Euro telecoms firms report on environment

Etno assesses industry's environmental management systems, energy efficiency

The telecommunications industry will play a "significant role" in future debates on achieving sustainable development in Europe, European telecommunications association Etno has pledged. Etno launched a first environmental report for the sector at a recent conference in Italy, assessing environmental management systems in 21 European companies.

The report looks at members who have signed a telecoms industry environmental charter, launched in 1996. Half of the association's 44 European members have now signed up, including all EU-based firms. The bulk of the report focuses on how far the signatories have implemented the charter's objectives, which are: awareness of environmental impact; regulatory compliance; research and development; procurement; providing information and environmental management systems. It also includes some examples of companies' environmental initiatives.

Etno is hoping that the combination of the charter and industry-wide environmental reports will encourage more companies to pay more attention to environmental matters. Of the charter signatories, nearly half have an environmental management system in place. About 14% have a system that is "comprehensive and systematic." Over 70% have appointed an environmental manager, and 43% have translated their environmental policy into environmental objectives. Whilst 71% of the companies take environmental considerations into account when developing new products and services, only 14% do it in a systematic manner.

The report also shows that nearly a quarter of companies have an internal communication system to generate awareness of environmental issues. However, an equal number do not. Regarding provision of information to customers, 19% of companies provide an information exchange, 24% provide one-way information and 57% provide little or no information.

The 1997 report includes only two quantitative indicators of environmental impacts, but Etno aims to include more in future. The association assesses energy efficiency by calculating the average annual consumption of fuel and electricity per unit of turnover. For fuel the figure was 2.479 litres per Ecu1000, for electricity it was 0.094 MWh per Ecu1000.

Follow Up:
ETNO, tel: +32 2 219 3242. References: "Connecting with the Environment: Environmental Report 1997".

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