Sustainable living and working

Swisscom supports customers in their pursuit of a sustainable way of living and working. Climate-friendly and low-radiation products and services to residential customers and Green ICT services to business customers belong to its portfolio.


Environment and objectives

A study by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative found that the ICT sector has the potential to cut global CO2 emissions by some 15%, for example, by replacing business trips with videoconferencing or establishing communications solutions for home offices. Furthermore, the optimisation of vehicle fleets, the use of energy-efficient services from data centres and the intelligent control of buildings, equipment and power networks all contribute to lowering CO2 emissions and saving energy using ICT technology.
Swisscom is aware of its responsibility in the ICT sector and undertakes a host of initiatives to structure its offerings in a more resource-friendly and energy-efficient manner, as well as offering products and services to help customer reduce their CO2 emissions and save energy

Ecological, socially acceptable product innovation

The CR strategy is an integral part of the product design process, during which information is gathered on the effects of new products on the four strategic priorities using a CR checklist. If the effects are shown to be substantial, the appropriate measures are taken.

Climate-friendly products and services for residential customers

Offering for residential customers

During the year under review, Swisscom Switzerland’s Residential Customer segment consolidated its programme for sustainable living and working. The aim of the programme is to optimise products and services from an ecological point of view (for example in terms of radiation and energy efficiency) and ensure transparency in communication with residential customers.
Life-cycle assessments of Swisscom’s networks and devices carried out in recent years have consistently identified the following three aspects as the main environmental impact factors:

  • Energy consumed by devices through customer use
  • Energy consumed producing the devices
  • Energy consumed by network elements

Measurable successes of the programme in the reporting year:

  • 1-W set-top box: Swisscom launched new models of the set-top boxes in spring 2012 which feature a low power mode with an energy consumption of only 0.4 watt. Swisscom further developed the low power mode until November 2012 so it now also offers the programmed recording feature. This means that all new set-top boxes can now be supplied with the low power mode as the default setting. Aside from a slightly longer start-up time, customers experience no disadvantages whatsoever as a result of this change.
  • Ecomode plus: cordless phones with Ecomode plus emit only minimal levels of radiation. Almost all of the cordless phones sold by Swisscom are now Ecomode plus models.

Swisscom is making existing customers aware of the following possibilities for saving energy:

  • Set-top boxes: activation of the power-saving mode, if the customer has one of the new set-top boxes on which the low power mode is not the default setting, and the option of switching off the set-top box when they are not being used – provided that the customer has another set-top box.
  • Eco points: mobile handsets of individual makers differ not only in terms of design and performance but also in terms of environmental compatibility. Information on the energy consumption or the raw materials used in the manufacture of the devices until now has not been readily available to customers. To create more transparency, Swisscom became the first provider to introduce eco points in Switzerland in 2011. All the devices in Swisscom’s portfolio are rated according to three equally weighted criteria: low energy consumption, low energy consumption in manufacture and responsible choice of raw materials. Eco points are limited to ecological aspects. The more points a device receives, the greater the environmental compatibility. This means that in future customers will be able to factor environmental compatibility into their purchase decisions. In 2012, Swisscom began further developing the eco point rating system and applying it to fixed-line devices. As of the start of 2013, Swisscom customers will thus be able to benefit from the independent eco point rating provided by myclimate when purchasing fixed-line devices.
  • Recycling: Swisscom provides a two-year guarantee on all telecoms devices such as phones, modems, mobile phones and mobile unlimited USB modems and also offers repair services. In addition, any electronic devices from the Swisscom range can be returned to Swisscom for recycling, and equipment such as routers is reused where possible. This service is performed in cooperation with SWICO Recycling, the recycling commission of the Swiss Association for Information, Communication and Organisational Technology and is financed by a recycling fee charged in advance. Recycling statistics are available from SWICO.
  • Swisscom Mobile Aid (formerly Solidarcomm):in 2012, around 170,000 mobile handsets were returned for recycling and many of these were sold via a third-party company to countries where there is a demand for low-priced second-hand devices. All proceeds from the sales go to the réalise social organisation and the terre des hommes suisse and SOS Kinderdorf Schweiz relief organisations. Devices that can no longer be sold are professionally recycled. The return rate of used mobile handsets has increased in comparison to previous years. This is in large part due to a Swiss-wide collection drive launched in November 2012 in collaboration with Valora, SOS-Kinderdorf and the Ringier media enterprise. The Swiss population turned out in large numbers to donate their old mobile handsets. The response rate in 2012 amounted to 11.4% (prior year: 8.9%) and the target of 12% was thus met (tolerance threshold of 5%).
  • Online billing:online billing is increasingly seen as an attractive, environmentally friendly alternative to a paper bill. The number of customers who opted to receive their bill online rose from 723,000 in 2011 to 865,000. This represents an increase of 19.6% as of the end of 2012 compared with the previous year. Swisscom has taken a wide range of steps to further improve the appeal of online billing, primarily by showing the customer that online billing not only benefits the environment, but also saves the customer time and money thanks to the simplified procedure.

