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Waste Management

Materiality Assessment Topics: E-waste; Hazardous and waste

Issue Summary

Business operations produce waste throughout their value chains. This waste can be minimized on the front end by increasing operational efficiency and on the back end through recycling and responsible disposal.

Our Position

We seek to minimize waste throughout our operations—from the buildings we occupy to the services and devices we sell.

Data Highlights

2016 Key Performance Indicators
  • Solid waste from network infrastructure as managed by global supply chain
    • Network “scrap” materials kept out of landfills:  >51.1 million pounds
    • Operational waste handled by the Investment Recovery Center that is kept from landfill: more than 96%
  • Solid non-hazardous waste from office activity
    • Office activity material (paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum, plastic) diverted from landfills: 26,411 tons
    • Percent of non-hazardous office waste diverted from landfills: 29.5%
  • Regulated waste
    • Waste managed by the AT&T Resource Recovery Center (including universal and hazardous waste): 34,541.63 tons
    • Regulated waste recycled: 29,824.72 tons
  • Electronics
    • Number of computers, monitors, servers and other equipment that were donated, recycled or reused: more than 68,000 units

Our Action

We are committed to reducing waste in our operations and responsibly handling the waste that we produce.

Solid Waste from Operations

The AT&T Global Supply Chain Investment Recovery group works across all entities and affiliates of the company to reuse, sell and recycle materials (including operational waste, network materials and scrap) that are considered solid waste. In 2016, the group sent less than 4% of the materials it received to landfills.

In 2016, the Global Supply Chain Investment Recovery group handled in excess of 52.9 million pounds of operational waste and kept more than 51.1 million pounds of these materials from landfills, including:

  • Copper and copper cable: 17 million pounds
  • Steel: 8.3 million pounds
  • Lead: 1.1 million pounds
  • Plastic: 2.9 million pounds
  • Aluminum: 860,000 pounds

This group strives to recycle more than 95% of all the material received by our reclamation centers and qualified disposition suppliers. The AT&T Global Supply Chain Investment Recovery group continues to pursue viable recycling options for items previously sent to landfills.

In 2016, the group continued to expand its program and expertise to assist international groups, wireless and other AT&T entities in the proper disposal of electronic, network, cable and other assets.

Solid Non-Hazardous Waste from Office Activity

In 2016, our total solid non-hazardous (office activity material) waste was estimated at 89,487 tons. 29%, or 46,411 tons, was diverted from landfills in 2016—up from 26% the previous year.

The facilities generating non-hazardous waste include administrative, retail, warehouse and work center facilities, in addition to some larger network facilities, which represent the vast majority of our office waste generation. At the identified sites, we estimate our administrative waste (mixed materials such as paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminum and glass) generated and diverted. Office recycling is now available in nearly 4,600 facilities, resulting in the recycling of more than 10.4 million pounds of office-grade paper.

Regulated Waste

In 2016, the AT&T Resource Recovery Center managed more than 34,000 tons of regulated and non-regulated waste.i We recycled more than 29,000 tons of this waste.


We are committed to managing electronic waste in a responsible manner. Directed by policy, the AT&T Global Supply Chain Investment Recovery group directs all e-waste collected for recycling to vendors that are R2 certified. In 2016, we generated 1.9 million pounds of e-waste, plus an additional 2.7 million pounds of set-top boxes. The Investment Recovery group collected more than 68,000 computers, monitors, servers and other office equipment for sale and/or recycling. This included:

  • Approximately 15,000 desktop computers
  • More than 19,000 monitors
  • More than 6,000 laptop computers
  • More than 28,000 other related components
  • More than 1.4 million outdated customer set-top boxes

Additionally, we manage programs to reclaim and divert high-value network resources such as copper telecommunications wire and central office equipment.

Product End of Life

At AT&T, we strive to increase mobile device recycling and encourage our customers to be a part of this ongoing initiative. Because a device’s reusable life doesn’t end after its first owner, collecting these devices makes both business and environmental sense. In 2016, we collected 6.98 million devices for reuse and recycling.

AT&T is also committed to recycling customers’ electronics from our DIRECTV and U-verse subscribers. In 2016, more than 9 million DIRECTV set-top boxes were refurbished and another 2.7 million were recycled. Since 2007, more than 58 million DIRECTV set-top boxes have been refurbished and more than 17 million have been recycled.

Similarly, through U-verse, more than 2.8 million set-top boxes were recycled in 2016—bringing the overall number of U-verse set-top boxes recycled to more than 9.7 million units.

To ensure responsible recycling, our device recycling vendors are R2 certified. The R2 Standard for electronics recycling and refurbishment facilities covers areas such as worker health and safety, environmental protection, chain-of-custody reporting and data security.

Read more about our product recycling and reuse and packaging waste reduction efforts.


i This does not include normal refuse handled by solid waste vendors for disposal or used/retired treated wood utility poles, but does include water removed and managed from underground vaults not located on AT&T property.

Updated on: Jun 21, 2018