How Orange is reducing its environmental footprint

You will recall that, at end 2017, Orange achieved its 2020 objective – three years early - by reducing its CO2 emissions per customer use by 50.03%. Its global carbon footprint has also been reduced by 6% (1.33 million tCO2 at end 2017 vs. 1.42 million tCO2 at end 2016).

To achieve this, Orange has deployed an Environmental Management System. This led to ISO 14001 certification of 66.7% of the Group’s global businesses in 2017, which were rated A- by CDP. Orange France was itself ISO 50001 certified for all its 30,000 technical sites and its fleet of 15,000 vehicles; it is one of the first French companies to obtain this certification on a very large scale.

The purpose of the management system is to reduce the consumption of energy in all parts of the business, all functions and at all levels of the organisation. The system essentially includes five distinct areas:

1. For the networks and ISs (82.3% of energy consumption and 80% of CO2 emissions across all regions), the programme Green ITN 2020 enables the systematic implementation of less energy intensive technical solutions, such as;

  • 90,000 virtual machines out of 130,000 servers within the Group for 70% energy savings,
  • optimised data centres: pending the opening in 2020 of the future data centre in Mainvilliers, that of Val de Reuil in Normandy is one of the most efficient in the industry and helps to save energy equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of a town of 30,000 people,
  • 2,800 solar sites to supply our mobile telephone systems in Africa, thereby avoiding emissions of 80,000 tonnes of CO2 every year.

2. For tertiary buildings (11.2% of energy consumption and 12% of CO2 emissions), since December 2017 all property related processes have been ISO 50001 certified. As part of the Cube2020 awards, the French Institute for Building Efficiency awarded Orange the prize for the most efficient portfolio, with savings of 14% for the buildings entered in the competition.

3. For travel and transport (6.2% of energy consumption and 7.2% of CO2 emissions) Orange is exploring all possible innovative technological and human solutions to reduce its emissions. With nearly 2,000 vehicles, Orange has the number one car sharing fleet in Europe, it has a fleet of 650 hybrid or electric vehicles and uses about 360 video-conference rooms around the world to limit employee travel.

4. Renewable energies are now taken into account, especially in the Middle East and Africa Region through the Energy Services Company (ESCO) programme with an objective of 100% renewable sources by 2030. Solar parks are being looked into with the first energy self-sufficient site having been created in Jordan. In Europe, the Group uses Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) for its procurement of renewable energies.

5. The big projects of the future
The remaining challenges to be met by the other operators, and Orange in particular, are both internal and external. They are all based on one certainty: in the immediate future, all operators will need to be carbon neutral if they wish to continue to exist. With this in mind, there are four ongoing initiatives:

  • using 100% renewable energies by 2030 for the Orange MEA Region and by 2050 in Europe. This project is all the more important because it means REALLY achieving carbon neutrality with no recourse, save in exceptional circumstances, to offsetting and the certificates (credits) system. The Net Zero Initiative project, of which Orange is one of the founder members along with other large French and international groups, is working towards this.
  • integrating the circular economy into our organisation and processes. Following stakeholder dialogue at Group level in 2017, a strategy steering committee for the circular economy was formed in order to decide together on the actions to be taken within the core businesses and develop a 2017-2020 roadmap. The roadmap covers eco-design, limiting the consumption of critical resources, modularity and reusing equipment, the optimisation of waste management and the possibility of giving waste electric and electronic equipment a second lease of life (WEEE).
  • limiting the impact on natural resources. Equipment that uses critical materials and limited or sensitive resources, recycling and reusing WEEE, and the development of the principle of reuse are an obligation for Orange: 1.4 million used mobile telephones collected in 2017 (10 million in 10 years); 55,700 tonnes of WEEE processed in 2017 (dismantling / recycling) with 82% recycled; introduction at Group level of a common ‘stock market' type platform for the reuse of old network equipment (regular country by country monitoring). Orange is an active member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation CE100.
  • supporting suppliers and customers with their approach to the ecological transition. The three projects outlined above imply working alongside the suppliers so that they use, for example, better plastics, modular systems, reusable parts… especially in a sector where there is rapid technological innovation (migration to 5G, etc.). But the approach also concerns Orange customers: education on the use of hardware, consumption and responsible purchasing need to be put in place.


As you can see, these projects are far from being peripheral; they are a vital contribution to the required sustainability of our business against a background of constant growth in the ‘digital population’, combined with the intensification of types of use. This is the challenge that we are facing.