Our Planet
    01 December 2020


    Preserving the planet

    This year Vodacom initiated many projects and initiatives to help reduce the impact on the environment. 

    Vodacom realises that economic growth does not need to come at the cost of the planet. With this in mind, we strive to minimise the environmental impact of our business activities. Our biggest environmental impacts come from the consumption of energy to power our operations, generation of waste, and consumption of water in office buildings. We take measures to reduce these environmental impacts and explore opportunities to use our technologies to help our customers minimise their own impacts.

    Our network is the biggest consumer of energy and we proactively take measures to invest in energy efficiency projects and use renewable energy wherever feasible to reduce our energy consumption.

    The Raptor project uses the capabilities of the Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor operating conditions at the base stations, which reduce the reliance on air-conditioners ultimately reducing energy consumption. Implemented at 3 700 base stations in South Africa, we are looking to expand this solution to a further 5 000 sites.

    Through projects like these and others, Vodacom has realised the following cost savings and reduction in environmental impacts:

    • Total energy costs saved in the 2020 financial year: R24.8 million.
    • GHG emission reductions 17 607 tCO2e (this is the additional GHG’s that would have been emitted in the 2020 financial year, if we had not invested in energy efficiency initiatives).
    • Total electricity saved in the 2020 financial year 16 372MWh.                                           

    Vodacom’s Property Portfolio has seen a consistent year-on-year decline in energy consumption over the last 8 years with an estimated total drop of 40 GWh since 2012. This significant decline in energy consumption is the result of the implementation of key projects including:

    • Building Refurbishments.
    • Property Rationalisation and Consolidation.
    • Smart Building Technologies.
    • Renewable energy supply.

    These projects have yielding energy and cost savings, as well as a reduced impact on the environment:

    • GWh of electricity saved at our buildings in the 2020 financial year.
    • 8.8 million reduction in our electricity cost in the 2020 financial year.
    • 5 564 mtCO2e GHG emissions reduced in our buildings in the 2020 financial year.

    Vodacom Business is helping customers and the government to reduce their energy consumption.

    Our IoT solutions enable objects or devices such as cars, traffic or streetlights, and buildings to send and receive real-time information via our network. This information enables our enterprise and business customers to gain insight into how their resources are being utilised. This in turn can help them to cut costs and carbon emissions, for example, by reducing their energy and fuel use and thus improving the efficiency of their operations.

    Vodacom offers technology solutions for monitoring water and energy consumption, which highlights wastage through excessive or abnormal usage.

    At the end of FY20, Vodacom Business has the following IoT connections:

    • 3 000 commercial electricity smart meters.
    • 7 250 residential electricity smart meters.
    • 483 004 smart logistics and fleet management capabilities.

    These IoT connections have resulted in carbon savings of approximately 224 004 mtCO2e in FY20.

    Reducing, reusing and recycling waste

    Vodacom have adopted the steps of the waste hierarchy in our decision-making and management of equipment from the network. Since 2016 Vodacom began testing our redundant equipment in an effort to identify the feasibility of extending its useful life. In this way, we have extended the useful life of network equipment by re-introducing more than  308 tons of network equipment into the network across the Group in regions where the equipment was needed. In addition, more than 367 tons of batteries were rejuvenated and re-introduced into the network which reduced the need to purchase new batteries in all of our operating markets during the year.

    Once all reuse options are exhausted, we apply the next phase of the waste hierarchy which is to recycle all obsolete equipment. In the year 977 tons of equipment was sent for recycling at approved recycling agencies within the Group. In South Africa, Vodacom has appointed three SMME’s to manage the recycling of electronic waste in the country. At no point in the waste management process does any network waste end up at a landfill site.

    Obsolete batteries, classified as hazardous waste, follow a separate process. The batteries that cannot be rejuvenated or reused, are sent to a licensed facility for incineration. In the year, 1 189 tons of batteries were disposed of responsibly. The large increase since the previous year is due to the increase in lead-acid batteries that were scrapped due to the installation of new lithium-ion batteries, which are less harmful to the environment.

    Water-saving initiatives 

    Vodacom is aware that South Africa is one of the 30 driest countries in the world.  Vodacom is not a water-intensive user and the company consumes on average 161 mega litres of water a year in our operations. In response to the water shortages experienced in the country, Vodacom continues to implement water-saving measures which include waterless urinals; chemical flushing of toilets, waterless hand sanitising stations, and aeration taps with reduced water flow in our Vodacom offices. Vodacom will also be phasing out the use of water fountains at our Head Office in Midrand in FY21.

    Water-saving initiatives over the years have resulted in a 63% decline in water usage since 2015.

    These water-saving projects include:

    • Introducing water-wise gardens and indigenous plants in our gardens on campus.
    • Implementing a rainwater harvest dam at our offices in Midrand.
    • Retrofitting urinals in bathrooms.
    • Installing short cycle aerator taps in bathrooms.
    • Making optimal use of existing boreholes on our campus facilities.
    • Introducing a ground-water harvesting project at our Century City Offices.
    • Installation of plumbed-in water coolers in all kitchenettes.

    On June 15 2020, Vodacom Group published its annual Sustainability Report together with its annual Integrated Report. These reports highlight the Group’s economic, social, environmental and governance performance for the period 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020, inclusive of operations in South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Lesotho.