Environmental sustainability is key when it comes to Spark driving innovation in New Zealand. Spark believes that sustainable business practices mean greater competitive advantage in the long term.

Annual Report 2021

Our sustainability measures and performance are included as part of our 2021 Annual Report.

Read the report

Spark's science-based emissions reduction target

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is established as the global standard for corporate emissions reduction targets. Over 800 organisations have set verified emissions reduction targets since it launched in 2015.

All SBTi targets must have a strict absolute reduction target for Scope 1 and 2 emissions, and also include a separate Scope 3 target if these emissions are greater than 40% of the total footprint.
SBTi targets are set against sector-specific emissions trajectories. The ICT sector pathways were developed with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and provide specific emissions reductions for mobile and fixed networks, and datacentres, based on projected growth and efficiency gains. These reductions are then calculated against our own emissions profile and the share of our emissions from each activity, giving a reduction target of 56% over the next decade. Our analysis shows this is ambitious, but also achievable over time.

We expect to see efficiency gains across our operations, although this will be offset by growth as we rollout our 5G network, support our customers to move to the cloud, and invest in our core infrastructure.
Electricity accounts for over 80% of our Scope 1 and 2 emissions and our biggest opportunity to reduce our emissions is therefore renewable electricity production. While we will benefit from expected grid decarbonisation, we must still focus on energy efficiency within our own operations and addressing other sources of emissions.

Emissions Target

For our value chain target we analysed our Scope 3 emissions using a mix of supplier data and New Zealand-specific Consumption-based Greenhouse Gas Emissions Input-Output Model factors. This informed a target that 70% of our suppliers by spend, covering purchased goods and services and capital goods, will have SBTi-aligned targets in place by 2026.
Analysis of our largest suppliers shows that many are already leading the way, with existing SBTi-aligned targets in place covering approximately 25% of our current spend, with a further 24% by spend in the process of establishing SBTi-aligned targets.

Our greenhouse gas emissions FY21

Over the past year dry hydrological conditions have seen a significant increase in non-renewable electricity generation on the New Zealand grid, which has increased our emissions per unit of electricity by 26%. This has driven up our Scope 2 emissions by 22%. Improvements in energy efficiency, and a significant drop in business travel, have offset some of this growth, with overall emissions increasing 8%.

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Our emissions reporting boundary is defined by an operational control approach and includes Spark and its subsidiaries.

The majority of emissions factors used in our reporting are sourced from the Ministry for the Environment Guide:  Measuring Emissions: Detailed Guide 2020

Scope 2 emissions are reported using a market-based emissions factor.

Using a location-based emissions factor for Scope 2 emissions would reduce reported Scope 2 emissions for FY21 0.8%, from 20.3 ktonnes CO2e to 19.3 ktonnes CO2e

Network efficiency

Over the past year we have continued our programme of network simplification. The programme includes the decommissioning of legacy equipment such as the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Each PSTN switch decommissioned results in a significant electricity saving, which is contributing towards our emissions reduction target and offsetting growth in other areas of our infrastructure. Over FY21 we saw a 5% reduction in electricity use across our exchanges and main network sites.

Business travel

We also saw an 80% reduction in emissions from business travel, saving around 2,800 tonnes of CO2e. The impacts of Covid-19 restrictions continued from the previous year, and alongside the continuation of many of the good practices adopted through lockdowns, with many of our interactions with customers and other stakeholders moved online. We recorded a significant drop in domestic travel, and international travel reduced to close to zero.

Our fleet

Our fleet is responsible for around 5% of our reported emissions. In the past year we continued to transition our vehicles away from traditional petrol and diesel vehicles to hybrid, plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and pure electric vehicles (EVs). Our focus for FY21 was replacing older vehicles with newer hybrids, including the introduction of Toyota RAV4 hybrids for many of our vehicles used for longer journeys.

We also transitioned all of our pool vehicle fleet at our Auckland Spark City offices to EVs.

At the end of FY21 we had only nine pure petrol or diesel vehicles remaining in our core fleet of 229 vehicles. We have a further 214 vehicles assigned to individuals or subsidiaries.
Over the past year the share of EVs and PHEVs in our core fleet increased to 44%. Non plug-in hybrids make up 52% of the remaining fleet.

Our historic emissions reporting FY16 – FY20

In order to set a SBTi target we refreshed our FY20 emissions inventory and reporting methodology, which has also been applied to our FY21 emissions reporting. We are shifting our emissions reporting processes in-house to provide more frequent internal reporting of our environmental performance to better inform decision making and support progress towards our emissions reduction target.

A variance between our previously reported FY20 emissions is due to updated emission factors, updated measurement protocols and updated assumptions covering waste, water, retail stores and customer electricity use. We include our previous emissions reporting here for reference. Our new science-based emissions reduction target supersedes our previous emissions reduction target, set in 2016, to reduce our emissions by 25% by 2025 against FY16 baseline. Our emissions had been flat between FY16 and FY20. Our new 56% reduction target by FY30 from a FY20 baseline sets a sharper reduction pathway to 2025.

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E-waste and network recyclingSpark has a comprehensive programme for managing end-of-life network equipment and technology. This is separated into different waste streams – such as mobile phones, printed circuit boards, copper cables, lead batteries and all types of metals. The different items are sorted, processed by our recycling partners and then some components are sent overseas for recycling, reselling, or reusing.
In FY21 we recovered a total of 638 tonnes of e-waste, an increase of 27% on last year. Of this, 132 tonnes was network e-waste (down 33% on FY20), and 506 tonnes was metals, cables, and batteries (up 67%), mainly due to the replacement of exchange batteries and associated infrastructure. We continue to improve our recycling collections focusing on education within Spark and working with some of our larger customers to support them to responsibly recycle their surplus equipment.

Mobile phone recyling

Spark is a member of the Telecommunication Forum’s (TCF) RE:MOBILE product stewardship scheme. The scheme takes unused mobile phones, and either refurbishes and on-sells them in overseas markets or recycles them. Any profits from the scheme are donated to the charity Sustainable Coastlines.
In FY21 Spark recycled 28,715 mobile devices through the RE:MOBILE scheme, up from 24,929 in FY20. We are working with our industry partners and the TCF to boost the awareness of the scheme and overcome the barriers consumers experience in recycling their devices.
In the past year the Spark Foundation also funded the Recycle A Device (RAD) scheme to collect and refurbish used laptops for students and others in need of a device.