Material consumption and waste disposal can have serious impacts on our environment, communities and health. AT&T is committed to reducing, reusing and recycling waste in our operations and responsibly handling the waste we produce.
Our Goals & Progress
Reduce the amount of U.S. waste we send to landfill by 30% (2019 base year).
Progress: Reduction of 27.9%1
2022 waste sent to landfill totaled 110,063 metric tons (MT). This represents a reduction of 42,722 MT from our 2019 base year (152,784 MT). We will continue monitoring performance to determine whether COVID-19-related impacts are temporarily speeding our progress.
Waste Management Data
|Total domestic waste managed by AT&T (MT)45
|Total waste recycled/reused (MT)4
|Percent total waste recycled/reused4
|Total waste sent to landfill (MT)4
|Total domestic nonhazardous waste generated (MT)
|Total nonhazardous waste recycled (MT)
|Total nonhazardous waste sent to landfill (MT)
|Total nonhazardous waste incinerated (MT)
|Total nonhazardous waste composted (MT)6
|Total nonhazardous waste reused (MT)67
|Other nonhazardous waste, not specified (MT)78
|Total domestic hazardous waste generated (MT)
|Total hazardous waste recycled (MT)
|Total hazardous waste sent to landfill (MT)
|Total hazardous waste incinerated (MT)
|Other hazardous waste, not specified (MT)9
For more information, see our Sustainability Accounting Standards Board Index and Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures Report.
Our Actions & Impacts
In 2022, AT&T’s work to reduce and manage waste included:
- We began identifying and contracting with more vendors located in closer proximity to our waste streams. This has allowed us to recycle more waste while also reducing the need for transportation to distant recycling facilities.
- To improve data accuracy and compliance in our supply chain, we retrained our mobility and fleet vendors and their supporting vendors to follow AT&T’s processes and practices. We also uploaded 13,000 shipping documents from our fleet and mobility vendors into our internal waste tracking system, increasing data availability regarding total waste generated by AT&T. This effort will support more accurate reporting of our waste data in the future and help us better identify waste diversion solutions.
- Our Supply Chain and Asset Recovery (Asset Recovery) group focused on diverting fiber-optic cable and waste—such as contaminated plastic, cardboard and wood deemed unrecyclable—from landfill. Scrap fiber-optic cable can be shredded and milled to become components of roofing materials or burned for resalable steam energy. Our landfill diversion rate was 98.02% in 2022.10
Our operations generate various types of waste, including general solid waste, hazardous and regulated waste, retired network infrastructure and e-waste. Our approach to waste management involves reuse and recycling programs, as well as initiatives to reduce our overall waste footprint. Several organizations across our operating companies lead our waste recycling and management programs:
- Real Estate: Our real estate teams manage general solid waste at our corporate facilities and work with our waste vendors to measure waste and implement programs to encourage waste reduction, recycling and composting.
- Environment, Health & Safety: Our Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) team manages hazardous and other regulated waste generated by various AT&T operations, including the Construction and Engineering, Technical Field Services and Mobility business units. EHS also provides guidance to AT&T’s various business units regarding the recycling of batteries and e-waste and the management of other regulated wastes.
- Supply Chain: Our Global Supply Chain team works with several e-waste recyclers to manage electronics recycling. The Supply Chain Asset Recovery and Sustainability team focuses on the recycling and potential resale of high-volume common materials within our internal network operations.
Properly managing and reducing waste has significant environmental benefits, such as reduced soil and water pollution, and creates opportunities to recycle or repurpose materials. While we strive to reduce the amount of materials going to landfill and are making progress, the financials and unintended environmental impacts associated with recycling can make it challenging. For example, recyclable materials may be located far from a recycling facility, causing the carbon footprint associated with transporting the material to the recycling facility to outweigh the benefit of recycling. Further, we must ensure the accurate separation of materials to avoid contamination, which can result in recycling materials being sent to landfill and fines.
Despite these challenges, we continually work to expand our scope of waste reporting and to reduce the environmental impacts of our waste. In 2022, we managed 137,542 MT of general solid waste.1 We also began identifying and contracting with more vendors located in closer proximity to our waste streams. This has allowed us to recycle more materials while also reducing the need for transportation to distant recycling facilities. We also store recycled batteries and e-waste in nearby warehouses until we are able to transport them to a U.S.-based smelter. This allows us to make trips with the maximum capacity and improve trip efficiency. Even as our workforce has increased office occupancy, our solid waste footprint decreased 7.9%; this decrease includes the divestiture of WarnerMedia and DIRECTV.1
2022 highlights regarding solid waste include:
- Recycling: Our diversion rates with haulers worsened in 2022 by 4.2%.1 Of that total, 26,085 MT was recycled, resulting in a general solid waste diversion rate of 20.0%.
