Environment

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Energy Management

Energy management is constantly evolving so we continue to explore new strategies and creative ways to work toward our goals and more efficiently manage the energy we use. Visibility and accountability, innovation and collaboration, and technology are the building blocks of our approach.

Visibility and accountability

In 2008, we developed energy scorecards that evaluate energy consumption and project activity. The scorecard generates an easy to understand “grade” for 2,000 of our largest energy-consuming sites. By sharing these grades with all facility managers and working toward creative ways to overcome challenges, we’ve seen greater interest in sharing innovate ideas to reduce energy use. Those ideas have contributed to the implementation of more than 40,000 energy efficiency projects resulting in annualized savings of $362 million from 2010-2015.

Innovation and collaboration

Energy efficiency projects with inherently compelling financials are relatively easy to execute. However, funding and implementing efficiency projects becomes more challenging when the financial returns are less compelling. Recognizing this, we developed the Savings Power Purchase Agreement (sPPA), a mechanism to fund efficiency upgrades without the need of upfront capital. Using the sPPA model, we pay a third-party vendor to install energy efficient equipment at our facilities, then pay that vendor a rate for every unit of electricity they are able to vaporize (eliminate). We have found this to be a successful model for hedging electricity rates and reducing electricity use with no upfront capital costs. Beyond financial innovations, we collaborate with other external organizations to help us further develop ideas that can enhance our energy management while benefiting the environment.

Technology

As a company that promotes technology to tackle challenges and create solutions, we are always looking for ways to better use technology to become more energy efficient. For example, Project iCON (Intelligent Connection of Facility Networks) uses our network to acquire valuable data from facility equipment across the country. We can then manage the data from a single, centralized point that allows us to create performance baselines, monitor equipment status and identify required maintenance actions in real time. This allows for significant savings on maintenance costs, in addition to reduction in unnecessary energy use. The implementation of Project iCON is helping to revolutionize the way we manage and ultimately reduce our energy usage.

Energy Savings

Since 2010, we’ve implemented more than 40,000 energy efficiency projects resulting in the annualized savings of $362 million from 2010 – 2015. In 2015, this included 15,050 projects that totaled an annualized savings of $119.1 million.

Energy Intensity

In 2008, we established an intensity metric to measure our electricity usage as compared to our network traffic growth. We did this to show progress in our efficiency efforts at a time when heavier network demands are driving higher electricity use.

Here is our progress to date:

Intensity Metric 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
MWh/ Petabyte 654 498 415 347 281 233 189 129
YOY Change -24% -17% -16.5% -19% -16.8% -18.9% -31.9%

Though AT&T has set an aggressive goal for reduction of electricity consumption in MWh per Petabyte of carried network data traffic, the combined efforts across all business units to manage our energy footprint and to transform our business have moved us toward our energy intensity goal even faster than anticipated. The 2020 goal set in 2013 allotted us seven years to produce a 60% reduction in our energy intensity. By the end of 2015, with only two years behind us, we have already reduced our energy intensity by 45%.

Alternative Energy

At the end of 2015, our alternative energy portfolio included 5.0 megawatts (MW) of solar installations and an additional 20.9 MW of clean, onsite fuel cell power from Bloom Energy Servers, for a total alternative energy capacity of 25.9 MW. These sources of power will produce 180.6 million kWh annually, which is equivalent to the electricity use of over 18,800 homes for a year, per the EPA Equivalencies Calculator. We also continue to participate in Austin Energy’s GreenChoice alternative energy program.

Solar

In 2015, we brought online one solar system in Long Beach, California, with 1,000 kW of capacity.

Fuel cells

In 2015, AT&T and Bloom Energy Corporation installed Bloom Energy servers at three additional sites in California and two in New Jersey. The solid oxide fuel cell technology provides reliable, affordable onsite power that reduces CO2 emissions by approximately 50% compared to the grid and virtually eliminates SOx, NOx and other harmful smog forming particulate emissions.

Wind

We are always exploring collaborative relationships to expand our alternative energy portfolio. In 2008, 10% of our electricity consumption for all AT&T facilities in Austin, Texas came through Austin Energy’s GreenChoice alternative energy program. We continue to source some of our power in Austin through this wind initiative. This effort helps us avoid 7.2 million kWh of fossil fuel-generated electricity each year.