Green ICT for business customers

Green ICT programme

Swisscom’s Green ICT programme features products and services that are designed to help business customers reduce their energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The following categories apply to Green ICT services:

  • Reducing business travel:virtual conferences, solutions for home offices and mobile working, solutions for optimising logistics
  • Saving energy:outsourcing and virtualising servers in efficient data centres, solutions for efficient workplaces
  • Saving paper:solutions for paper-saving printing and working without paper

The respective products and services are labelled as recommended by myclimate. The climate recommendation label indicates the energy and CO2 savings compared with previous consumption behaviour.
In 2012, Swisscom once again implemented numerous measures to increase the utilisation of Green ICT services and thus reduce CO2 emissions.
Swisscom expanded its offering of the Green ICT services bearing the myclimate label. These new services include, for example, the Conextrade electronic trading platform, which allows for paperless transactions and billing, and Printing Solutions, which helps save paper, toner and energy.
The continued growth in revenue recorded in the year under review demonstrates the appeal of Green ICT services.2012 also saw Swisscom issue more customers in Western and German-speaking Switzerland with Green ICT certificates. The certificates state the amount of emissions that the Swisscom customers have saved by using Green ICT products. 43 customers have so far received these Green ICT certificates. They save annually more than 10,000 tonnes of CO2 and approximately 6,400 MWh.

Swisscom and the University of St. Gallen jointly investigated the attitude of Swiss companies towards Green ICT. 758 companies took part in the survey. The results have been available since October 2012 and are published on the Swisscom Green ICT homepage.
The survey showed that Green ICT services are already being well utilised mainly by large businesses, while there is still substantial potential for more use among smaller companies. Especially services in the area of mobile working are subject to wide use while other applications for optimising logistics or buildings are less popular.
Other activities undertaken by Swisscom in the area of Green ICT include the following:

  • National Home Office Day:Swisscom has supported the Home Office Day as a partner since its inception in 2010. Swisscom participated in the national Home Office Day for the third time and continued to raise awareness of the advantages of this working method for companies and employees.
  • New working methods:Swisscom held a Green ICT event in November 2012 at which Swisscom customers and members of the Swiss Association for Environmentally Conscious Management (ÖBU) were informed as to how companies can save on costs and resources by implementing new working methods such as home offices and efficient workplaces – while at the same time boosting employee motivation and performance.
  • Relieving the pressure on transport routes thanks to new working methods:at the end of 2012, Swisscom worked together with the SBB to initiate a study to investigate the extent to which new working methods may relieve the pressure placed on transport routes. As part of this study, several hundred SBB and Swisscom employees will test – until spring 2013 – the extent to which new working methods free up heavily utilised trains and roads in peak times. The results will be published in summer 2013.

