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Vodafone, BT and Virgin Media top sustainability list

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New analysis of sustainability credentials across the private sector has concluded that Vodafone, BT and Virgin Media are leading the TMT industry when it comes to their sustainability pledges.

The insight, compiled by waste management service Reconomy, analysed the sustainability pledges of 157 companies across 13 different industries to reveal those with the leading environmental commitments.

The data was acquired from Corporate Knights' Top 100 Most Sustainable Companies, cross-referenced with YouGov's highest ranked companies and contextualised with information scraped from Twitter and Linkedin accounts and individual business strategies. Once combined, it was used to determine which companies were pledging the most for a sustainable future.

The TMT industry clocked up a total of 471 sustainability mentions with the top three players named as Vodafone, BT and Virgin Media. They had a combined total of 417 mentions, while at the other end of the scale, Aol, Plusnet and TalkMobile had not made any pledges.

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Harvey Laud, divisional director at Reconomy, said: “Organisations are looking towards sustainability to produce a reformed focus for their businesses. Whilst the research is primarily an indication of which companies are leading the way in terms of ethical management; it does prove that all industries are pointing to a future where sustainability is a priority for all operations.

“This is being achieved through ethical production, smarter waste management, and understanding the long-term effects that businesses can have on the environment. Customers are demanding sustainability, and the best businesses are listening.”

Vodafone mentioned sustainability the most throughout its social media and business strategy: 238 times across its public and professional platforms. Overall, it ranked fourth out 157 while BT and Virgin Media followed with 125 and 54 mentions of sustainability, respectively.

Reconomy did not pick up any sustainable commitments from PlusNet across its social media or business strategy. The internet service provider ranked 142 out of the 157 organisations. AOL and Talkmobile also failed to mention any sustainable key terms across their platforms.

While commitments do not always lead to action, there is a second reason for the telecoms industry to celebrate: its sustainability practices do not place the onus on the end user in the same way those of many FMCG brands can do.

Reconomy said that, when compared to other industries, telecommunications had an "informative approach to sustainable pledges over a persuasive one".

"This is because a majority of ethical practices take place on the business end, rather than persuading the customer to complete ethical tasks. For example, where Coca-Cola ranks first in the rankings overall with 676 sustainable pledges across their platforms, their message asks customers to recycle. For telecommunications, sustainable practices must take place before the point of sale," it continued.

Laud added: “All sectors and industries have a part to play in creating a sustainable future for both their customers and the wider public. However, for the telecommunications sector, the benefits are widespread. Substituting old copper networks for newer fibre optic connections is more efficient in terms of energy consumption and reduces failures. The removed copper is also highly recyclable. Sustainable options are not limited to benefitting the planet, they can also help businesses grow.”

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