Orange is part of the virtuous circular economy

Every year, Earth Overshoot Day gets earlier: in 2018 it was 1 August... 5 months before the end of the year! Humanity is living on credit, it now needs 1.7 planets to meet its needs. Earth’s resources are under pressure: the linear “extract > produce > consume > throw away” model is no longer sustainable. It has to make way for another model: “reduce > reuse > recondition > recycle”. This is the circular economy that Orange made voluntary commitments to at the time of the Paris Agreement.

For several years now, Orange has been working on reducing its activity's impact on resources and raw materials. It is a strategic challenge that has given rise to a very structured policy, with a roadmap looking forward to 2020, which covers twenty projects and defines many plans of action. The approach also contributes to our objective of reducing our CO2 emissions.

It is important to note that before this roadmap was created a dialogue was organised between stakeholders.  This approach has raised the various affected parties’ awareness of the challenges of the circular economy. It has also helped us to define the major themes of our circular economy policy.


Widespread inclusion of the CE in our organisation and processes

An internal strategic steering committee for the Circular Economy was introduced in 2017.

It focuses on the projects implemented including eco-design, limiting the Group’s consumption of critical resources, optimising the management of waste, and the ability to give a second life to electronic and electrical waste (WEEE).

As a member of the Ellen MacArthur foundation, Orange is part of the CE100 programme “the 100 companies of the circular economy” and, in 2017, it coordinated the preparation of a report on the benefits of introducing modular technical and network equipment.


Eco-design: reducing impacts at the source

  • work with our suppliers to reduce our dependency on critical materials

A regularly updated database, with files for each material, is used to perform risk analyses and to search for substitute resources. We regularly talk with suppliers to encourage them to limit their use of these resources in favour of substitutes and the use of recycled resources.A further impact study on the use of rare resources was started in the first half of 2018.

  • work with public authorities to use the resources contained inside waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).Orange has started talks with manufacturers in various sectors and with public authorities to support the development of effective recycling chains to use WEEE - these “urban mines”, which contain up to 40 times more rare resources than can be found under the Earth’s surface.

The Livebox 4 is a good example of eco-design: a more compact model, cardboard packaging from sustainably managed forests weighing under a third of the product’s weight to limit the packaging materials and optimise transport, and vegetable-based inks. This project earned recognition for Orange at the Mariannes d'Or for sustainable development.


Optimising electronic and electric devices' service life

  • extending the lifespan of equipment

A common “stock market” type platform was created and launched to reuse old network equipment in all Group operations. Regular monitoring is conducted in each country.

  • collecting and processing our used electronic equipment and that of our customers, using approved external partners or collection channels


  • setting up processing systems adapted to each waste category

55,700 tonnes of WEEE evacuated in 2017 (dismantled/recycled) of which 82% was recycled.

  • giving a second life to mobiles, with a target of 30% of used mobiles collected in Europe by 2020, and developing the sale of second-hand or re-conditioned devices

In the past 10 years, Orange has collected and recycled 10 million used mobiles.


Transforming our customer relations

  • encouraging consumers to limit their environmental impact, by enabling them to choose more environmentally-friendly devices

In 2017, Orange exclusively distribute the Fairphone 2 mobile device, on the French market, designed as a modular system to extend its lifespan and make it easier to repair.

  • designing new services based on usage rather that possessing equipment (functional economy)

As we can see, introducing the circular economy throughout the company’s organisation and processes is a long-term, in-depth endeavour that affects our whole business and involves all the stakeholders in our industrial and commercial ecosystem. This project represents a deep-reaching transformation that also provides huge scope for positive innovation and opportunities for sustainable progress. At Orange it is no different, we have no planet B.