Circular economy

As a reseller of mobile phones and a provider of routers and TV boxes, Swisscom plays an important role in the value chain on the Swiss market. The company must consequently tackle the sustainability opportunities of the circular economy in a constructive manner and use its market position to strengthen the circular economy. In doing so, Swisscom focuses on extending the service life (second life) of mobile phones in collaboration with private and business customers.

Swisscom customers can make an active contribution to a more sustainable supply chain. By using the second-life programmes Mobile Bonus and Mobile Aid as well as the repair service, they extend the service life of their devices, thereby taking some of the strain off the supply chain. This also reduces environmental and social risks as fewer new devices have to be purchased and manufactured.

Swisscom offers its customers the right second-life programme for every eventuality. In line with their position in the value chain, the programmes are directed to where there is the greatest opportunity to exert influence. This is demonstrated by the success of the three different programmes. The challenge is to inform customers who are in an appropriate situation about the programmes and persuade them to use them.

The circular economy requires a holistic approach, as implementing it includes procurement, operations and customers. Several Swisscom business units are therefore responsible for the circular economy, with a joint working group comprising Group Business Steering (GBS) and Group Communications & Responsibility (GCR) responsible for control and coordination.

  • Repair service in Repair Centres: one in five mobile phones purchased from Swisscom will be repaired by Swisscom at least once during its lifetime. If a phone is sent in to the manufacturer for repair, the service takes nine days on average. This is precisely where the new Swisscom Repair Centres come in: damaged mobile phones can be repaired directly on site in Swisscom Shops within 24 hours, or in as few as three hours using the express service (subject to charge). 14% of all customers use this express service. The manufacturer’s warranty remains intact thanks to the certified specialists involved and the use of original parts. Most repairs relate to cracked displays or battery and software problems. Swisscom ran a total of nine Repair Centres in 2018, at the sites in Zurich, Winterthur, Lausanne, Lucerne, Geneva, Berne, Basel, Fribourg and St. Gallen. Swisscom carries out almost 140,000 repairs annually, a quarter of which are already performed at the nine Repair Centres.
  • Recycling of devices: by law, Swisscom provides a two-year guarantee on all devices, such as telephones, modems, mobile phones and mobile unlimited USB modems. In addition, any electronic devices from its range can be returned to the company, and routers are re-used wherever possible.
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  • Recycling is performed in conjunction with SWICO Recycling, the recycling commission of the Swiss Association for Information, Communication and Organisational Technology, and is financed by a recycling fee charged in advance. Recycling statistics are available from SWICO.
  • Swisscom Mobile Aid: around 87,000 mobile handsets were returned to Swisscom in 2018. The return rate of used mobile handsets increased compared with the previous year and amounted to 9.9% (prior year: 8.0%). Swisscom managed to sell approximately 30% of these devices via a third-party company in countries where there is demand for low-priced second-hand devices. All proceeds from the sales went to the social enterprise Réalise and the SOS-Kinderdorf Schweiz relief organisation. The devices collected are inspected and sorted by the social enterprise Réalise in Geneva. This organisation separates working devices from faulty ones, then deletes the data from working devices and prepares them for resale. Devices that can no longer be sold are professionally recycled by a SWICO-licensed company. The initial stage is carried out by the recycling company Solenthaler Recycling AG together with Dock Gruppe AG. Dock Gruppe AG helps long-term unemployed people to reintegrate into the workforce.
  • Swisscom Mobile Bonus: Swisscom continued the Swisscom Mobile Bonus programme in 2018. Customers and non-customers can sell back their used devices at market prices online or in Swisscom Shops. Mobile Bonus increases the return rate. The Mobile Bonus Business programme is available to business customers.
  • Device packaging: Swisscom continues to send TV and Internet boxes as parcel post. It has changed the packaging, with recycled material being chosen over virgin fibres. According to information provided by the manufacturer, this saves up to 60% of the energy and up to 70% of the water consumed in its manufacture, and reduces CO2 emissions and waste. Swisscom also now uses a decorative design for the packaging, which offers added value to its customers. The packaging can be used as a gift or storage box, giving it a meaningful second use.