Orange Romania is taking constant steps to reduce its emissions

Alina Oprea
Orange Romania is aligned with Orange Group's goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 and is implementing measures to monitor and optimize energy consumption while simultaneously increasing the use of electricity from renewable sources, says Teodora Toma, CSR Programs Coordinator at Orange Romania. She talked to Green Forum about the ESG objectives of Orange Romania and its commitment to a cleaner environment. She says that operating more sustainably has resulted in a reduction of approximately 4 GWh in the company's energy consumption in 2022. The company has collected approximately 395,000 old phones and many others in its Recycling boxes, a part of which being Refurbished. Orange Romania aims to have up to 20% refurbished phones in its offer by 2025.

What are the ESG objectives of Orange Romania?

As a responsible operator, our focus at Orange Romania is on implementing effective measures that contribute to the global battle against climate change. In this regard, reducing our carbon footprint is a priority for us, while encouraging our customers to adopt responsible behavior.

We are aligned with Orange Group's goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 and, to this end, we are implementing measures to monitor and optimize energy consumption while simultaneously increasing the use of electricity from renewable sources.

Additionally, we continue to promote and advance our circular economy program, “Re”, which represents our commitment to encouraging responsible behavior through the recycling, refurbishment, repairs, and returns of old phones, aiming to reduce our upstream and downstream emissions.

Equally significant for us is the ongoing effort to foster a corporate culture that is centered on sustainability. This means programs dedicated to the well-being of our colleagues, initiatives that motivate them to generate positive change in society, and training programs for a better understanding of environmental challenges.

On the social side, Orange's brand promise is to give everyone the keys to a responsible digital world. This purpose guarantees that in everything we do, digital technology is designed, made available, and used in a more meaningful, inclusive, and sustainable way. In Romania, we began this journey 26 years ago, when we launched our first educational initiative, the Orange Educational Program, aiming to support students from technical universities across the country to develop their skills and be better prepared for their future careers.

We also encourage the development of innovative entrepreneurs in Romania through Orange 5G lab and Orange Fab, offering them access to the latest technologies, mentoring, workspace in technology hubs, and exposure to clients.

Finally, and equally important, for the past 11 years, we have continued to support and endorse Orange Foundation's initiatives focused on fostering the development of vulnerable communities through the promotion of digital inclusion and education.  

What percentage of the contracts are concluded by the digital company?

The majority of our contracts across all our departments have been electronically signed well before the pandemic, as part of our efforts to enhance efficiency and decrease our paper consumption. At Orange, we are constantly seeking solutions to digitize processes across departments, investing in various technologies that assist us in streamlining and centralizing internal operations efficiently. These initiatives are not only aligned with our commitment to environmental sustainability but also enhance the overall efficiency of our internal processes.

Simultaneously, our customers can electronically sign their contracts and opt for the eBill. In this way, in the My Orange account, they can see the detailed bill at any time.

How does Orange Romania support the transition to a society with low carbon emissions?

We are aligned with Orange Group's strategic target to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040. This ambitious objective represents our commitment to a cleaner environment while continuing to integrate responsible and sustainable practices into every facet of our operations.

In terms of environmental impact, our priority is managing our energy consumption more responsibly. Over the past years, we have been systematically replacing older power sources and decommissioning outdated IT and network equipment at Orange facilities, substituting them with more energy-efficient alternatives. We have also implemented energy-saving solutions for our radio equipment, considering factors like technology, timing, and traffic patterns. The efforts of our teams are part of our commitment to operating more sustainably and have resulted in a reduction of approximately 4 GWh in our energy consumption in 2022.

To maximize the proportion of our energy consumption that comes from renewable sources in the next years, we have installed approximately 650 solar panels on 3 interconnection centers in Constanta, Brasov, and Timisoara, and on 133 network sites, with direct impact on reducing our emissions. Besides, in June we signed our first vPPA agreement with ENGIE Romania, marking the initial stride in our journey. Under this contract, signed for 6 years, we will cover 30GWh of our annual electricity needs

Also, in 2022 we were the first operator in Romania to launch a national circular economy initiative, the “Re” program, which is our invitation to our customers to get involved in more sustainable practices and support the emissions-reducing goal. Since its launch, we have collected approximately 395.000 old phones thanks to Returns (Buy-back) and many others in our Recycling boxes placed in all our stores, a part of which received a new life being Refurbished. Additionally, a second change is given to the approximately 4,000 phones that are brought in monthly by customers for Repair at our service centers.

Furthermore, our flagship store in Piata Victoriei is one of the first smart shops across the Orange Group that was redesigned at the end of September 2023 based on the “Re” concept. Our objective is not only to encourage our customers to make more sustainable choices through the 4 pillars of the program but also to get more familiar with EcoRating, the score that indicates the impact various phone models have on the environment. We aim to have up to 20% refurbished phones in our offer by 2025.

How did the company support the sustainable development of communities in Romania?

Contributing to the sustainable development of communities is a commitment that materializes through our constant investment in innovative digital solutions, aiming to empower smart cities and enhance the quality of life for citizens.

At the same time, the development of the 5G network is an important element of Orange's strategy to reduce its carbon footprint. From the outset, the 5G network has been designed to be more energy efficient than previous networks. This is possible because smart antennas activate on demand, transmitting the signal only to the mobile device that needs it, whereas 4G antennas transmit the signal over a wide area, regardless of need. At the same time, 5G antennas serve more users and consume significantly less power than 4G per Gb carried.

An important role of 5G technology is to help companies in the manufacturing and tertiary sectors reduce their energy consumption. 5G improves remote collaboration tools, reducing business travel, and enables the installation of connected sensors in buildings to reduce energy consumption. It also connects smart traffic control systems in smart cities to reduce emissions and pollution.

What amount does the company invest in facilitating access to education? How many Romanians will benefit from these investments?

We permanently ensure that our connectivity services are accessible and can adapt to the diverse needs of users, making their benefits an integral part of everyone's life. As technology facilitators, we provide information and tools for users, ensuring they use the digital environment to its fullest potential and avoid associated risks.

In terms of education initiatives, as I mentioned earlier, in 1997, Orange was among the companies that were breaking new ground in Romania, that of community involvement. The Orange Educational Program (OEP) is the first social responsibility initiative the company has implemented. Over the 26 years, Orange's investments in this OEP and the 5G research labs in Bucharest and Iasi are worth around €2 million. More than 1.400 students graduated from OEP and some of them have become the engineers who have propelled Romania to the top of Europe's connectivity performers and a benchmark in technological innovation.

Moreover, for 11 years, we have been supporting the Orange Foundation to bring positive changes in communities all around Romania. Over 6 million euros have been invested in the development and implementation of 5 strategic programs with national coverage supporting dozens of other initiatives dedicated to digital inclusion. This year, our colleagues launched the Orange Digital Center, a comprehensive digital education hub aimed at tech-savvy teenagers, young people at the start of their careers, or adults looking to retrain with digital skills.

Through these programs, the Foundation reaches more than 50.000 beneficiaries in Romania. 

How do you stimulate the sustainable growth of the company?

To drive sustainable company growth, we believe that beyond investing in innovative, efficient technologies and sustainable solutions, a company's development is intricately linked to the internal public's understanding of sustainability.

This approach not only enables us to measure and report our impact accurately but also guides us in taking proactive measures for sustainable development. We strongly believe that by cultivating a deep understanding of sustainability within our colleagues, we pave the way for a truly sustainable future for our company.

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Green Forum  |  20 June, 2024 at 8:04 AM