5. Progress for Everyone - Sustainability

Environmentally friendly working

As data consumption increases, so does the need for energy to power the digitalisation of our homes and workplaces – putting ever-greater pressure on our planet. The cost of energy, meanwhile, is also rising. These considerations make it increasingly important for us to enhance the energy efficiency of our network while still ensuring connectivity for all our customers’ devices. In addition to this, we are also reducing our environmental impact by making our offices, shops and data centres more sustainable.


At the organisational level, we successfully laid the foundations for more impactful future initiatives in support of our overarching environmental sustainability objectives (see Supporting people and planet (new window)). This included building a framework for collecting and analysing data to help us better monitor and manage our energy consumption. We also took the first steps in setting up a permanent team to drive energy plans and actions across the company. This group will build on the achievements of our Energy Crew experts, who continued to address a range of energy-efficiency challenges during the year.


As we navigate the ever-changing energy landscape, the current state of the electricity grid, combined with the inconsistent and insufficient supply of renewable energy sources, makes it impossible for us to rely solely on renewable sources. To help mitigate our CO2 footprint, we purchase renewable Guarantee of Origin certificates from European wind energy for 100% of our electricity use (see Impact of purchasing (new window)).

Of the electricity our organisation consumes, 95% is used to keep our network running, with the remaining 4% and 1% used for our offices and shops respectively. Our efforts are therefore primarily directed towards making our network more energy efficient.

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Energy efficiency index (kWh/GB)*




base year 2020

EEI % 2023 vs 2020

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  • *The calculation of the Energy Efficiency Index (EEI) is founded upon the methodological principles established in the year 2020

Our 2023 Energy Efficiency Index (kWh/GB) showed that our initiatives had enabled 39% greater efficiency than in 2020; that is, the energy required to process each unit of data (GB) for our customers decreased by 39% between 2020 and 2023. We achieved this despite a rise in overall customer data consumption.


One important means of improving our network’s energy efficiency is shutting down legacy systems and (where necessary) replacing them with more energy-efficient technology. In May 2023, for instance, we completed a major change to our mobile network, powering off our remaining 2,000 3G sites. By achieving this seven months ahead of the original scheduled date in December, we further increased our energy savings, by around 4.2 GWh.

We are not alone on our energy-reduction journey. We work hand in hand with vendors and suppliers who also set ambitious environmental targets and want to drive sustainable innovations (see Impact of purchasing (new window)). By engaging with partners on AI, machine learning and automation projects, we aim to optimise the energy use of our network and customer products.

For example, we have now stopped fuelling all our large emergency generators – used during grid outages – with B7 diesel, instead using hydrogenated vegetable oil fuel (HVO20) by default. In areas of our mobile network without grid connectivity, we use solar-powered generators to minimise emissions. If the battery runs out, the generator switches to lower-emission HVO100 fuel. Furthermore, we have already replaced two legacy generators with smart batteries powered by renewable energy. In the years ahead, we aim to install more such batteries, which automatically detect power outages and prevent network disruption for our customers.


Energy reduction plans are also in place for our data centres. Several will be closed over the coming years and replaced by cloud services. Where we do need to keep our own on-the-ground data centres running to support customer demand, we are actively improving our energy efficiency.

So far, our data centre consolidation strategy has included shutting down 493 physical servers and 1,226 virtual servers across four different locations in Groningen, Emmen, Eindhoven and Arnhem, for electricity savings of 2.2 GWh in 2023. Meanwhile, in Tilburg, we are developing a plan to reuse the residual heat generated by our systems to heat local homes.


While the energy consumption of our offices and shops is significantly lower than that of our network, we are no less committed to reducing our environmental footprint at these locations. Having introduced a policy of keeping shop doors closed at the end of 2022 in response to the impact of the energy crisis, we have now made this a permanent energy-saving measure for all shops (apart from those in indoor shopping centres). This contributed to a 32% reduction in natural gas consumption at our retail locations in 2023 compared to 2022.

Similarly, we saved energy in our offices by adjusting the thermostats based on the season, reducing the minimum temperature in winter and increasing the maximum temperature in summer. These changes contributed to the 10% gas consumption reduction we observed in our offices between 2022 and 2023.


