Telstra branded packaging to be fully recyclable by 2022

Telstra plans to step up its sustainability efforts by introducing fully recyclable packaging and running a trial electronic recycling program from now to July.

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Image: Telstra

Australia's incumbent telecommunications carrier announced on Thursday that by the end of 2022, all Telstra branded packaging would be made of renewable or recycled material and be fully recyclable.

The first product to be wrapped in the new packaging will be its Smart Modem Gen 2, with its pre-paid devices and 5G Home Internet to follow.

Telstra head of environment Tom Penny explained the new packaging for its Smart Modem Gen 2 would use a single half-sheet of paper folded in an "origami-like way", instead of two sheets of paper across separate boxes. Telstra has also ceased the use of any inks or print finishes that could impact the ability to recycle the packaging afterwards.

"Together, these changes are driving a 75% reduction in packaging materials for the Smart Modem Gen 2 -- in fact we're using approximately 258,000 less kilos of packaging across the 1.1 million Smart Modems we ship each year," Penny said in a blog post.

"This material reduction has flow-on effects too -- the fact that we're using less paper also means our packaging weighs around half as much as before. As a result, our pallets can fit 33% more stock, further reducing our delivery footprint."

Penny added that Telstra would apply the Australasian Recycling Label so customers can clearly identify the best way to recycle each packaging component.

Other changes include replacing plastic courier satchels that are typically used by Telstra to deliver products to customers with recycled paper packaging instead.

Beyond packaging, the telco giant said it would also be stepping up its electronic recycling program by setting two additional goals that it aims to reach by 2025: Recycling or reusing over 500,000 phones, modems, and other devices each year, and bumping up its network waste recycling rate to 85%.

To kick it off, the company plans to run a trial recycling program, dubbed Telstra eCycle Program, between May and July to provide all Australians a service to help recycle most electronic devices. This service will exclude televisions, computers, printers, and batteries.  

"Our ambition is to make it simple for Australians to conveniently recycle e-waste on an on-going basis," Penny said.

Separately, Telstra will allow its customers to trade in their old, out-of-contract phones that are still in working and "decent" condition for Telstra credit that could be used towards a purchase of a new device.

Just over a year ago, Telstra set the target of reducing its absolute emissions by 50% in 2030. A few months after, the company was certified as carbon neutral. At the time, CEO Andy Penn stated the company was well ahead of schedule and had taken on a mixture of carbon offset projects in Australia as well as India.

These projects included taking part in the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Project in southwest Western Australia that is removing carbon from the atmosphere by replanting native species on disused, degraded, semi-arid agricultural land.

For its Indian offsets, the company purchased credits from solar projects and wind farms. Telstra also purchased renewable energy from the Murra Warra wind farm and Emerald solar farm in Australia.

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