Read more about our energy management programs.

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Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S)

We are committed to following the stringent environmental, health and safety regulations applicable to our operations, providing products and services in an environmentally responsible manner and protecting the health and safety of our employees within the jurisdictions in which we operate. Our operating companies had no significant environmental, health or safety compliance-related enforcement actions in 2015 (defined as those actions that resulted in sanctions equal to or exceeding $100,000). AT&T has a strong environment, health and safety management system - and it starts with an Environment, Health & Safety Policy signed by the AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson. AT&T has adopted an Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Management System based on the principles of International Standards Organization (ISO) 14001 and Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001. Please see our comparison table for alignment.

The EHS Management System provides a framework for AT&T to systematically manage its environmental risks and health & safety hazards, which will continually improve our operations, performance, and maintain the highest levels of commitment to the health and safety of our employees and the protection of our environment.

This system is intended to be used by AT&T employees, customers, and a range of other parties for the purpose of implementing the six elements of the management system to ensure compliance with external and internal objectives:

  • General Requirements: As mentioned above, our Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Management System is based on the principles of International Standards Organization (ISO) 14001 and Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001.
  • Environment, Health & Safety Policy: The AT&T Environment Health and Safety Policy is communicated throughout the enterprise, commits us to achieving compliance with EHS laws and regulations, continually improving our management systems, and achieving other non-regulatory-related EHS goals.
  • Planning: We identify the potential hazards, risks and impacts on the environment associated with our operations. Then we design and prioritize programs and processes to prevent or mitigate potential hazards and risks. Our planning involves establishing objectives and targets for evaluating potential EHS performance. We manage compliance by conducting job hazard analyses and occupational risk assessments; implementing a Management of Change (MOC) process; implementing business unit EHS Plans; and analyzing audit and assessment data.
  • Implementation & Operation: We implement these plans by assigning clear responsibility and accountability for EHS performance, defining clear roles and responsibilities within the EH&S Organization. We train AT&T employees and communicate EHS expectations to our vendors and contractors, providing EHS information both within and outside the enterprise.
  • Checking: AT&T routinely checks on our EHS performance by analyzing key performance measures and metrics covering aspects of EHS performance, and by reviewing business operations that impact EHS. When incidents or nonconformities with laws or company standards are identified, we have formal systems established to identify corrective actions and track these actions until they are completed.
  • Management Review: Senior leadership, such as the Executive Environmental Council, participates in regular reviews of AT&T’s EHS performance and programs. The council is a regular forum for senior leaders of AT&T business units to review their ongoing implementation of the AT&T environmental policy.

Our Code of Business Conduct specifically includes a section on creating a safe and secure place to work. Each employee — from our part-time workers to our CEO — is responsible for reviewing the code and understanding its provisions. In 2015, we accomplished an over 99.6% completion rate on our code training. We train all domestic employees on our EH&S Plan, and we conduct specialized training based on job tasks and the hazards an employee is likely to encounter in his or her position.

Read more about our Environmental, Health & Safety.

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Fleet

Alternative Fuel Vehicles

We are more than halfway through our commitment to deploy approximately 15,000 alternative-fuel vehicles (AFVs) through 2018. In 2009, we committed to invest up to $565 million to deploy AFVs, and we are making steady progress toward that goal. 

As of end of year 2015, AT&T deployed to its fleet a total of 11,257 alternative fuel vehicles, including: 3,146 hybrid-electric, all-electric and extended-range-electric vehicles, and 8,026 CNG service vehicles. The alternative fuel vehicles in service allowed us to avoid the purchase of 5.9 million gallons of unleaded gasoline in 2015 and 24.5 million gallons of unleaded gasoline cumulatively.

Read more about our fleet commitments.

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Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG)

We're committed to measuring and understanding our GHG emissions and taking steps to manage them. We've been measuring and disclosing our GHG emissions since 2008. These are our results for 2015.

Our GHG emissions decreased slightly in 2015 compared to 2014, both for Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.

For our 2015 greenhouse gas inventory, we obtained independent assurance of our Scope 1, 2 and 3 (business travel) emissions from Trucost. Their statement can be found in this Independent Accountant's Report. We believe it's important that the metric be accurate, and Trucost's increased rigor around this process helps us realize continual, year-over-year improvements in accuracy.

