AT&T Issue Briefs

Our issue briefs provide additional details on topics identified as most important by our stakeholders. View all the issue briefs on the Reporting Library for a comprehensive overview or choose an issue in the drop-down menu.

 


ESG Material Issues
Hazardous & solid waste

ESG Material Issues
E-waste; Hazardous and solid waste

 

 

Our Position

 

We seek to minimize waste throughout our operations – from the buildings we occupy to the services and products we sell to customers.


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Key Performance Indicators¹
2017
2018
2019²
2020²
2021²
Total domestic waste managed by AT&T (MT)³
2017201,395
2018191,865
2019²245,645
2020²199,749
2021²187,302 (est.)
Total waste recycled/reused (MT)³
201767,585
201872,412
2019²91,995
2020²80,008
2021²73,974 (est.)
Percent total waste recycled/reused³
201733.56%
201837.74%
2019²37.45%
2020²40.05%
2021²39.50% (est.)
NONHAZARDOUS WASTE
2017
2018
2019²
2020²
2021²
Total domestic nonhazardous waste generated (MT)
2017--
2018191,703
2019²245,620
2020²199,714
2021²187,133 (est.)
Percent domestic nonhazardous waste generated
2017--
201899.92%
2019²99.99%
2020²99.98%
2021²99.91% (est.)
Total nonhazardous waste recycled (MT)
2017--
201872,323
2019²91,958
2020²78,995
2021²73,557 (est.)
Percent nonhazardous waste recycled
2017--
201837.69%
2019²37.44%
2020²39.55%
2021²39.27% (est.)
Total nonhazardous waste sent to landfill (MT)
2017--
2018116,024
2019²152,707
2020²117,698
2021²111,900 (est.)
Percent nonhazardous waste sent to landfill
2017--
201860.47%
2019²62.17%
2020²58.92%
2021²59.84% (est.)
Total nonhazardous waste incinerated (MT)
2017--
20189.80
2019²2.49
2020²2.10
2021²0.5 (est.)
Percent nonhazardous waste incinerated
2017--
20180.005%
2019²0.001%
2020²0.001%
2021²0.001% (est.)
Total nonhazardous waste composted (MT)⁴
2017--
2018--
2019²--
2020²1,296
2021²872 (est.)
Percent nonhazardous waste composted⁴
2017--
2018--
2019²--
2020²0.65%
2021²0.47% (est.)
Total nonhazardous waste reused (MT)⁴ ⁵
2017--
2018--
2019²--
2020²999
2021²285 (est.)
Percent nonhazardous waste reused⁴ ⁵
2017--
2018--
2019²--
2020²0.50%
2021²0.15%
Other nonhazardous waste, not specified (MT)⁵ ⁶
2017--
2018--
2019²952.51
2020²724
2021²519 (est.)
Percent other nonhazardous waste, not specified⁵ ⁶
2017--
2018--
2019²0.39%
2020²0.36%
2021²0.28% (est.)
HAZARDOUS WASTE
2017
2018
2019²
2020²
2021²
Total domestic hazardous waste generated (MT)
2017--
2018162.2
2019²24.89
2020²35.51
2021²168.81 (est.)
Percent domestic hazardous waste generated
2017--
20180.08%
2019²0.01%
2020²>0.01%
2021²0.09% (est.)
Total hazardous waste recycled (MT)⁷
2017--
201879.96
2019²4.84
2020²13.9
2021²132.01 (est.)
Percent hazardous waste recycled⁷
2017--
201849.30%
2019²19.45%
2020²39.14%
2021²78.20% (est.)
Total hazardous waste sent to landfill (MT)⁷
2017--
201857.23
2019²0.00
2020²0.10
2021²15.93 (est.)
Percent hazardous waste sent to landfill⁷
2017--
201834.28%
2019²0.00%
2020²0.28%
2021²9.44% (est.)
Total hazardous waste incinerated (MT)⁷
2017--
20182.37
2019²1.54
2020²0.50
2021²1.32 (est.)
Percent hazardous waste incinerated⁷
2017--
20181.46%
2019²6.19%
2020²1.41%
2021²0.78% (est.)
Other hazardous waste, not specified (MT)⁷ ⁸
2017--
201822.70
2019²18.50
2020²21.01
2021²19.55 (est.)
Percent other hazardous waste, not specified⁷ ⁸
2017--
201814.00%
2019²74.33%
2020²59.17%
2021²11.58% (est.)