Our operations and customers rely on our vast network of underground cables, the laying of which has a direct impact on the environment. In 2023, we implemented a new software specifically tailored to help us minimise any potential negative effects – such as water or soil pollution – and to ensure compliance with 2024’s new environmental law (‘Omgevingswet’). We also continued to audit our contractors and subcontractors to ensure they meet VodafoneZiggo’s high expectations regarding environmental sustainability and work in line with relevant legislation (see Impact of purchasing (new window)).


Working in an environmentally friendly way is not only good for our planet and wider society; it also enables us to deliver a better experience for our customers. Even though many of our energy-efficiency measures take place behind the scenes, the cost savings they generate can be reinvested into other, more visible parts of our business. These, in turn, can directly improve customer satisfaction in a range of areas, from more resilient networks to new entertainment services. Moreover, we anticipate that our fixed and mobile networks will increasingly be used to power smart devices with green applications, thereby enabling more environmentally sustainable ways of living and working in the years to come.

Sustainable products and services

For several years, VodafoneZiggo has been working to reduce the environmental footprint of our solutions. Together with our partners, we design sustainability into our products and services through an integrated approach that uses fewer raw materials, enables longer product lifetimes and encourages reuse.


In 2023, we continued to implement and promote our Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle (4R) approach: encouraging Vodafone customers to extend the lifetime of their devices and to hand in end-of-life phones for recycling. Not only did the campaign help increase the number of phones traded in by 699% compared to 2022, but our sales of refurbished phones in 2023 also meant that we prevented more than 60 tonnes of CO2 emissions[*].

We bring 4R to life in various ways. Using e-sims, for example, means that, unlike in a traditional plastic SIM card, no raw materials are needed. Our Vodafone brand also launched a national media campaign in 2023, ‘Geef je telefoon een langer leven’ (‘Give your phone a longer life’). Moreover, we decided to stop distributing mobiles to corporate customers outside the Netherlands, reducing the number of new devices we sell.



YoY Change

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Fairphones sold




  • *Manufacturing a mobile phone from our portfolio generates, in average, 44 kg CO2. Refurbishing 1,381 mobile phones instead of manufacturing new ones therefore avoids the generation of 60,764 kg CO2.


In 2023, we researched why so many people are reluctant to hand in old and broken phones, often preferring to keep them at home, gathering dust. One of the main reasons we identified was that these devices often contain treasured memories or sensitive information – photos, conversations – that people can no longer extract from the phone, but still do not want to give up.

In February 2023, together with our technology partner, we set up a booth outside our Utrecht Central Office in the busiest shopping centre in the Netherlands. Here, over four days, people could bring old devices and have their information ‘rescued’ by tech experts. We were overwhelmed by not only the level of interest but also the emotional importance of this opportunity for many users of the service: what had started as a project to reduce e-waste ended up meaning more to people than we could have imagined. We will use these insights to further promote the return of inactive devices for recycling purposes.

Meanwhile, in our shops, the Smartphone Scan tool helps customers diagnose whether their old model is still working effectively; if not, we now have more refurbished devices and accessories available as replacements than ever. More than 15,000 phones were handed in during the year, either in exchange for vouchers through our Vodafone Trade-In programme or for recycling by one of our partners such as Ecowave.


Under the Ziggo brand, the connectivity solutions in our fixed network enable more sustainable ways of working and living for business customers and consumers, such as cutting down commuter travel by enabling working from home with a reliable internet connection. At the same time, we recognise that connected devices can also have a negative impact, something we have long been working to reduce by, for instance, improving the energy efficiency of our network (see Environmentally friendly working (new window)), incorporating environmental considerations in our supplier tender processes (see Impact of purchasing (new window)) and reducing the amount of virgin raw materials in our set-top boxes and connectivity products.


The SmartWifi modem we launched together with Sagemcom in 2022 was joined in 2023 by our mesh SmartWifi 6 pods. Not only are all these devices made from 100% recycled plastic, but we have also developed the new pods to integrate seamlessly with a Connectbox modem, which now acts as a mesh WiFi access point in a home set-up. As a result, every household or home office with the newest modem needs one less power-consuming device to achieve the same WiFi coverage. Compared to a non-integrated two-pack mesh WiFi system, for instance, this reduces the CO2 footprint by 28%.