- Optimization: Our declining recycling rate is partially due to better monitoring and management of our waste services. In 2022, we deployed IOT sensors that determined our bins were on average 35% full at pickup. As a result of reducing those services, we saw a negative impact on our recycling percentage.
- Improving Data Accuracy: Accurate and timely data is the first step to effectively managing waste. We continued using our internal waste tracking system to track data. To improve data accuracy and compliance in our supply chain, in 2022, we retrained our mobility and fleet vendors and their supporting vendors to follow AT&T’s processes and practices. We also uploaded 13,000 shipping documents from our fleet and mobility vendors into our internal waste tracking system, increasing data availability regarding total waste generated by AT&T. This effort will support more accurate reporting of our waste data in the future and help us better identify waste diversion solutions.
- Minimizing Plastic Waste: AT&T works to reduce the amount of plastic used in our operations. Where plastic waste is identified in our waste stream, we work with our vendors to recycle plastic responsibly and sustainably. In 2022, plastic waste accounted for 10% of our total solid waste generation.
- Diverting Office Furniture: In 2022, we continued our Zero Waste Furniture Program, which aims to divert from landfill 90% or more of AT&T’s surplus office furniture—including office desks, tables, file cabinets, chairs, modular panels and office partitions. Our disposition strategy is to 1) reuse, 2) resell, 3) donate or 4) recycle. In 2022, the program achieved a 95% diversion rate—we recycled 1,203 tons, resold 308 tons and donated 104 tons.
- Collaborating With Vendors: All of our vendors are required to track and report on waste streams from origin to end of life. Through our efforts, we have diverted 20% of our waste from landfill. We continue to work with our vendors, other business units and their vendors on new innovations to further drive waste reduction.
Hazardous & Other Regulated Waste
Hazardous waste has the potential to harm people and the environment if not disposed of responsibly. AT&T’s primary hazardous waste includes compressed gas cylinders, aerosol cans, acidic wastes, batteries, contaminated soils and contaminated liquids. We are committed to responsibly managing these materials. This includes complying with all applicable environment, health and safety laws and regulations. We also promote pollution prevention through strategies like recycling and minimizing the generation of hazardous waste. In 2022, AT&T managed 23 metric tons of regulated waste, which includes hazardous and nonhazardous waste. We recycled 21 metric tons of this waste, and less than 0.05% of hazardous waste was sent to landfill.1 We improved our reporting capabilities, so our diversion rate more accurately reflects our performance. Our approach to hazardous waste and other regulated waste includes:
- Hazardous Waste Minimization Efforts: To minimize the impacts of hazardous waste, we first look to reduce the amount generated. If hazardous waste is generated, our highest priority is recycling, and we have implemented recycling programs for batteries and aerosol cans to divert those waste streams from landfill. Where there is no recycling or reuse option, hazardous waste is physically treated, incinerated or disposed of in an appropriate landfill as a last resort.
- Procedures & Tracking: AT&T has a formalized set of companywide procedures for managing and disposing of hazardous waste. In 2022, we enhanced our data collection systems and processes to ensure that records for hazardous and other regulated waste disposal are gathered in one place for comprehensive tracking. This helps to ensure compliance and improve the accuracy of waste reporting and metrics for our business units that directly hire vendors to manage this waste.
Asset Recovery & Sustainability
The AT&T Wireline Transformation and Asset Recovery group establishes practices that minimize the environmental impact of our company-generated waste and e-waste. Their approach includes:
- R2 Certification: Asset Recovery works with our contracted vendors, all of whom are R2 certified, to recover and recycle network infrastructure assets.
- The R2 certification is a comprehensive global certification awarded to facilities that adhere to responsible electronics recycling standards.
- Materials are dismantled, sorted and baled by commodity in preparation for sale or recycling. Scrap materials processed by Asset Recovery include copper and fiber-optic telecommunications wire and central office equipment.
- Fiber-Optic Cable & Waste Diversion: In 2022, Asset Recovery focused on diverting fiber-optic cable and waste—such as contaminated plastic, cardboard and wood deemed unrecyclable—from landfill. Scrap fiber-optic cable can be shredded and milled to become components of roofing materials or burned for resalable steam energy. Due to our efforts, our landfill diversion rate for fiber-optic cable and waste was 98.02% in 2022.10
- Domestic Waste Diversion: In 2022, Asset Recovery handled 18,993 metric tons of domestic U.S. operational waste and kept 18,617 metric tons of these materials from landﬁlls.10
- Waste Incineration: All waste that Asset Recovery incinerates is incinerated for energy recovery.
