Reducing our environmental footprint

(c) Tigo Paraguay - 2017

(c) Tigo Paraguay - 2017

First published: 2017 Annual Report 

Reducing our environmental footprint holds the potential for us to become a leaner and more innovative business, whilst contributing to the protection and wise use of the natural systems and resources we depend on.

During 2017, our greatest areas of focus were on improving energy efficiency and increasing the reach of our e-waste program. Our global efficiency program HEAT (launched 2016) provided the framework within which several initiatives have been deployed.

These projects are diverse, but they can be grouped in three main, often overlapping, categories:

• Technology modernization: we are moving to more efficient technologies, which have inherently lower energy consumption, such as LED lighting;
• Improved programming and planning: this allows for smarter equipment setup, which enables energy savings through adjustments made in consumption to accommodate real-time demand; and
• Smart architecture: this entails the reconfiguration of our network layout to reduce environmental footprint and lower the consumption of energy through more efficient network access.

Our initiatives have enabled us to keep operational expenses as stable as possible whilst almost doubling our network, maintaining the same or better levels of service.

The benefits of achieving network growth without a proportional increase of energy consumption (and its related costs) range from environmental to financial. 

Furthermore, several of our operations are implementing projects of varying scales involving the increase of alternative energy sources. 

This not only allows us to reduce our carbon emissions, but also to achieve greater coverage, stability and continuity despite potential outages in the grid or remote locations.

Electronic waste management program  Given the rapid growth of the industry in which we operate and the importance of electronics for all our business areas, we have an undeniable responsibility to care for the end-of-life of these electronics.

By partnering with ethical and committed local e-waste suppliers, we are effectively protecting natural resources by reducing the need for extraction of raw materials, ensuring toxic substances are not released into the environment and additionally, we are guarding ourselves against possible corporate fines imposed for dumping hazardous waste.

Minimizing electronic waste is a key aspect of reducing our environmental footprint. It prevents the accumulation of waste that may contain hazardous materials and prevents pollution. In addition, it reduces natural resource depletion by recovering valuable materials that would otherwise end up discarded.

For the period from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017, over 2,496 tonnes of e-waste were recycled, more than tripling the amount of the previous reporting period which, in turn, had more than tripled the baseline in 2015.

Total weight of e-waste recycled through our responsible e-waste management program

2017 = 2,496 tonnes
2016 = 882 tonnes
2015 = 179 tonnes

To be eligible for the e-waste disposal process, the suppliers that provide us with this service must meet several criteria.

Their score in the EcoVadis tool, is used to assess their sustainability performance, and reflects whether e-waste is disposed of correctly and in compliance with applicable local laws.

Ensuring the right framework for environmental stewardship                            In 2017, we focused on updating and implementing our core Environmental Policy and Standards enabling us to establish a clear governance structure to manage our environmental impact and outline the roles and responsibilities for each function whilst protecting the environment.

Our corporate offices were certified to the ISO 14001 management system and all operating entities have an environmental management system established, with Honduras and Paraguay having been certified during 2017.

What we learned this year
We are proud of the progress achieved during the year in our efforts to consolidate our efficiency programs and in finding alternative ways to positively mitigate our impacts. Next year, we plan to standardize the procedures across the region and scale some of the pilot projects launched during the year. There are many opportunities on which we can capitalize and we will further explore using Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart services.

As in other parts of our business, we face environmental challenges, which affect the way in which we operate. By making use of new technologies and innovation, we can help to better address the environmental issues affecting our business.

At Millicom we are ready to continue our mission and build digital highways in a sustainable manner.