AT&T GHG Inventory, Year over Year chart

Scope 1 Direct Emissions

Direct emissions account for 11.8% of our total GHG emissions, a 4.2% decrease in 2015 compared to 2014 — primarily attributed to less natural gas consumption (winter 2015 was much more mild than 2014), and a decrease in fuel consumption for generators. Nearly 62% of our direct emissions come from our fleet. Our commitment to operate a more efficient and clean fleet through alternative-fuel vehicles (AFVs), anti-idling policies and telematics is helping to keep our Scope 1 emissions minimized even while we add vehicles to the fleet. Much of this progress has been a result of fuel efficiency gained from our adoption of 11,257 AFVs deployed through 2015 and operational efficiency. This is part of AT&T’s commitment to deploy approximately 15,000 AFVs through 2018.  Read more about our fleet initiatives.

Another large component of our direct emissions came from the stationary engines and portable generators that provide back-up power for AT&T. These generators are a critical component of AT&T’s Network Disaster Recovery organization, which works to keep wireless and wired communications flowing when disaster strikes. Generators also provide support for field operations where power is not available.

We have a goal to reduce our Scope 1 emissions 20 percent by 20201, using a 2008 Scope 1 baseline of 1,172,476 mtons CO2-e. We achieved 1,035,603 mtons CO2-e of Scope 1 emissions in 2015, which equates to an almost 12% reduction as compared to our 2008 baseline.

Scope 2 (Indirect Emissions)

Our scope 2 emissions account for more than 87% of our total GHG emissions. These come from purchased electricity and steam. We saw a decrease of nearly 7% on our Scope 2 emissions footprint, being driven primarily by decreases in our electricity footprint due to greater efficiency measures, maintaining updated emissions calculation methodologies and reducing our estimated data values, all while continuing to expand our network operations.

Normalizing our electricity use to the data carried on our network, we saw a 32% year-over-year decrease in megawatt hours per petabyte of data carried on our network. We were successful in reducing electricity consumption relative to data growth by 46% as compared to our baseline year of 2013.

Read about our energy management efforts.

Total 2015 Emissions by Source and Scope 1 Emissions by Source

Scope 3 (Other Emissions)

We continue to measure our business-related travel in our scope 3 emissions. We continue to measure our business-related travel in our scope 3 emissions. In 2015, AT&T’s Scope 3 business-related travel (combined air travel and rental car) increased by 55% compared to 2014. This significant increase is due to the application of updated emission factors and calculation methodology for business air travel under the application of the updated Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard. There is an increase in business travel emissions despite the slight decrease of total air miles traveled year-over-year.

We are applying the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard for tracking and reporting Scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions. To that end, we are working with the CDP Supply Chain Initiative and EcoDesk to collect the emissions from our top suppliers.

As a result of these efforts, in 2015 we were able to estimate three scope 3 supplier emissions categories: purchased goods and services, capital goods, and upstream transportation and distribution. This year we’ve been able to add an additional supplier emission category: the estimates for upstream transportation and distribution. These estimates are based on 2014 supplier emissions and supplier spend data using an economic allocation model. We continue to work with an outside auditing firm as part of a pre-assurance exercise to assess and improve our methodology, and we will apply lessons learned in future reporting years. Given the annual lag in supplier emissions availability, we are not including them in the overall 2015 scope 3 emissions total.

For additional detail about AT&T’s GHG emissions, please see our Methodology and Process Detail document.

Read more about our efforts to engage our supply chain.

Scope 3 2014 Supplier Emissions mtons CO2-e
Purchased Goods and Services* 2,232,264
Capital Goods* 257,430
Upstream Transportation and Distribution* 125,612
*Estimated for three categories only, based on economic allocation of 2014 supplier GHG emissions, revenue and spend data

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OSHA Incidents

Our goal is to provide a safe and healthy workplace for all employees — it’s an essential aspect of our Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) policy. We work diligently to protect our employees through the prevention of occupational injuries, illnesses and workplace incidents. We provide job-specific EH&S training to all employees based on established guidelines and record successfully completed courses in each employee’s training record.

In the event an accident does occur, it is our policy to respond swiftly and effectively to protect our employees, company assets, neighboring communities and the environment. We require employees to report all alleged work-related injuries, illnesses and accidents. We investigate such incidents and look for opportunities to implement process improvements. For U.S. operations in 2015, our OSHA total recordable occupational injury and illness rate was 1.62 per 100 employees. This rate is lower than the most recent average published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the telecommunications industry, which was 2.2 per 100 employees in 2014.2

Learn more about how we provide good jobs to our employees.