 

All 2021 data are estimated. Final values will be available in Q2 2022. Additionally, please note that waste data may not be complete due to the challenge of getting all business unit (BU) direct vendor hires to upload final shipping documents to the central waste tracking system. Our Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) team is continually working with BUs to ensure vendors submit all final shipping documents to the central tracking system for reporting.  

2019–2021 data inclusive of AT&T Communications and select WarnerMedia and Xandr locations. DIRECTV is also included in all data through the end of 2021. Vrio data is not included. Note: In July 2021, we completed a transaction with TPG Capital involving our North America video business – including DIRECTV, AT&T TV and U-verse – to form a new company called DIRECTV. In November 2021, we completed the sale of our Latin America video operations, Vrio, to Grupo Werthein.

3 2017–2018 data for waste generation and management represent all waste accounted for through AT&T Inc.’s domestic U.S. general solid waste, investment recovery and hazardous waste programs. The 2019–2021 data for waste generation and management represent all waste accounted for through AT&T Inc.’s domestic U.S. general solid waste, investment recovery, e-waste, furniture recycling, paper shredding, pallet recycling and regulated (hazardous and nonhazardous) waste programs, unless otherwise noted.

Due to improved reporting, total nonhazardous waste composted and reused is included in distinct categories for the first time in 2020.

This category does not include WarnerMedia donations to local community partners as donated materials are tracked by number of pieces donated, not weight.

This category represents nonhazardous waste for which data on the management method was unavailable. AT&T is continually updating the vendor submittal process to integrate enhanced waste reporting metrics into contracts.

Percentages are calculated as percent of total domestic hazardous waste.

This category consists of hazardous waste for which the waste management vendors did not report the final disposal method, primarily because they were consolidated with wastes from other companies at the treatment, storage and disposal facilities prior to final disposition. Our EHS Waste team is continually working with those vendors to more accurately report the final disposition of all AT&T hazardous waste.

 

 

 

 

Our Goals

 

 

TOPIC:  Landfill Diversion 

 

 

2030 GOAL: Reduce the amount of U.S. waste we send to landfill by 30% (2019 base year).

 

 

PROGRESS: Estimated 26.7% reduction 9 9 2021 data are estimated and inclusive of AT&T Communications, U.S. operations. Final values will be available in Q2 2022.
2021 estimated waste sent to landfill is 111,916 metric tons. This represents an estimated reduction of 40,791 metric tons from our 2019 base year (152,707 metric tons). We will continue monitoring performance to determine whether COVID-19-related impacts are temporarily speeding our progress. 9 9 2021 data are estimated and inclusive of AT&T Communications, U.S. operations. Final values will be available in Q2 2022.

 

 

 

Our Action

Please note that 2021 general solid waste, solid waste goals, and hazardous and other regulated waste data is estimated. Final data will be available Q2 2022.

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

Waste Overview
AT&T manages the waste generated by our business operations through numerous channels. Our total waste and recycling figures represent waste accounted for through AT&T’s domestic U.S. e-waste, general solid waste, furniture recycling, paper shredding, pallet recycling, investment recovery and regulated (hazardous and nonhazardous) waste programs, including select WarnerMedia and Xandr locations. 10 10 In May 2021, we entered into an agreement to combine our WarnerMedia segment, subject to certain exceptions, with a subsidiary of Discovery, Inc. The transaction is subject to approval by Discovery shareholders and subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals. It is expected to close in Q2 2022. In December 2021, we entered into an agreement with Microsoft to sell our programmatic advertising marketplace component of Xandr Inc. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory reviews.
Our company sends more than 100,000 metric tons of waste to landfill each year. 11 11 2021 data are estimated and inclusive of AT&T Communications, U.S. operations, and select WarnerMedia and Xandr locations. Represents all waste accounted for through AT&T Inc.’s domestic U.S. e-waste, general solid waste, furniture recycling, paper shredding, pallet recycling, investment recovery and regulated (hazardous and nonhazardous) waste programs, unless otherwise noted. Final values will be available in Q2 2022. While we strive to reduce the amount of material going to landfill and are making progress, the financials and unintended environmental impacts associated with recycling can make it challenging. For example, in some locations, recyclable material may be located far from a recycling facility so that the carbon footprint associated with transporting the material to the recycling facility exceeds the benefit of recycling. Additionally, we’re dependent on facility occupants to accurately separate material by recycling categories. Improperly sorted waste can result in expensive contamination fines and the diversion of an entire load of recyclable material to landfill.

