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.

Digital technology can enable a low carbon NZ

To help ensure that Aotearoa realises the full potential that digital technology can bring to the climate challenge, Spark and sustainability consultancy thinkstep-anz have developed research that quantifies the emission reductions that can be enabled and identifies opportunities across different sectors.

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Our sustainability measures and performance

Our sustainability measures and performance are included as part of our 2023 Annual Report.

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Reporting our greenhouse gas emissions

Our Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report includes detailed reporting on our emissions. The report is prepared in accordance with The Greenhouse Gas Protocol. 

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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.

Over the past year the percentage of our spend with suppliers with SBTI-aligned targets in place is approximately 33%, the majority of which have been verified by the SBTI. Around 23% of our spend is with suppliers that have publicly committed to setting targets within the next two years. 

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.  

Last year, we recovered a total of 559 tonnes of e-waste, up slightly from 545 tonnes from the previous year. Of this, 154 tonnes was network e-waste and 405 tonnes was metals, cables, and batteries.

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 recycling

In the last year Spark received 14,913 mobile devices for recycling. As mobile devices are becoming more advanced and robust their lifecycles have extended, meaning customers are replacing their devices less frequently and we are experiencing a lower volume of recycling as a result.   

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. Profit from the scheme is donated to the charity Sustainable Coastlines.  

Electrical and electronic products have been designated as Priority Products under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008. Designation as a priority product means that an accredited Product Stewardship Scheme must be implemented to manage waste streams associated with the product categories.  

The RE:MOBILE scheme was one of the first industry schemes voluntarily accredited by the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) under the provisions of the Act. Since the Priority Product designation, the Product Stewardship Scheme accreditation lapsed in April 2021. The TCF is working closely with MfE to work through the new accreditation process. In the meantime, MfE has confirmed that it will continue to support and recognise the scheme whilst reaccreditation is being worked through.

We are working with our industry partners and the TCF to boost the awareness of the scheme and to overcome the barriers consumers experience in recycling their devices.  Alongside the Spark Foundation, we also support the Recycle A Device (RAD) scheme to collect and refurbish used laptops for students and others in need of a device.