Reducing waste

Making our network and offices greener

We want to reduce the amount of waste we create, to reuse and recycle as much as we can, and to make sure that as little waste as possible ends up in landfill.

There are three main sources of waste in our business:

  • Our network of masts and associated equipment
  • Our offices and stores (paper, plastic and packaging)
  • Unwanted mobile phones, accessories, and other devices

Reduce and recycle

Making good use of old network equipment

When network equipment is no longer needed, we call in our specialist contractors to take care of it and make sure it doesn’t end up in landfill.

Vodafone’s policies on recovered equipment require that any equipment that still has a useful life is either stored for us for future use, or sold on our behalf.

Only equipment that cannot be reused is broken down into different recycling streams. Hazardous material is removed and materials from lead acid batteries are separated to produce bullion, gypsum and copolymer, which can all be resold. Acids are neutralised.

Any remaining non-hazardous materials are separated. Cardboard, aluminium and steel are recycled and returned to productive use. Plastics are incinerated to produce energy, and circuit boards are sent to a specialist refiner to recover precious metals including palladium, copper, gold and silver.

Reducing waste in our offices and stores

All our offices are equipped with bins for recyclable waste including paper, cardboard, plastic, and metal and all our old IT equipment is reused or recycled. We recycle waste oil from our restaurants, and fluorescent light tubes. To help our employees use less paper our printers are set to automatically print both sides and in black and white. We also encourage our employees to store everything electronically and take their laptops to meetings instead of using print-outs.

We recognise that sending waste for disposal is unsustainable – it destroys resources that could be used elsewhere and landfill space in the UK is running out fast. We currently divert around 60% of the waste from our stores, offices and network sites from landfill through recycling and incineration, and we continue to look for opportunities to improve our reuse and recycling rates. Strategies to achieve this include a renewed emphasis on waste minimisation in our offices, and improving our recycling rates.

Handsets and other devices

We encourage our customers to hold on to their mobile phones longer by offering SIM-only tariffs and we make sure we collect, reuse and recycle as many unwanted phones, devices and accessories as possible. Our aim is to keep them out of landfill where they could cause harm to the environment. Returned handsets can be refurbished and resold. If they can’t be reused, they are recycled.

Customers can get money back when they return their old phones through our Trade In scheme or customers can drop their old phones and accessories in to any store to be recycled with the proceeds going to social investment programmes supported by the Vodafone Foundation. An example is the Instant Network which brings communications back to disaster-hit areas – helping aid agencies and local people get in touch with loved ones. You can see a film about their work here


Our water usage for 2015/16 was 15% lower than the previous year at 174,875 m3 in total. This decrease is due to identifying and repairing water leaks and ongoing office refurbishment programmes. We have also engaged with external specialists to conduct water audits at our largest office sites which have provided us with further water saving initiatives to consider in the future.