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BT Hail Environmental Boost from Recycling 500,000 HomeHub Routers

Tuesday, Jun 6th, 2017 (10:54 am) - Score 1,266

Telecoms giant BT has today published a new report that examines their environmental impact, which among other things reveals that their UK retail ISP division has refurbished 500,000+ HomeHub broadband routers over the past 18 months (these are used to replace any that customers return as faulty).

The annual ‘Delivering our Purpose‘ report notes that BT’s carbon footprint has actually grown in the past year and that’s largely due to the merger with EE, which has significantly enlarged the group. Nevertheless BT says that the past year still saw 82% of their electricity worldwide come from renewable sources and they aim to reach 100% “wherever we can” by 2020.


On top of that BT also produced 28,587 tonnes of waste in the United Kingdom (17% less than last year), although over 97% of this was recovered or recycled (worldwide this figure drops to 93%). Similarly the operator claims to have saved nearly 62 million litres of water this year, although their total water use has increased by 17% over the past year to 1.4bn litres overall (due to the acquisition of EE).

Quote from BT’s Delivering our Purpose Report:

We’re aiming to purchase 100% renewable electricity by 2020, where markets allow: in some countries, or markets, renewable electricity supply may not be available, or its certification is not verifiable through an internationally recognised scheme.

This year, 82% of our electricity worldwide came from renewable sources, including from our solar array at Adastral Park, as well as through long-term Power Purchase Agreements. A further 7% came from zero carbon (nuclear) sources. Prior to acquisition, not all of EE’s electricity was sourced from renewable energy. We’ve now agreed a new contract, to switch over 98% of their directly-billed electricity onto renewable sources during 2017.

The operator further claims that BT customers were able to cut their carbon emissions by 10 million tonnes, up by 32% from last year. Apparently this was achieved by using modern communications technologies, such as home broadband services, teleconferencing, BT Apps, Machine to Machine (M2M) connectivity and so forth.

By 2020, BT hopes to help its customers cut their carbon by three times their own end-to-end emissions (3:1). However they may need to pick up the progress because at present they claim to have achieved a ratio of 1.8:1, which is up from 1.6:1 last year. Overall BT states that revenue from products contributing to carbon abatement totalled £5.3bn, representing 22% of its total revenue last year.

Apparently just one of the ways in which BT reduces their impact on the environment is by refurbishing and re-using products such as mobile phones and tablets (EE’s Recycle & Reward programme), as well as BT’s HomeHubs and TV set-top boxes.

BT’s Statement on HomeHub Recycling

Whenever they replace their BT Home Hub, we encourage customers to return their old one to us. We treat these used products as valuable resources, not waste. At our warehouse in Northallerton, we check and upgrade the software, replace old parts and give them a good clean. Once the refurbished hubs are as good as new, we use them to replace any that customers return as faulty.

This reduces the total volume of new hubs we need to purchase, saving resources, energy and costs. We’ve refurbished over 500,000 BT Home Hubs over the last year and a half, and we’re installing a new production line so we can do even more next year.

A lot of people tend to assume that the replacements they receive will always be brand new kit, which clearly isn’t always the case (other ISPs have similar policies). Crucially new customers will still receive new hardware and the recycled kit is only being used to replace faulty routers.

Unfortunately it’s very difficult to independently verify the real-world impact of such claims. However last year an independent study from Newsweek, which examined the environmental performance of the world’s largest publicly-traded companies by market capitalisation (500 of them), ranked BT as the 3rd best and Sky PLC (Sky Broadband) 8th (here).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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