- Removing Our Waste: When AT&T vacates facilities and outside plant infrastructure, our teams remove all regulated materials and coordinate with vendors to recycle and dispose of the materials in an appropriate manner. We remove aerial cables and process underground cables based on municipality-specific rules. Our material removal process varies by site to adhere to local waste removal regulations and guidelines.
AT&T seeks to keep electronic materials out of landfill through reuse programs. We believe all electronic devices should be reused, refurbished or recycled, and we encourage our customers to participate in e-waste reduction efforts. Our approach to e-waste includes:
- Internal E-Waste: AT&T is committed to managing our internal electronic waste in a responsible manner. AT&T’s internal electronic device waste, as well as assets and materials managed by our Asset Recovery group, is responsibly recycled with R2-certified vendors. We follow the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive for electronic waste disposal.
- Industry Collaboration: AT&T is collaborating with peers through wireless industry group GSMA workgroups focused on consumer device and network equipment recycling.
To learn more about our product recycling and reuse and our sustainable packaging eﬀorts, please visit our Product Life Cycle issue brief. For information about recycling AT&T devices, visit our device recycling website.
Our Path Forward
Many materials can be reused or repurposed instead of being immediately thrown into the landfill. We are committed to reducing our waste generation and increasing diversion from landfill through the following:
- We will continue to work with our fleet and mobility vendors to improve record-keeping, enhance our waste management processes and provide education on how they can best support AT&T practices and procedures.
- We will continue identifying and contracting with vendors located in closer proximity to our waste streams to reduce emissions resulting from the transportation of AT&T waste.
- 2022 data is inclusive of AT&T Communications, U.S. operations.
- AT&T’s total waste and recycling ﬁgures represent cumulative waste from AT&T’s U.S. e-waste, general solid waste, furniture recycling, paper shredding, pallet recycling, asset recovery and regulated (hazardous and nonhazardous) waste programs. Please note that waste data may not be complete due to the challenge of getting all business unit (BU) direct vendor hires to upload final shipping documents to the central waste tracking system. Our EHS team is continually working with BUs to ensure vendors submit all final shipping documents to the central tracking system for reporting.
- 2022 data is inclusive of AT&T Communications, U.S. operations. 2019–2021 data is inclusive of AT&T Communications and select WarnerMedia and Xandr locations. 2018 data does not include WarnerMedia or Xandr. DIRECTV is included in all data through the end of 2021. Vrio is not included. Note: In July 2021, we completed a transaction with TPG Capital involving our North America video business—including DIRECTV, AT&T TV and U-verse—to form a new company called DIRECTV. In November 2021, we completed the sale of our Latin America video operations, Vrio, to Grupo Werthein.
- 2018 data for waste generation and management represents all waste accounted for through AT&T Inc.’s domestic U.S. general solid waste and hazardous waste programs. The 2019–2021 data for waste generation and management represents all waste accounted for through AT&T Inc.’s domestic U.S. general solid waste, asset recovery, e-waste, furniture recycling, paper shredding and regulated (hazardous and nonhazardous) waste programs, unless otherwise noted. 2022 data is inclusive of AT&T Communications, U.S. operations.
- 2022 data includes total waste recycled/reused and total waste sent to landfill, as well as total waste composted and total waste managed through other means.
- Due to improved reporting, total nonhazardous waste composted and reused was included in distinct categories for the first time in 2020.
- This category does not include WarnerMedia donations to local community partners, as donated materials are tracked by number of pieces donated, not weight.
- This category represents nonhazardous waste for which data on the management method was unavailable. AT&T is continually updating the vendor submittal process to integrate enhanced waste reporting metrics into contracts.
- This category consists of hazardous waste for which the waste management vendors did not report the final disposal method, primarily because they were consolidated with wastes from other companies at the treatment, storage and disposal facilities prior to final disposition. Our EHS Waste team is continually working with those vendors to more accurately report the final disposition of all AT&T hazardous waste.
- 2022 data covers the central offices of AT&T’s wireline, longlines and DIRECTV business, as well as outside plant and some mobility locations in the contiguous U.S.
Last Updated: 10/10/2023
Related Priority Topics
- Climate Change Governance
- Climate Change Strategy
- GHG Emissions Inventory
- Renewable Energy
- Energy Efficiency Projects
- Energy Management Platform
- EHS Policies
- Assessments & Inspections
- Occupational Health & Safety
- Product Sustainability
- Packaging & Paper
- Refurbishment & Recycling
- Supply Chain Resilience
- Supplier Sustainability
- Supplier Diversity
- Water Footprint
- Water Conservation Efforts