May 25, 2022
Virgin Media O2 unveils its new sustainability strategy, the Better Connections Plan
Virgin Media O2’s new sustainability strategy, the Better Connections Plan sets out the company’s bold and ambitious commitments to use its purpose, people, and products to power a better, more connected, and greener future for its customers and communities nationwide.
This includes new commitments to achieve net zero across its full value chain, using its gigabit broadband and 5G mobile networks to support the transition to a low carbon future. It includes a focus on electronic waste – the fastest growing waste stream in the world – by helping ensure that devices are re-used or recycled sustainably or donated to people in need. It further commits the company to carbon reduction, champions circularity, and supports communities as it upgrades the UK.
Lutz Schüler, CEO of Virgin Media O2, said:
“It’s in all of our hands to tackle the climate crisis.
“As part of our mission to upgrade the UK, Virgin Media O2 is stepping up for the planet, for people and for future generations with our Better Connections Plan. We will cut carbon faster, champion more sustainable and low carbon tech, tackle e-waste, and provide data and devices to those in need, so everyone can live in a better, more connected, and greener world."
Zero carbon future
- Virgin Media O2 has set an ambitious commitment to achieve net zero carbon across its operations, products and supply chain by the end of 2040, and is committing to the Science Based Target initiative’s (SBTi) Net-Zero Standard
- It is one of the first companies to work towards the Carbon Trust’s robust ‘Route to Net Zero Standard’ and will undergo a challenging, three-phase certification to help manage and reduce carbon emissions to achieve net zero
- Virgin Media O2 has become a member of the Climate Group’s EV100 initiative where it has committed to transitioning its fleet of more than 4,000 vehicles to electric vehicles by the end of 2030, and it has joined The Climate Pledge – a collective of more than 300 organisations committed to climate action and being net zero carbon by 2040.
Powering next-gen green tech
- Virgin Media O2 will use its gigabit broadband and 5G mobile networks to power next-generation technology and services that will prevent 20 million tonnes of carbon from entering Earth’s atmosphere by the end of 2025
- The connectivity giant will also support key sectors to decarbonise faster, enabling Internet of Things (IoT) devices and Artificial Intelligence for cleaner transport including Connected Autonomous Vehicles; reduce traffic and congestion and improve air quality in the UK’s smart cities; and power smart factories of the futurewith automated production lines and advanced robotics for more efficient manufacturing
- Virgin Media O2 has set a goal to help consumers to carry out 10 million circular actions by the end of 2025 – from sustainably recycling devices, to sending back old kit and donating unwanted smartphones and tablets to people who need them – to tackle electronic waste by the end of 2025
- It will encourage customers to use O2 Recycle; to donate devices to those in need via Community Calling; and to use the Eco Ratingscheme to make greener device choice
- The company will build on the success of its ‘take back’ scheme where more than nine million routers and set-top boxes have been refurbished and reused since 2014
- Virgin Media O2 will also champion re-use of materials again and again, in its operations and products. New products will be designed to be more easily refurbished and repaired to extend their lifecycle
- Virgin Media O2 will become a zero waste business by the end of 2025 by ensuring more than 95% of operational waste is recycled, and less than 5% will go to energy from waste facilities
- Virgin Media O2 has set a goal to connect one million digitally excluded people through free and affordable connectivity and services by the end of 2025
- This includes measures such as Essential broadband for people who receive Universal Credit; the expansion of the Shared Rural Network to enhance rural mobile coverage for communities across the UK; and the National Databank – a foodbank for data, set up by Virgin Media O2 and digital inclusion charity, Good Things Foundation, to tackle data poverty
- Virgin Media O2 will also help to improve the digital skills and confidence of two million people, expanding its digital skills agenda with Good Things Foundation, and continuing to support parents and families to be safer online with Internet Matters. The company will also continue its partnership with Carers UK to improve unpaid carers’ access to digital tools, support and resources to make caring easier
- Finally, Virgin Media O2 will help its employees to play a greater role in the places they live by offering five annual paid volunteering days, with the ambition to support 1 million people in communities across the UK by the end of 2025
The Better Connections Plan will also champion and support the company’s new diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, All In, to become a more inclusive and equitable company, and to show greater support and allyship to marginalised communities.
Note to Editors
- Virgin Media O2’s bolder environmental commitments replace its previous goal to achieve net zero carbon in its operations by the end of 2025 (Scopes 1 and 2)
By the end of 2025, Virgin Media O2 will:
- Reduce operational emissions (Scopes 1 and 2) by 60%
- Reduce Scope 3 emissions by 25%
- Neutralise operational emissions from 2025 onwards through investing in environmental restoration and long-term carbon storage projects which meet the highest standards
By the end of 2030, Virgin Media O2 will:
- Reduce operational emissions (Scopes 1 and 2) by 90%
- Reduce Scope 3 emissions by 50%
By the end of 2040, Virgin Media O2 will:
- Net Zero carbon across operations, products, and supply chain
- Reduce Scopes 1,2 and 3 emissions by 90%
- Offset residual 10% of value chain emissions to achieve net zero
- The company will be seeking validation of its near-term Science Based Targets and net zero goal by the SBTi, in line with the SBTi’s new ‘Net-Zero Standard’
- Virgin Media O2’s measures to become a zero waste business by the end of 2025 include:
- All customer packaging for own branded products will become widely recyclable and contain zero single use plastic by the end of 2025
- The company will reuse or recycle 100% of all returned customer and network equipment
- Using recycled material and reused aggregate when building its network
- O2 was first awarded the Carbon Trust Standard for carbon in 2010 and became the first mobile company in the world to achieve the Carbon Trust Triple Standard for carbon, waste and water in 2014. In 2016, O2 also became one of the first organisations in the world to receive the highest-level Carbon Trust Standard for supply chain in 2016
- Research conducted by Strand Partners. 1,009 UK members of ‘Generation Z’ (aged 16-24) were surveyed between 29.04.22 – 03.05.22
About the Route to Net Zero Standard
The Carbon Trust is a global climate consultancy driven by the mission to accelerate the move to a decarbonised future. The Route to Net Zero Standard helps companies plan their route to Net Zero, and certifies their progress on that journey through a three tier framework – Taking Action, Advancing and Leading. More information here.
About The Climate Pledge
In 2019, Amazon and Global Optimism co-founded The Climate Pledge, a commitment to reach the Paris Agreement 10 years early and be net-zero carbon by 2040. Now, more than 300 organisations have signed The Climate Pledge, sending an important signal that there will be rapid growth in demand for products and services that help reduce carbon emissions. For more information, visit www.theclimatepledge.com.
About Building Mobile Britain
Building Mobile Britain is a campaign created by Mobile UK seeking to work with national and local government, as well as interested industry groups to overcome the challenges we face with expanding the existing mobile networks, while also developing innovative services for customers.
See here for further information - or #BuildingMobileBritain
Head of Policy and Communications
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