Building on 2022’s successful launch of the Mediabox Next Mini, our most sustainable entertainment box yet, we took the significant step of making this product the default for all new Ziggo customers in 2023. By the end of the year, over one million Next Mini mediabox enabled our customers to enjoy our high-quality entertainment offering while consuming four times less in-use energy than with its predecessor.

The default setting of the Next Mini is eco-mode, which, if the customer is willing to accept a 25-second loading time, reduces the device’s power consumption substantially: from around 3 watts to around 0.35 watts. This is just one example of how VodafoneZiggo is actively engaging with people’s growing environmental consciousness – and willingness to adapt their behaviour accordingly – to make a positive impact.


Product circularity is central to our sustainability approach. We therefore provide Ziggo customers with boxes they can use to return (free of charge) certain hardware that is outdated, no longer functioning or simply unneeded – such as spare boosters made redundant by our SmartWifi 6 innovation. In 2023, more than 90% of the video boxes, modems and WiFi boosters sent back to us were suitable for recycling or refurbishing, ready for reuse. We also continued to encourage customers to hand in end-of-life hardware for recycling at the Milieustraat or one of the 13,000 Wecycle recycling points located throughout the country.

Our end-to-end perspective looks far beyond our fixed and mobile products themselves; in fact, we aim to put these products into our customers’ hands in the most environmentally sustainable way possible. Minimising the footprint of our packaging and logistics starts with using less material, which both saves resources and optimises delivery efficiencies.

For example, we have worked with partners to reduce the packaging volume of our Mediabox Next Mini by 60% compared to predecessors in 2021. This compact parcel is designed to fit through letterboxes, increasing the number of parcels fitting in the delivery van. Ultimately, this contributes to a 40% reduction in the overall carbon footprint, all while containing no single-use plastic.

On the mobile side, we increasingly use biodegradable materials – such as recycled cardboard and soya ink – and we have also embraced glue-free designs, lowering the toxicity of used packaging. An important next step is to fully digitalise the e-sim journey, reducing our logistics and packaging impact still further.


Many of our sustainability initiatives bring benefits for consumer and business customers alike, but we recognise that for our business customers – who, like VodafoneZiggo, are facing regulatory and consumer pressure to operate in more environmentally responsible ways – there is an extra dimension to keep in mind. We therefore work closely with our corporate customers to understand their plans and priorities and ensure our solutions support them in achieving their goals.

This provides opportunities for us, but also challenges. One of the biggest challenges we face is that although we are actively replacing older generations of customer premises equipment with more energy-efficient products, the benefits are partly offset by customers’ ever-higher performance demands. We worked to gain a clearer picture of energy consumption at our customers’ sites in 2023, and we will use these insights to inform the way ahead – both for our business and for theirs – in the years to come.

Sustainable mobility

Our mobility policy is not only a key feature of our overall employee benefits package, but also an important driver for us to reach our environmental sustainability goals. We are committed to significantly reducing the CO2 emissions of our everyday mobility by reducing our travel where possible and using more sustainable modes of transport – on both four and two wheels.


Addressing emissions from mobility, which account for more than 70% of our Scope 1 and 2 CO2 emissions, is a high priority for VodafoneZiggo within our environmental sustainability ambitions. We established a Mobility Expert Crew in 2023, holding monthly meetings that bring together colleagues representing different internal and external perspectives. Among other actions, the team is adapting our mobility policy to post-pandemic ways of working and taking measures to limit the impact of the increasing electricity consumption of our fleet. One of the team’s biggest achievements in 2023 was purchasing, for the first time, renewable guarantee of origin certificates for 100% of the electricity consumed by our EV fleet during the year, thereby saving the equivalent of more than 700 tonnes CO2.


Since 2018, we have offered all employees an NS Business Card, with which they can travel on the national public transport network first class, free of charge, even in their free time. More of our colleagues are choosing this option for business and private purposes: at the end of 2023, 90% of our workforce had one of these cards. We will encourage more people to take advantage of this benefit in 2024 and beyond. One way in which we support the use of public transport is by opening new sites in convenient locations: our new office in Leeuwarden, for instance, is within walking distance of the train station.

