce paper consumption. Swisscom also uses 34 g/m2 and 38 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   2014   2015   2016
Office (copiers, printers) (80 g/m2= 5 g/sheet)   Blue Angel   130   137   92
Print media   FSC Seal   3,225   2,333   2,209 3
Bills and envelopes (envelopes = 6 g/pce)   FSC Seal   672.4   575.1   415.6
Phone directories   Blue Angel   2,945 2   2,699   2,414
Total paper consumption       7,449   5,401   5,130 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 770 tons included

Cables, optical fibres and telephone masts

Network construction necessitates the use of long-life materials such as cables and optical fibres. In 2016, as in the previous year, 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 varies from year to year, as the table shows. The rollout of Fibre to the Street and Fibre to the Home enables broadband usage of the current copper cable over the last few metres. No new large-wire copper cables are being installed in the trunk zone.

Swisscom also installed wooden telephone masts which are treated with copper and chromium­-containing preservatives. In 2015, it introduced a new process for inspecting the telephone masts, whereby only deficient telephone masts are replaced during renovations. This process radically reduced the number of telephone masts installed in both 2015 and 2016, as fewer masts were classified as rotten than in previous years. Three partner companies guarantee these telephone masts are disposed of in an environmentally friendly way at the end of their useful life.

in km, tonnes or number   Unit   2014   2015   2016
Glass fibre   fkm   1,377,471   1,364,004   1,202,362
Copper pairs   km   104,032   81,191   62,637
Plastic pipes PE   km   810   734   492
Copper 1   Tons   992   924   732
Plastic pipes PE 1   Tons   774   725   438
Telephone poles (wood)   Number of items   8,789   7,502   3,515
1 converted from plastic pipes, respectively copper pairs


Swisscom projects its water consumption on the basis of an average measurement conducted in its largest buildings and multiplies this measurement by the number of FTEs. The average measurement results in a consumption of 40 litres per FTE and day in 2016. Swisscom is increasingly focused on reducing its water consumption. As part of the process of operational optimisation (Pioneer project), it installed flow limiters in its existing buildings. The new Sion business park is fitted with advanced 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 93% of Swisscom’s telephone exchanges have been retrofitted with Mistral. Swisscom is also increasingly cooling its transmitter and mobile base stations without the use of compression cooling systems. It now only operates compression cooling systems with cooling agents in data centres and in telecommunication control rooms, which Swisscom regularly checks are free of leaks. Cooling agent emissions in the year under review were determined on the basis of a refill volume of 182 kg (prior year: 202 kg). They have a global warming potential (GWP) of 220 tonnes CO2-equivalent (prior year: 503) 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, it uses cooling agents with a very low global warming potential. In 2015, Swisscom became the first company in Switzerland to install a heat pump using HFO-1234ze working fluid at its operation building in Zurich Herdern. This working fluid has a very low greenhouse gas potential (GWP = 6). 2016 also saw Swisscom retrofit facilities in Ticino to make them compatible with the new working fluid.


Batteries and emergency power systems

Swisscom services must 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 danger to the environment through the use of batteries. At the end of their useful life, it 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.


Swisscom continues to send TV set-top boxes and routers as parcel post. The packaging used has been changed, with recycled material being chosen over virgin fibres. According to information provided by the manufacturer, this change results in a reduction of up to 60% in the amount of electricity consumed during manufacture, a reduction of up to 70% in water consumed as well as a drop in CO2 emissions and waste.


Swisscom selects its products carefully in order to extend their useful life. The volume of waste in the recycling segment is currently rising due to the change in technology and the switch to All-IP (fibre-optic technology).

Contracts are in place with the Swiss Waste Exchange, the company Loacker and other external partners for the disposal of waste, while special waste is disposed of by authorised companies in accordance with legal requirements. Waste is sorted into 25 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 accordance with the Federal Ordinance on Handling Waste (VeVA) – fluorescent lighting tubes with waste code 20 01 21, refrigerants with waste code 14 06 01, used oil with waste code 13 03 07, glycol water with waste code 16 01 15 and batteries with waste code 16 06 01 / 16 06 98. Leftover cables and building materials are sorted on site and disposed of directly. The volume of household waste was calculated by extrapolating the actual figures recorded in 2016 at six major locations throughout Switzerland, i.e. by multiplying the number of full-time equivalent employees at Swisscom in Switzerland by the average calculated volume of 40 kg per FTE.

In tonnes   2014   2015   2016   2016 in %
Waste categories
Recycling   1,863   1,645   3,575   51.4%
Domestic waste disposal in incineration plants   1,443   1,505   750   10.8%
Operational waste disposal in incineration plants   404   1,944   2,596   37.3%
Special waste   17   23   30   0.5%
Total waste   3,727   5,117   6,951   100.0%


The “Recycling” category in the table above comprises the following materials: metals (copper, iron, aluminium), paper and cardboard, plastics (PET, PE, PP) and toner cartridges. Swisscom has introduced a directive governing the recycling of network infrastructure materials. Since 2015, Swisscom has adopted a uniform process that strengthens transparency along the entire disposal chain. It 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. At the new Minergie-P-Eco® business park in Ittigen Ey 10, recycled concrete has been used wherever possible. The business park received the Watt D’Or – an award from the Federal Office for Energy – at the beginning of 2016.

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: Five SBC locations are situated in Emerald areas, two locations are on the edge of an Emerald area or on the edge of moorlands. One other location stands in moorlands (protected areas of national significance).
  • Swisscom Ltd base stations: 77 mobile radio base stations (prior year: 63) (1.5% of the 5,200 base stations) are located in the protected areas indicated above, two of which are in the Swiss National Park.

Base stations continue to form the backbone of any and all mobile phone networks. When positioning these antennas, Swisscom focuses not only on radio technology aspects, but also on seamless integration into the landscape and townscape as well as efficient utilisation of the available building land. Specifically, the search for a suitable location requires an inspection of the site and complies with 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.

Only a few square metres of space have to be sealed for the construction of a mobile network base or transmitter station. A base station has a base footprint of approximately eleven square metres.

When Swisscom dismantles decommissioned transmitter stations, it rehabilitates the ground in accordance with internal guidelines issued by Swisscom Broadcast Ltd. In 2016, Swisscom dismantled one station and rehabilitated the ground affected.

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 2016, Swisscom employees clocked up a total of 1,007 volunteer days (prior year: 940) for nature and landscape conservation. Swisscom also provides technical services to support the Swiss National Park. To protect biodiversity, Swisscom established a population of bees (Apis mellifera) on the site of its head office in 2016.

Other air emissions

Besides CO2 emissions, burning fossil fuels for heating and transport also produces NOx and SO2. These emissions are determined 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 36.