As an access and applications provider, our business with physical products makes particular use of electronic devices and hardware. Applications are developed internally or together with partner organizations, and are operated on more than 90,000 servers in our 10 data centers. In contrast, the Consumer Access Segment primarily provides our customers with information and communications technology hardware (ICT) in the form of devices such as smartphones and routers, tablets, laptops, web surfing hardware, and accessories, along with rate plans for using our mobile network and broadband services. In addition, our employees use IT hardware to perform their tasks.
Smartphones, routers, and other devices that we provide our customers may contain components that cannot be disposed of as household waste. Our job is to take responsibility for these products’ entire life cycle, and to recycle materials properly after use so that no pollutants are released into the environment as waste. We have signed a waste disposal contract with our partner, specialist waste disposal service provider Interseroh, to ensure that the devices that we supply can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner. We inform customers about how to dispose of their mobile and landline hardware professionally every time we make a delivery, and list Interseroh’s collection points (German only) on our website. This ensures that all customers have the opportunity to return their old equipment for recycling or disposal.
Both European directives and Germany’s Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (Elektronikgerätegesetz – ElektroG) ban the disposal as household waste of old equipment and all electronic parts included in deliveries, and require them to be disposed of professionally to permit recycling. The goals are to protect the environment and health, and to conserve resources.
According to industry association Bitkom, there were roughly 206 million old cellphones and smartphones in circulation in Germany in 2021 that were no longer in use but still worked or could be recycled. In other words, according to Bitkom this figure has doubled since 2015, when there were 100 million such unused old devices. An efficient circular economy requires such devices to be reused or professionally recycled so as to ensure that valuable raw materials such as precious metals and rare earths can be recovered.
A number of Drillisch brands have been offering refurbished devices since 2019. In 2021, this option was available for the yourfone, winSIM, smartmobil.de, maXXim, and galaxyexperte.de brands. All customer cellphones that are returned within 30 days are checked thoroughly and tested for reusability. This involves deleting all personal data on the device, checking the functionality in-house, and also checking for wear and tear. If the devices are in perfect working order, they are cleaned and polished, and any missing accessories (headphones, charging cables, etc.) are supplied. These returned devices are marketed at a significant discount to the price of new ones. They are in perfect working order, have been quality assured, and come complete with accessories, original packaging, and a 24-month guarantee. In addition to the price benefits for customers, this conserves key resources and reduces the use of supply chains, hence cutting carbon emissions. Internal handling of returned devices was expanded in the 2021 reporting period using a standard reclamation process. A dedicated team is responsible for this.
The 1&1 trade-in campaign, which is also known as the “1&1 Trade-in Bonus,” offers a transparent, customer-friendly way of returning used cellphones, tablets, and notebooks. More than 26,000 old devices were received within a year of the 1&1 Trade-in Bonus program being launched, and were forwarded to a sustainable recycling process by 1&1. 1&1 combines the goal of conserving resources with a financial incentive for clients. Customers can exchange their old devices for a bonus when ordering new ones. This can be up to several hundred euros, depending on the model concerned. The trade-in bonus is credited directly to customers’ bank accounts when the old device has been received. Roughly 5,200 kg of old electronic devices have been recycled as a result. This conserves valuable resources and cuts waste.
In addition, 1&1 introduced free use of the 1&1 LTE antenna hardware required for the use of its “Sofort-Start-Option” and “Sofort-Online” products. This means that customers no longer have to buy the hardware when they enter into the contract. Rather, they simply return it free of charge after use to 1&1. After this, it is checked and, if necessary refurbished, before being made available to the next customer. This avoids the need for a six-figure number of newly produced devices every year, conserving valuable resources and massively reducing the volume of functioning hardware being consigned to waste.
For over 11 years now, we have ensured that internally used servers and network equipment are recycled in an environmentally appropriate way when they are retired by passing them on to recycling specialist AfB gGmbH. This organization recycles them professionally or reclaims them for reuse, prolonging the life of the hardware and conserving resources. AfB is a disability inclusion company; according to its own figures, roughly 45% of its current employees are people with disabilities. This means we not only ensure our hardware is handled by environmental and recycling experts, but also improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
AfB reclaimed or recycled the following volumes of old IT equipment for us over the past three years:
Old IT equipment
Number of devices
Reclaimed and reused in %
Raw materials recovered through recycling in %
(1) The “tablet” category was reported separately by AfB in the 2020 reporting period. Since these devices were included in the “flat-screens” category in previous years, no figure can be provided for 2019.
In 2021, we delivered 129.83 tonnes (2020: 172.39 tonnes; 2019: 183.39 tonnes) of hardware to AfB, helping to save 365.37 tonnes (2020: 973.33(1) tonnes; 2019: 146.75 tonnes) of CO2 equivalents. All in all, our 11-year partnership has already saved 6,991.03 tonnes of CO2 equivalents from 1,866.55 tonnes of IT equipment and mobile devices.
(1) These figures cannot be compared with those for the previous year due to the update to the life cycle assessment and the inclusion of additional types of IT equipment and mobile devices.
Part of our business involves providing our customers with products such as smartphones and routers so they can use our services. This task is performed for all 1&1 AG brands by our own logistics center in Montabaur. (Secondary) packaging and information materials are needed to protect and dispatch these products. In addition, we send access data, for example, by post for security reasons. The (secondary) packaging materials that we use largely comprise paper, paperboard, and cardboard (PPC) with a high recycled content of 75–80%. We aim to continuously optimize our use of materials, e.g., by reducing transportation packaging.
The total number of letters and packages shipped by our logistics center increased by approximately 5.7% year-over-year (2021: 6.38 million; 2020: 6.03 million; 2019: 6.89 million). At the same time, the consumption of packaging materials (both plastic and PPC) has been reduced since 2019. The main reason for this was a change in the law in 2019.