Green ICT at Swisscom

Swisscom is not only encouraging its customers to use Green ICT, but is also using Green ICT solutions internally:

  • 18 Swisscom sites are now equipped with the Telepresence virtual videoconferencing solution.
  • Practically all employees are now able to set up videoconferencing and desktop sharing with other colleagues at the click of a mouse, enabling them to work part of the time from home. Swisscom’s participation in Home Office Day has also served to further embed the topic of new ways of working in the company culture. Swisscom consequently issued guidelines for the first time on the internal utilisation of home offices.
  • In the year under review, Swisscom schooled employees in the “Corporate Customers” and “Small and Mid-Sized Enterprises” segments on the subject of Green ICT and sustainability, using a “Hello Future Dialogue” communication package. The individual teams presented their contributions to sustainability. The best team contributions received an award at a joint event with divisional management.
  • All Swisscom employees received the Virtual Meeting Reminder at the end of 2012. When scheduling meetings, this small IT tool reminds employees across various locations to conduct the meeting as an electronic meeting. In addition, the tool automatically calculates the potential savings in time and CO2 emissions.

Low-radiation communications technologies

Advice and information on wireless technologies and the environment

Specially trained Swisscom employees advise persons involved in the construction and operation of mobile networks as well as stakeholder groups seeking general information on wireless technologies, the environment or health. During the reporting year Swisscom held over 600 discussions with key stakeholder groups on the subjects of mobile communications and the environment. In the majority of cases, it was local projects for expanding the mobile network that had given rise to such discussions.

Research and development in the area of electromagnetic fields

Swisscom works with and financially supports the Swiss Research Foundation on Mobile Communication (FSM) based at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, and employs four qualified employees to monitor and interpret the latest research findings on electromagnetic fields, their effect on organisms and the measurement of emissions.
Mindful of the major responsibility that operating its wireless networks entails, Swisscom follows scientific research by internal and external experts into the effects of non-ionising radiation on organisms. It also analyses the research findings and supports relevant scientific activities.
Based on current knowledge, scientists consider the current limits for electromagnetic fields as safe (see WHO Fact Sheets Nos.193 and 304).

Certification of quality assurance system for compliance with ONIR limits

Swisscom is required to operate a quality assurance system (QAS) for the base stations of its mobile network to ensure that the antennae in operation comply with the statutory limits at all times. In 2005, Swisscom decided to have this quality assurance system certified to the ISO 15504 standard. The quality assurance system was audited in November 2012 by an external auditor mandated by SGS. Swisscom passed this audit of the quality assurance system, scoring a capability level of 4 (out of a maximum of 5), which means that the processes relevant for the QAS are “targeted and measureable”.
The legal obligation to limit emissions from mobile communication installations in Switzerland comes from the Ordinance relating to Protection against Non-Ionising Radiation (ONIR), the aim of which is to protect people against harmful or undesirable non-ionising radiation. The Ordinance applies to the operation of fixed installations that emit electrical and magnetic fields with frequencies between O Hz and 300 GHz. Swisscom complies with the ONIR limits. The Swiss limits are 10 times lower than those in the European Union.

Duty to provide information on products offered at points of sale

Swisscom provides information on the radiation levels of the mobile handsets that it sells. Prices on all products on display and offered by Swisscom are clearly disclosed as prescribed by the Federal Ordinance on the Disclosure of Prices. This declaration is supplemented by relevant technical information on the products. Customers and other interested parties can also find information on levels of radiation emitted by mobile handsets (so-called SAR values) at Swisscom points of sale and on the Swisscom website. There is no legal obligation to provide this information. By doing so, Swisscom is responding to a need by customers for whom radiation levels are particularly important when it comes to choosing a mobile phone. It goes without saying that no mobile handsets offered exceed the limit of 2W/kg; half (48.7%) are below 0.8 W/g and 28.2% even have a SAR value below 0.6 W/kg (product portfolio as at December 2012).