Despite these challenges, we continually work to expand our scope of waste reporting and to reduce the environmental impacts of our waste.

Several organizations across our operating companies, including Global Connections and Supply Chain (GCSC); Environment, Health and Safety (EHS); and Real Estate, lead our waste recycling and management programs.

  • Our GCSC team works with several e-waste recyclers to manage electronics recycling. The Supply Chain Investment Recovery (IR) group focuses on the recycling and potential resale of high-volume common materials within our internal network operations.
  • EHS manages regulated waste generated by various AT&T operations, including the Construction and Engineering, Technical Field Services, and Mobility business units. EHS also provides guidance to AT&T’s various business units regarding the recycling of batteries and e-waste and the management of other regulated wastes.
  • Our real estate teams manage general solid waste at our corporate facilities and work with our waste vendors to measure waste and implement programs to encourage waste reduction, recycling and composting.
  • WarnerMedia teams focus on managing and reducing various waste streams from WarnerMedia productions and administrative facilities.
AT&T also proactively seeks to keep electronic materials out of the landfill through reuse programs. In total, AT&T managed nearly 188,000 metric tons (MT) of waste 11 11 2021 data are estimated and inclusive of AT&T Communications, U.S. operations, and select WarnerMedia and Xandr locations. Represents all waste accounted for through AT&T Inc.’s domestic U.S. e-waste, general solid waste, furniture recycling, paper shredding, pallet recycling, investment recovery and regulated (hazardous and nonhazardous) waste programs, unless otherwise noted. Final values will be available in Q2 2022. and recovered more than 21 million consumer devices 12 12 2021 data are estimated and inclusive of AT&T Communications, U.S. operations and select WarnerMedia and Xandr locations. DIRECTV e-waste data is included through July 2021. Final values will be available in Q2 2022. Note: In July 2021, we completed a transaction with TPG Capital involving our North America video business – including DIRECTV, AT&T TV and U-verse – to form a new company called DIRECTV. in 2021.
Investment Recovery

The AT&T Global Connections and Supply Chain IR group leads the way in establishing practices that minimize the environmental impact of our internal waste and e-waste. IR works with our contracted R2-certified vendors to recover and recycle network infrastructure assets. The R2 certification is a comprehensive global certification awarded to facilities that adhere to responsible electronics recycling standards. Materials are dismantled, sorted and baled by commodity in preparation for sale or recycling. Scrap materials processed by IR include copper and fiber-optic telecommunications wire and central office equipment.

In 2021, IR continued to focus on diverting fiber-optic cable and trash – such as contaminated plastic, cardboard and wood deemed unrecyclable – from landfill. Scrap fiber-optic cable can be shredded and milled to become components of roofing materials or burned for resalable steam energy. Our focus in these areas led to improvement in IR’s landfill diversion rate from 97.63% in 2020 to 98.76% in 2021. 13 13 2021 data are estimated and covers the central offices of AT&T’s wireline, longlines and DIRECTV business, as well as outside plant and some mobility locations in the contiguous U.S. Final values will be available in Q2 2022.
In 2021, IR handled more than 18.3 MT of domestic U.S. operational waste and kept more than 18.1 MT of these materials from landfills. 13 13 2021 data are estimated and covers the central offices of AT&T’s wireline, longlines and DIRECTV business, as well as outside plant and some mobility locations in the contiguous U.S. Final values will be available in Q2 2022.

When AT&T vacates facilities and outside plant infrastructure, our teams remove all regulated materials and coordinate with vendors to recycle and dispose of the materials in an appropriate manner. We remove aerial cables and process underground cables based on municipality-specific rules. Our material removal process varies by site to adhere to specific local waste removal regulations and guidelines.