We report the amount of (secondary) packaging used in shipping and selling products annually, both to our waste disposal partner and in parallel to the packaging register, LUCID (an online platform run by the Foundation for the Central Agency Packaging Register (ZSVR)). The process has changed compared to 2019 as a result of the introduction of the new German Packaging Act (Verpackungsgesetz – VerpackG). Organizations introducing packaging covered by the system onto the market for the first time on a commercial basis in Germany (“initial introducers”) must register with LUCID and report the amounts of packaging involved. As a result of the change in the law, 1&1’s logistics operations are now considered to be the initial introducers for fewer packaging materials than was previously the case. Instead, the manufacturers themselves have to pay the packaging fees, and to report the amounts involved, in a larger number of cases.
As a result, 1&1’s logistics operations did not produce any significant amounts of plastic in 2021. The use of PPC also fell from 432.69 tonnes in 2020 to 430.02 tonnes in 2021. The volume of materials required depends on, for example, the relative proportions of devices or SIM cards shipped, and can therefore fluctuate over the years.
Total paper, paperboard, and cardboard (PPC) consumption in tonnes
Total plastic consumption in tonnes
Number of shipments in millions
Amount of PPC per shipment in grams
Amount of plastics per shipment in grams
CO2 equivalents in tonnes(2) (Scope 3)
(1) The figures relate to 1&1 AG in its entirety.
(2) Calculated on the basis of the conversion factors published by DEFRA for 2019, 2020 and 2021.
SIM cards for Drillisch Online’s brands are sent using recycled envelopes that are stamped with Germany’s “Blue Angel” label logo. Recycling of (secondary) packaging materials by our service providers Landbell AG and “Duales System Deutschland GmbH – The Green Dot” led to the equivalent of 223.73 tonnes of carbon emissions being saved in 2020(1) (2019: 223.26 tonnes(2)).
(1) The figures for the current reporting period were not available by the editorial deadline for this report.
(2) The data for 2019 only covers Landbell AG.
Our logistics operations also aim to reduce the use of transportation materials when servicing is required (e.g., when a faulty piece of equipment has to be replaced for a customer). Where loaned devices have to be exchanged, customers receive the new device from a selected delivery service, which replaces the device directly on site. The new device is delivered in specially developed reusable shipping packaging that can be used to return the old device directly. This not only reduces material costs but also saves customers time. In addition, we expanded our returns management in 2020 – a move that led to its further professionalization during the 2021 reporting period, with structural modifications being made to the working environment and the workstations being optimized.
We started including the shipping distances associated with our logistics operations as from 2019, in keeping with our aim of reporting more and more of the greenhouse gas emissions we cause.
Packages destined for our customers are delivered by our logistics services providers (these include DHL, Hermes, and GLS). An internal estimate suggests that, all in all, our packages traveled approximately 809.84 million km in 2021 (2020: 886.32 million km; 2019: 875.38 million km). This corresponds to a year-over-year decrease of 76.48 million km. Based on the information and estimates provided by our logistics services providers, this generated approximately 1,422.39 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions (2020: 1,695.24 tonnes; 2019: 1,904.02 tonnes)(1). These emissions were not generated by our organization itself, but are the result of our business activity and therefore count towards our Scope 3 emissions.(2)
(1) The figures for 2019 and 2020 were adjusted in the 2021 reporting period due to the harmonization of the method used for capturing carbon emissions data. They are reported using the “well-to-wheel” (WTW) method and are based on the information supplied by the service providers.
(2) The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (2011) requires purchased transportation and distribution services for products sold to be assigned to upstream Scope 3 emissions (category 4).
Kilometers traveled for package deliveries in millions(1)
(1) Estimate based on the distances between the target locations and the logistics center in Montabaur; the figures do not include upstream journeys to depots, detours, any multiple deliveries, or returns; mean figures were calculated in some cases.
(2) The figures are based on the information and estimates supplied by our logistics services providers. The figures for 2019 and 2020 were adjusted in the 2021 reporting period due to the harmonization of the method used for capturing carbon emissions data. They are reported using the “well-to-wheel” (WTW) method and are based on the information supplied by the service providers.
In addition, we source our packaging and printed materials from local suppliers, avoiding transporting them for long distances and reducing carbon emissions.
We have been working together with GDW (Genossenschaft der Werkstätten für behinderte Menschen Mitte eG), which destroys and recycles our old physical files, for more than four years. Not only do GDW’s recycling operations help protect the environment, but they also provide jobs for people with physical and mental disabilities.
In addition, we started making increasing use of digital invoicing with our suppliers in 2020. The project was launched before the COVID-19 pandemic but has been stepped up since then and our customers are also making increasing use of this feature. For example, both we and our suppliers are sending digital invoices in order to save paper and cut the resulting carbon emissions.
The following table shows paper consumption at our locations in Germany, which are supplied centrally with paper. The figures can vary from year to year, since in many cases a large amount of paper is ordered and distributed once a year. If, for example, an order is placed for a large amount at the end of a year, the quantity ordered in the following year will decline. What is more, the paper ordered in a particular year is not used up entirely in that same year. The vast majority of copy paper used in the Group has been certified in accordance with the EU Ecolabel, which is used to denote products and services with a lower environmental impact than comparable options.
Total paper consumption in tonnes
Paper consumption per employee(2) in kilograms
CO2 equivalents in tonnes(3) (Scope 3)
(1) The figures relate to our companies and locations in Germany, which are supplied centrally with paper. Including Strato and Drillisch, or letterhead and specialty paper.
(2) Arithmetic average; the figures relate to the employees at the companies and locations listed in (1).
(3) Approximate figure calculated on the basis of the conversion factors published by DEFRA for 2018, 2020 and 2021.