Virgin Media O2 cuts carbon, removing the equivalent of 150,000 car journeys

Via Virgin Media O2

May 24, 2023

  • Virgin Media O2 has cut carbon by 29% against its 2020 baseline – the equivalent of nearly 150,000 car journeys from Land’s End to John O Groats – as its net zero target has been validated by the Science Based Targets initiative
  • The company is marking a year since it launched its sustainability strategy, the Better Connections Plan, where it has also driven the UK’s circular economy and provided data and devices to people in need
  • It’s also extending its digital skills goal, pledging to support six million people by the end of 2025 as it smashes its first-year target in helping disadvantaged communities to get online

In a year since Virgin Media O2 launched its sustainability strategy, the Better Connections Plan with bold and ambitious goals, new figures released today show the connectivity provider has cut carbon by 29% since 2020 – the equivalent of removing nearly 150,000 car journeys from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

The significant carbon reduction comes as Virgin Media O2’s net zero target has been validated by the by the renowned Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

Virgin Media O2’s near-term and net zero targets have been approved by the SBTi, where its climate plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions across its operations, products and supply chain (Scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions) by the end of 2040 is in-line with the latest in climate science to help prevent global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees.

Positive progress 

Virgin Media O2 has made progress against its Better Connections Plan goals over the past 12 months, with key achievements across all three areas: Carbon, Circularity and Communities.

Carbon 

  • Virgin Media O2 reduced carbon emissions (Scopes 1 and 2) by 29% in 2022 against its 2020 baseline;
  • Its products and services prevented more than 29 million tonnes of carbon entering Earth’s atmosphere last year by powering Internet of Things applications such as smart metering, resulting in more energy efficient homes and businesses across the UK, and by supporting people to be more sustainable, such as working from home and using video calling software – preventing carbon emissions from either cars or public transport;
  • Virgin Media O2 became the first UK telco to be recognised by the Carbon Trust for its net zero plan, being awarded the Advancing Level of the organisation’s Route to Net Zero Standard;
  • It has introduced more than 70 electric vans with a pledge to electrify its fleet by the end of 2030.

Circularity 

  • Virgin Media O2 supported consumers to carry out 2.4 million ‘circular actions’ in 2022 against its 10 million 2025 goal. This includes encouraging customers to buy ‘like new’ second-hand devices and using initiatives such as O2 Recycle to sustainably dispose of unwanted tech;
  • O2 Recycle saw more than 250,000 devices recycled in the past year, with zero going to landfill, paying out more than £36 million to consumers;
  • More than 10 million routers and set-top boxes have now been refurbished and reused since 2014;
  • The company also launched a £500,000 initiative, the Time after Time e-waste fund, providing grants of up to £75,000 to community groups across the country to tackle e-waste and to promote circularity – with the winners to be announced soon.

Communities 

  • Virgin Media O2 has supported more than 1.5 million people to improve their digital skills and confidence to use the internet by supporting initiatives via its strategic partnerships with Good Things Foundation and Internet Matters.As a result of this significant achievement, the company has extended its goal to support six million people – from its original goal of two million – by the end of 2025;
  • It has supported the opening of the UK’s 1,000th National Databank Hub in partnership with digital inclusion charity, Good Things Foundation, providing more than 70,000 free O2 SIM cards and 50,000 free O2 data vouchers to people in need since the initiative began. It has also committed more than 61 million GB of free O2 data to the initiative by the end of 2025;
  • The company’s Community Calling initiative in partnership with environmental charity, Hubbub, has now rehomed more than 15,000 smartphones combined with free data, texts and calls for people who need them since the scheme began in 2020;
  • More than 120,000 people nationwide have been helped by Virgin Media O2 employees using their five annual paid volunteering days to support community projects.

This activity is also underpinned by Virgin Media O2’s work in partnership with its Youth Advisory Council.  Established last year, the Youth Advisory Council is a diverse group of Gen Z activists which act as advisors and a sounding board to ensure Virgin Media O2’s sustainability strategy is grounded in the needs of future generations.

Lutz Schüler, CEO of Virgin Media O2, said:

“A year on since we launched our robust and bold sustainability strategy, the Better Connections Plan, Virgin Media O2 has stepped up for the planet, our customers and the communities we serve, going further and faster to cut carbon from our operations, support people to live more sustainably, and provide free data, devices and digital skills to help those in need get online.

“With the backing of the SBTi, as well as the Carbon Trust, we’re on track to deliver our net zero carbon plan by the end of 2040 – 10 years ahead of the UK’s net zero goal – reducing carbon emissions in-line with best-practice climate science.

“We’ll build on this positive progress and continue to use our purpose, people and products to have a long-lasting impact on society and the planet so everyone can live in a greener, more sustainable world.”

 Luiz Amaral, Chief Executive Officer of the Science Based Targets initiative, said: 

“Climate science tells us that we need rapid and deep emissions cuts if we are to achieve global net-zero. Today, Virgin Media O2 joins the growing list of companies cutting emissions across its entire value chain in line with science and it is playing its part in limiting warming to 1.5°C.”

ENDS

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