Meanwhile, we participate in the national ‘Anders Reizen (new window)’ (‘Travel differently’) coalition to promote sustainable business travel. Thomas Mulder, Executive Director HR, serves as a board member for ‘Anders Reizen’ and our CEO attends its general meetings; we also take part in the coalition’s e-van sub-committee.


The electrification of the VodafoneZiggo lease fleet – vehicles used by our technicians and ‘ambulant’ colleagues – continues (see Diesel to electric, lightning-fast (new window)). At the end of 2023, the proportion of electric cars and vans within the total fleet had increased to 43%. Because of a decrease in the number of kilometres being driven, vehicles in our legacy fleet are lasting longer than expected, meaning progress is slower than we had originally planned. As of January 2024, however, no new fossil-powered cars will be added to our fleet, and our target is to reach more than 90% electrification by the end of 2027.

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We recognise that the most sustainable journey is no journey at all. Under our hybrid-work pilot (see Employer of choice (new window)), many of our employees travel less frequently than they did before the pandemic. In 2024, we will review which positions are eligible for a lease car, with a view to reducing the size of our fleet.

One aspect of the wider electrification transition that we are keeping a close eye on is the state of the charging infrastructure needed to power battery vehicles. This is relevant not only in terms of charging station availability across the Netherlands, especially in rural areas, but also because charging a vehicle requires a lot of electricity, which is currently not always renewably sourced.

We will continue to monitor developments and explore solutions for our mobile employees, such as installing charging points at our technicians’ homes. By the end of 2023, VodafoneZiggo had installed charging stations at the homes of 42% of technicians driving vans and 78% of technicians driving cars. We also work with partners including Circet and Guidion to plan daily routes that are as energy efficient as possible.


E-bikes are a great option for greener mobility and are increasingly popular among our technicians, particularly in bigger cities. In 2023, 23,936 appointments were attended by technicians travelling via e-bike – a 74% increase versus 2022 – and we also welcomed our first technician without a driving licence who will carry out all his home visits via e-bike. Meanwhile, some members of our team keep e-scooters (‘e-steps’) in their (e-)vans, meaning they can travel the last part of their journey in an even more energy-efficient way.

E-bikes and e-scooters also contribute to a positive customer experience: in our surveys, 71% of e-biker technicians are awarded five stars, versus 67% of technicians travelling by conventional mobility. Our customers appreciate being visited by technicians who use green means of transport not only because they know they are receiving a more sustainable service, but also because they are given a special gift of plant seeds. Part of our ‘random acts of kindness’ initiative (see Exceptional customer experience (new window)), this gesture helps to raise awareness of VodafoneZiggo’s efforts to reduce our CO2 footprint as well as delighting customers with a planet-positive surprise.

Piloting pedal power

We piloted a voluntary e-bike programme in Tilburg in the summer of 2023, with the aim of changing people’s mindsets around getting from A to B. Uptake varied according to the weather conditions, but we aimed to counter the rain with covers to keep people drier and more comfortable on their journeys. The response from our teams was positive: not only do e-bikes save time and energy compared to e-vans, but they also support people’s health and well-being.

Impact of purchasing

On an annual basis, VodafoneZiggo purchases goods and services worth more than €2 billion from around 1,800 different suppliers in the Netherlands and beyond. As one link in a long value chain, we recognise that we are only as strong as our weakest connection. We work closely with our partners to constantly improve the sustainability – both ethical and environmental – not only of our operations, but also of the entire value chain.


The EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and the forthcoming Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) both have important implications for our procurement activities, particularly in relation to our Scope 3 emissions (the indirect emissions that occur in our upstream and downstream value chain). From the reporting year 2025, we will be required to make more in-depth disclosures on the environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance of our value chain as well as on our own activities.

In 2023, therefore, we worked hard to prepare our organisation and our partners to ensure we can fulfil these requirements. At the same time, our efforts represented the natural continuation of our responsible purchasing approach. We recognise that, given the large size of VodafoneZiggo’s value chain and the complexity of the world in which we operate, achieving an overnight transformation is an unrealistic aim. Instead, over the past few years, we have been steadily increasing the sustainability demands we make of our suppliers. We will continue to hold ourselves and our value chain to higher and higher standards, accelerating our collective progress.