General Solid Waste
The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to impact AT&T’s overall waste generation. As office occupancy remained low throughout 2021, our year-over-year solid waste footprint declined by 6.5%. 12 12 2021 data are estimated and inclusive of AT&T Communications, U.S. operations and select WarnerMedia and Xandr locations. DIRECTV e-waste data is included through July 2021. Final values will be available in Q2 2022. Note: In July 2021, we completed a transaction with TPG Capital involving our North America video business – including DIRECTV, AT&T TV and U-verse – to form a new company called DIRECTV. Our diversion rates with haulers improved by 0.2%. 9 9 2021 data are estimated and inclusive of AT&T Communications, U.S. operations. Final values will be available in Q2 2022. Additionally, in 2021, AT&T managed more than 144,000 MT of general solid waste. 12 12 2021 data are estimated and inclusive of AT&T Communications, U.S. operations and select WarnerMedia and Xandr locations. DIRECTV e-waste data is included through July 2021. Final values will be available in Q2 2022. Note: In July 2021, we completed a transaction with TPG Capital involving our North America video business – including DIRECTV, AT&T TV and U-verse – to form a new company called DIRECTV. Of that total, more than 34,000 MT was recycled, resulting in a general solid waste diversion rate of 24.5%. More than 16,000 MT of recycled waste consisted of corrugated material and paper. 12 12 2021 data are estimated and inclusive of AT&T Communications, U.S. operations and select WarnerMedia and Xandr locations. DIRECTV e-waste data is included through July 2021. Final values will be available in Q2 2022. Note: In July 2021, we completed a transaction with TPG Capital involving our North America video business – including DIRECTV, AT&T TV and U-verse – to form a new company called DIRECTV.

In 2021, as part of an Internet of Things collaboration with multiple third-party waste vendors, we expanded our pilot of smart dumpster monitoring systems to reduce costs and carbon footprint while improving workflows. The expansion has revealed additional opportunities to optimize AT&T’s waste services and reduce miles traveled for haulers, which helps to decrease fuel use and associated carbon emissions.

Solid Waste Goals
In 2021, AT&T established our “30x30” goal to reduce the amount of waste our haulers send to landfill by 30% by 2030 from our 2019 base year. In 2021, our landfill footprint is down an estimated 26.7% compared to 2019. 2021 estimated waste sent to landfill is 111,916 MT. This represents an estimated reduction of 40,791 MT from our 2019 base year (152,707 metric tons). 9 9 2021 data are estimated and inclusive of AT&T Communications, U.S. operations. Final values will be available in Q2 2022. We will continue monitoring performance to determine whether COVID-19 related impacts are temporarily speeding our progress.

We are also continuing our Zero Waste Furniture Program, which aims to divert from landfill 90% of AT&T’s surplus office furniture – including office desks, tables, file cabinets, chairs, modular panels and office partitions. Our disposition strategy is to 1) reuse, 2) resell, 3) donate or 4) recycle. The pandemic-related closure of many charities through 2021 presented fewer donation options. In response, we amplified recycling efforts. In 2021, the program recycled more than 1,500 tons, resold over 91 tons and donated approximately 218 tons. 

Hazardous and Other Regulated Waste

AT&T is committed to complying with all applicable environment, health and safety laws and regulations and to promoting pollution prevention through strategies like recycling and minimizing the generation of hazardous waste.

In 2021, AT&T managed more than 30 MT of regulated waste, which includes hazardous and nonhazardous waste. We recycled 23 MT of this waste, and only 0.59% of hazardous waste was sent to landfill. 14 14 2021 data are estimated and inclusive of AT&T Communications, U.S. operations, and WarnerMedia. Final values will be available in Q2 2022.

We have formalized a set of procedures for managing and disposing of hazardous waste, applicable to all operating companies. To ensure compliance and improve the accuracy of waste reporting and metrics for those business units that directly hire vendors to manage their hazardous and other regulated waste, we enhanced systems and processes to ensure that records for all hazardous and other regulated waste disposal are gathered in one place for comprehensive tracking.

AT&T’s primary hazardous waste includes compressed gas cylinders, aerosol cans, acidic wastes, batteries, contaminated soils and contaminated liquids. To minimize the impacts of hazardous waste, we first look to reduce the amount generated. Once hazardous waste is generated, our highest priority is always recycling, and we have implemented recycling programs for batteries and aerosol cans to divert those waste streams from landfills. Where there is no recycling or reuse option, hazardous waste is physically treated, incinerated or disposed of in an appropriate landfill as a last resort.

E-Waste

At AT&T, we believe all electronic devices should be reused, refurbished or recycled, and we encourage our customers to participate in this ongoing initiative. For information about recycling AT&T devices, visit our device recycling website.

AT&T is also committed to managing our internal electronic waste in a responsible manner. AT&T’s internal electronic device waste, as well as assets and materials managed by our AT&T Global Connections & Supply Chain Investment Recovery group, is responsibly recycled with R2-certified vendors. We follow the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive and the Waste and Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive for electronic waste disposal. AT&T is also collaborating with peers through wireless industry group GSMA workgroups focused on consumer device and network equipment recycling. 

To learn more about our product recycling and reuse and our packaging waste reduction efforts, read our Product Life Cycle issue brief.