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Product Life Cycle

Cell Phone Recycling

AT AT&T, we're always striving to increase cell phone recycling and encourage our customers to be a part of this ongoing initiative. Because a phone's usable life doesn't end after its first owner, collecting these devices makes both business and environmental sense.

At AT&T, customers can recycle their old phones by:

  • Dropping them off at an AT&T retail store recycle bin
  • Taking advantage of the Trade-In Program with an AT&T retail associate or online at att.com/tradein
  • Returning their AT&T Next phone when they upgrade

In 2015, AT&T collected approximately 7.3 million cell phones for reuse and recycling and 706,971 pounds of batteries and accessories.

When our customers turn in a phone, our goal is to see if a phone can be reused. First, our priority is to protect our customer's privacy. We offer our customers tips and detailed information on wiping their devices before they return at www.att.com/recycle. As an additional protection to our customers, once we receive the device, we wipe it of customer-saved data as well. If the phone can be refurbished, we do so and put it back into the marketplace. This is beneficial from an environmental perspective, and it has the benefit of making phones more affordable to those who might not be able to purchase a new phone at full cost. If the phone can't be reused in its entirety, we take it apart and pull out individual parts that might be reusable: for example, the camera. The remaining plastics and metals are recycled responsibly. These materials end up in consumer products such as cell phones, PCs and tablets.

We also strive to engage our customers about sustainability at EcoSpace, an award-winning online hub that serves as a one-stop consumer site for sustainability information. Designed to motivate customers to participate in AT&T’s sustainability efforts such as paperless billing and phone recycling, AT&T EcoSpace also showcases eco-ratings for devices and accessories, as well as information on initiatives such as It Can Wait®, support for the military and our commitment to education.

Read more about cell phone recycling at AT&T.

Packaging & Materials

At AT&T, we are working to improve our product packaging throughout its life cycle, including material reuse and reduction, use of environmentally friendly materials from renewable sources, increasing recycled content and end-of-life recyclability, and improving transportation efficiency. We are beginning to use a life-cycle approach to evaluate impacts of packaging changes on key sustainability metrics such as energy and water use, greenhouse gas emissions and packaging waste. We strive to ensure that the changes made do minimize the environmental impacts of packaging.

Learn more about our packaging efforts.

AT&T Eco-Rating

In 2012, we launched our Eco-Rating system, an easy-to-understand rating that serves as a way for consumers to make more informed choices by allowing them to better understand environmental and social factors associated with their devices. Announced during the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show, AT&T took our established mobile device eco-rating system a step further with the implementation of Eco-Rating 2.0. The refreshed eco-ratings offer consumers a look into the environmental and social profiles of their AT&T-branded mobile devices. A device is assessed on 20 criteria to determine how it stacks up on our 1-5 star scale. Consumers can find a device’s eco-rating icon on the package, in-store or online.

Watch this video to learn about the expansion of Eco-Ratings or visit AT&T EcoSpace.

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Supply Chain

For a company to fully understand its economic, environmental and social impact, it needs to understand the impacts and opportunities related to its supply chain. We believe it is important to understand more about the social, economic and environmental performance of our suppliers, and expect our suppliers to share our commitment to citizenship and sustainability (C&S). We engage our suppliers in some the following ways:

Principles of Conduct for Suppliers

We outline our expectations in our Principles of Conduct for Suppliers, which cover topics including sustainable business practices, diversity, conflict minerals, ethics and labor rights. 

Conflict Minerals

We’ve actively sought to address the issue of conflict minerals from the conflict zones. Our Principles of Conduct for Suppliers address conflict minerals and confirm AT&T’s expectations that the products we sell will not contain conflict minerals that directly or indirectly finance or benefit armed groups. We reserve the right to suspend or terminate suppliers who fail to demonstrate commitment to this expectation.