Our Code of Sustainable and Ethical Purchasing (new window) lays out what we expect from all our suppliers in the areas of human rights, business integrity, environmental footprint and more. This document forms the basis of our supplier agreements, such as those relating to working conditions in overseas contact centres. In February 2023, we updated the code in line with the latest relevant legislation. We also added a powerful new statement from our CEO and CFO, explaining why these requirements are so important to VodafoneZiggo and calling on our partners to work together with us to fulfil them.


By the end of 2023, we had integrated corporate social responsibility (CSR) questions into all VodafoneZiggo tenders, exceeding our 80% target. To do this, our Procurement team worked with CSR colleagues and other business stakeholders to identify questions and criteria that encourage suppliers to make proposals for measurable contributions to our people and planet goals (see Supporting people and planet (new window)). Depending on the impact of the product or service, CSR considerations are given a weighting of between 10% and 20% in our scoring criteria. For 2024 and beyond, we have set the target of including CSR questions in 100% of our tenders.


As well as setting out our expectations of suppliers, we monitor their ESG performance to ensure they adhere to our requirements. VodafoneZiggo’s Environmental Management team assesses a selection of our partners every year, with the support of our CSR department.

Through our parent companies, Vodafone Group and Liberty Global, we are also supported by the telecom industry’s Joint Audit Committee (JAC) initiative. Collectively, JAC carries out international audits, including on-site inspections, of the social, ethical and environmental sustainability performance of influential suppliers, including providers of phone handsets, network equipment manufacturers and WiFi hardware.


The sustainability ratings platform EcoVadis (new window) is another important monitoring tool. By the end of 2023, we had successfully onboarded 298 of our main suppliers onto the platform. We are aiming for 325 and 350 in 2024 and 2025 respectively. While acknowledging that EcoVadis primarily measures the availability of data and the presence of policies rather than performance itself, we believe this information provides valuable insights into our key partners’ activities across the four EcoVadis assessment pillars: environment, labour and human rights, ethics and sustainable procurement.

We want our suppliers to score at least 50/100, which is the threshold for a bronze medal. As well as supporting them in reaching this score, we also encourage those that are already above this level to improve even further. In 2023, we issued more than 70 corrective action plans, tailored to fit each supplier’s area(s) of weakness as identified by the EcoVadis assessment. In 2024 and 2025, we aim to develop at least 80 corrective action plans, depending on the performance of our suppliers. We see this as a collaborative process between VodafoneZiggo and the supplier (and sometimes the supplier’s other customers), working actively with the partner to help them understand what is required and how to achieve this.

In addition to the baseline EcoVadis assessment, we used its specific carbon action module in 2023. By stimulating our suppliers to share their carbon-reduction policies, goals and data, we can build a clearer picture of their GHG emissions and waste. We intend to use these valuable insights to refine the calculation of our own value chain footprint.

We will continue to hold ourselves and our partners in the value chain to higher and higher standards.


VodafoneZiggo also undergoes an annual EcoVadis assessment. In 2023, we achieved a score of 72/100, improving on our 2022 score and again earning a gold medal. We aim to further improve our EcoVadis score, using this as motivation to accelerate our ESG performance relating to both the direct impact of our organisation and the indirect impact we have through our value chain. Our ultimate goal is to earn the Platinum medal, putting us in the top 1% of all rated companies.


In 2023, we renewed our purchasing contract for 100% Guarantee of Origin-certified renewable electricity. Having also secured 100% European Wind certificates for 2024, we are now looking into the possibility of signing long-term Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) from 2026 onwards. For more information on how we are improving the sustainability of our network, see Environmentally friendly working (new window).


It can be a challenge to balance the goal of responsible purchasing with the need to procure high-quality products that support us in providing an exceptional customer experience. Nevertheless, we believe our Progress for Everyone ambitions should not come at the expense of other people or of our planet. In the years ahead, we will continue to improve, monitor and report on the sustainability of purchasing at VodafoneZiggo, while driving stronger performance and greater transparency along our value chain. This in itself brings indirect benefits for customers, who are increasingly seeking out products and services with a more positive impact on society.

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