Towards a green network

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time and a major concern of society. Our ambition is to be a leading company in the fight against climate change and we are committed to further reducing our impact on the environment. To this end, we have set up programs in which we involve our suppliers, employees and customers.

Our core business is, of course, our network. Which means we've made it a priority to provide our customers with a green, reliable network that allows for the best connection quality while reducing its impact on the environment as much as possible. To this end, we have developed a series of initiatives to reduce our energy consumption while applying the principles of circular economy in the design of the network itself.

How to reduce our CO₂ emissions

Our network, like our buildings for that matter, operates exclusively with electricity from renewable sources. And this since we joined RE100, a global initiative bringing together the world's most influential businesses.

Other efforts to reduce our carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions include controlling our electricity consumption through our network simplification project and the installation of more efficient equipment. With the evolution of technology, much of the existing infrastructure in our technical buildings was removed or replaced with newer, more compact and energy-efficient equipment. As a result, many of our old technical buildings are now scarcely occupied, yet we continue to pay high maintenance costs.

For this reason, we decided to completely empty these oversized technical buildings (600 m²) and replace them with the new, innovative concept of Optimus containers (20 m²), which are optimally designed and built to support the digital transformation.

Optical fiber-related opportunities

In order to adapt to technological developments and to its users' needs, our network is constantly evolving. In such a way that the accelerated optical fiber roll-out makes it possible to recover copper cables for recycling or reuse for other purposes. Fiber is also beneficial for the environment because it is more energy efficient than copper and has a longer lifespan. In addition, it is more resistant to climatic events such as floods.

The accelerated fiber roll-out also led us to invest in a machine that allows us to better manage the quantities of fiber put into service. This is yet another way to reduce the amount of waste as this machine tests, repairs and cuts fiber, so our technicians have the exact amount of material needed for each job. And should excess quantities nevertheless be delivered, that material can now be tested and put back in stock for future use!

Carbon footprint copper vs. fiber
Copper production Fiber production
  • extracted mainly in South America (more than 40% of world production) through highly polluting processes, destroying the natural ecosystem,
  • transport by ship to Asia,
  • transformation of ore into a finished product in coal-fired power plants,
  • final transport to the destination countries.
  • from simple materials (glass, silica, quartz, plastic), production can be carried out in Europe from start to finish.
  • This amounts to a very small carbon footprint compared to that of copper.

Choosing for a circular economy model

A project which has been running for several years at Proximus aims at recycling as many valuable raw materials as possible from network installations. In 2019, more than 680 tons of copper cables were recovered and reused for various applications, mainly in the smelting sector. Thousands of tons of electronic equipment were also recycled. Because it represents a hazard, this WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) must be processed according to specific guidelines. After decontamination, the hazardous substances are removed and isolated in homogeneous families, then processed in accordance with the regulations. The other fractions (metals, recyclable plastics, glass, strategic metals, etc.) resulting from the shredding of equipment also go to dedicated processing channels and are mainly recycled.

Responsible network maintenance

Our approach would not be consistent if we did not apply the same principles to network maintenance. Our artificial intelligence-enabled monitoring allows us to anticipate problems and plan our interventions more efficiently. Many interventions can be done remotely, which reduces the number of journeys made by our technicians.

Of course, none of this would be possible without close cooperation with our suppliers, who also apply environmentally friendly methods. Together we are building a truly green network!