Caring for the planet
We are focused on the health of our planet to make the world a better place. We implement solutions that generate net positive benefits, socially and environmentally, for our team, our company and society.
TELUS has a strong foundation of climate governance, led by our Board and Corporate Governance Committee, which oversees our work to reduce GHG emissions and take action on climate change. This focus includes developing and implementing effective strategies, assessing and managing risks (including climate-related risks), setting targets and objectives as well as reporting on our progress and performance.
The Sustainability and Environmental Risk Management Team at TELUS integrates the following framework to reduce our climate impacts:
Mitigation: focusing on absolute energy use and carbon dioxide equivalent (CO₂e) emission reduction
Adaptation: focusing on business continuity planning and readiness for the potential physical risks of a changing climate on our operations
Innovation: to help customers realize their climate change targets through product and service solutions
Committing to carbon neutrality is part of a growing global narrative to reduce human impacts on climate change – one of the greatest systemic risks of our future. In 2011, we initiated our first set of long-term energy and GHG emission reduction goals and surpassed them in early 2019, ahead of our 2020 target. We have since examined our performance and set new transformational targets that reflect our continued commitment. Our new targets include:
Having our operations become net carbon neutral by 2030
Procuring 100 per cent of our electricity requirements from renewable sources by 2025
Improving our energy efficiency (MWh per terabyte of data) by 50 per cent from 2020 levels by 2030
Setting science-based targets in 2020, which will be achieved by 2030
reduction is our goal for improving our energy efficiency (MWh per terabyte of data) by 2030
of CO₂e avoided through energy reduction as a result of upgrading our HVAC chillers at our Edmonton network facilities
reduction in absolute energy consumption compared to 2018
Our energy footprint consists of direct energy and indirect energy for domestic owned and leased real estate properties, cell tower sites, vehicle fleet, and remote generator fuel that are within our operational control as well as our international operations. In 2019, we reduced our absolute energy consumption by 4.2 per cent compared to 2018. We were able to realize absolute reductions while achieving customer growth and reduce our energy consumption related operational costs.
In 2017, TELUS signed a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to procure all of the renewable electricity from a 15 MW solar facility in Brooks, Alberta. This facility adds approximately 24,000 MWhs of renewable electricity annually to Alberta’s electricity grid. As part of that agreement, we own and annually realize all renewable energy credits generated by the facility. In 2019, TELUS negotiated and signed another PPA to procure renewable wind energy from a grid-scale wind farm, with no government subsidies, becoming the first corporation in Canada to do so. This long-term agreement for renewable energy from the 117.6 MW Rattlesnake Ridge wind farm in Alberta is scheduled to begin generating energy in December 2021. Our investments in renewable energy will help us sustainably grow our core business.
The future deployment of 5G technology and growing customer demand for data through wireline and wireless technology, will increase energy requirements, presenting a challenge to reduce energy use and related GHG emissions. In 2020, we will focus on continuing to transition to renewable energy sources where feasible and implementing further energy reduction initiatives. This will include ongoing network optimization, network infrastructure upgrades and lighting retrofits.
In 2019, we reduced our absolute GHG emissions by 5.6 per cent compared to 2018. We further reduced our net impact by 5.1 per cent with the realization of EcoLogo certified Renewable Energy Credits generated by the Brooks Solar facility in Alberta.
For the past several years, we have reported emissions linked to employee business travel and employee commuting. We continue to seek process improvements so that we can better capture data that will help us develop strategies and actions to reduce and report on these emissions.
In 2019, we expanded our employee commuter survey to provide further insight into modes of transportation used by our team and leveraged additional data from our People and Culture Team to gain a more accurate analysis of employee working days. Results from the survey continued to demonstrate that our Work Styles® program helps reduce our environmental footprint. In 2019, we saved over 20,000 tonnes of CO₂e by enabling employees to work from home.
Responsible resource use
When waste is disposed of or recycled in a safe, ethical, and responsible manner, it helps reduce harmful impacts on the environment. At TELUS, we are not only working to divert our waste, but also encouraging waste minimization.
Our long-term vision is to become a zero waste company. To reach this goal, we have set a number of short-term targets. These include achieving:
A five per cent annual reduction in total materials discarded (landfill and recycling) from our real estate assets
A 65 per cent diversion of waste from our real estate assets by 2025
An 80 per cent diversion of waste from our real estate assets by 2030
An 85 per cent diversion of waste from reverse logistics (network materials) by 2025
A 95 per cent diversion of our waste from reverse logistics by 2030
Paper and packaging reduction strategy
TELUS has a target to reduce paper and packaging consumption by 10 per cent year-over-year, as well as source 100 per cent of purchased copy paper from tree-free sources. Our focus on e-billing, digital marketing and reduced packaging helped us to reduce our paper and packaging consumption by 36 per cent in 2019, which exceeded our target. In addition, we reduced our copy paper purchases by 21 per cent compared to 2018.
Over the past decade, we have reduced our annual sheet use per employee from over 1,500 to just 275. In 2019, we also achieved a rate of 93 per cent of total copy paper purchases that contained 30, 50 or 100 per cent post-consumer recycled content or that were completely tree-free.
Part of our success in paper reduction can be attributed to the growth in e-bill adoption by customers. In 2019, 84 per cent of wireless and 65 per cent of wireline customers opted to receive paperless bills. Ongoing investment in our digital billing experience aims to reduce customer effort and improve self-serve options across mobility and home services while reducing the need for paper.
Trees for Paper program
For the paper and packaging that we do consume, we offset the use by planting trees in collaboration with Tree Canada. In 2019, we planted these trees in the Yuneŝit’in First Nation territory in B.C., and in 2018, we planted trees in Oak River, Manitoba. Planting trees in our communities helps to capture carbon, create natural forest restoration, provide oxygen and enhance wildlife habitat for generations to come. For an overview of the program, watch our video here. In 2020, we will continue to execute on identified priorities to help us achieve our targets, we will onboard the remaining suppliers to our sustainable paper and packaging policy, and we will further increase our impact by engaging with Canadian youth to promote the importance of tree planting.
Efficient water use is critically important to our overall sustainability goals. Although our water consumption is relatively small in comparison to other industries, we are continuously working to identify new projects and initiatives to reduce our use. Our water sources include municipal water supplies or other water utilities, and although we employ rainwater harvesting at certain sites, the percentage of water reused or recycled is unknown. Our main sources of water consumption are from our heating and cooling systems as well as office building water usage. Our decrease in water usage in comparison to 2018, as demonstrated in the table below, is a result of multiple water efficiency projects, including the installation of newer and more efficient HVAC equipment. In 2020, upon completion of a full assessment on our water data, we will set a new water efficiency target.
Environmental management system
Our Environmental Management System (EMS) provides the foundation for all of our environmental sustainability initiatives. In 2019, TELUS completed the required external audits to certify our EMS to the updated ISO 14001:2015 standard. Maintaining this ISO standard positions us as a global leader in environmental excellence and creates ongoing opportunities for improvements to our environmental management processes.