As a large device retailer, we encourage the responsible mining of these minerals. We have taken the following steps to address these issues:

  • We do not employ forced, compulsory or slaved labor and have the same expectation for our suppliers. We have a Human Rights Policy and Principles of Conduct for Suppliers that are clear in this respect.
  • We remain involved in this issue through our membership in the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI). Through that membership and our participation in both the Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI) and the GeSI Extractives Project Team, we support the continued development of the Conflict-Free Smelter Program and the use of the CFSI Conflict Minerals Reporting Template. Through continued collaboration with suppliers, we are committed to the responsible mining of these minerals.
  • In October 2011, we joined as a participant in the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade (PPA) — an alliance set up by the U.S. State Department, USAID, NGOs and company/industry organizations to address conflict minerals concerns. It promotes solutions to encourage those involved in responsible minerals trade in the DRC and the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa.

AT&T has taken rigorous steps to determine the extent to which it may have reporting obligations under Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the SEC’s rules implementing that Act (SEC Conflict Minerals Rules). With respect to the products we sell, AT&T has put in place the following ongoing activities to identify potential reporting obligations:

  • A comprehensive conflict minerals (CM) program, which serves as the documented framework in which AT&T performs the steps required to determine the applicability of, and be in compliance with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s rules on Conflict Minerals.
  • A working team that addresses the day-to-day activities associated with complying with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s rules on Conflict Minerals.
  • A governance committee that reviews and provides general guidance on conflict minerals compliance activities.
  • An AT&T officer steering committee that provides oversight, guidance and accountability.

To date, AT&T has not had a reporting obligation pursuant to the SEC Conflict Minerals Rules. AT&T will continue to execute the CM Program annually to identify any potential changes to our filing status.

Read more about our efforts on conflict minerals.

Human Rights and Labor Practices

As reflected in our Principles of Conduct for Suppliers, we take issues around labor practices and human rights in our supply chain seriously.

AT&T addresses human rights throughout our supplier engagement. AT&T Supply Chain has developed a Supplier Human Rights and Labor Practices Program. As part of that program suppliers accounting for 80 percent of our annual spend receive the AT&T Supplier Sustainability Survey annually. The survey covers general questions on both human rights and labor practices. Because we are a non-manufacturing service carrier, we look to our product manufacturers to demonstrate that they have rigorous human rights programs and labor practices in their manufacturing operations. The annual AT&T Supplier Sustainability Assessment discussed above is a key tool to obtain this important information.

We also communicate our human rights policy directly to our suppliers. It is posted on AT&T’s Supplier Portal, along with other policies and materials that explain our supply chain sustainability approach.

U.S. EPA SmartWay Program

AT&T strives to minimize the environmental impact of transportation by designing and optimizing its transportation and distribution network via route planning, consolidation and shipping full truckloads when possible. AT&T’s involvement in the SmartWay program requires us to benchmark and measure progress in our transport emissions management. This helps us further integrate energy efficiency, air quality and climate change initiatives into our transportation decision-making process. The program will also provide support to identify potential additional carbon reductions and cost savings opportunities in our distribution network

This work has included better route planning and transport optimization, consolidation of network field technician deliveries, ensuring full loads and avoiding empty trips, and incorporating alternative-fuel vehicles. In 2015, more than 99.8% of the miles covered by third-party carriers for AT&T were done by carriers that participate in the EPA SmartWay program. We use SmartWay participation as a factor when evaluating potential carriers. To learn more, read about our Company Fleet and Transportation initiatives.

Sustainability Clauses

All of our model supply chain-managed material and services agreements contain a standard Citizenship and Sustainability clause that requires the suppliers to align with AT&T’s Principles of Conduct for Suppliers, and to respond to sustainability-related information requests from AT&T. The clause is standard in all new master agreements as of 2011; AT&T has executed thousands of agreements that contain the clause. We also have several clauses in our contract library that cover sustainability considerations such as energy efficiency.

Contract Manager Training

We train our contract managers, more than 200 sourcing professionals, about sustainability in the supply chain and are providing the tools necessary to engage our strategic suppliers on sustainable business practices. We focus on how the contract managers can work with suppliers to ensure that the suppliers respond to our sustainability survey, with intention to help suppliers improve their performance and scores. As a result we are seeing greater awareness and participation by our suppliers.

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1 For the purpose if tracking progress toward our goal, we are holding refrigerants, engines and portable generators steady in an effect to align performance with actual emissions changes and avoid an inaccurate representation of our progress.

2 http://www.bls.gov/news.release/osh.t01.htm

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