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Virgin Media O2 reduces carbon emissions by 23%

May 7, 2024

Virgin Media O2 reports it reduced carbon emissions (Scopes 1 and 2) by 23 per cent in 2023 – the equivalent of emissions caused by the annual combined energy usage of 14,883 UK homes.

Since launching its sustainability strategy, the Better Connections Plan, in 2022, the company has reduced such emissions by 45 per cent against its 2020 baseline, and is on track to achieve net zero carbon emissions across its operations, products and supply chain by the end of 2040 – 10 years ahead of the UK’s net zero goal.

Virgin Media O2’s Sustainability Performance Update also shows that during 2023 the company’s products and services have now prevented almost 60 million tonnes of carbon entering the Earth’s atmosphere – for example through powering Internet of Things applications such as smart metering, supporting customers to be more sustainable and preventing carbon emissions from either cars or public transport. Meanwhile, it increased its electric fleet to 281 vehicles as part of its overall target to transition to a fully EV fleet by 2030.


The company supported consumers to carry out 2.2 million ‘circular actions’ last year, which can include recycling old tech or buying ‘like new’ refurbished smartphones. Virgin Media O2 has now powered 4.7 million ‘circular actions’, against its 10 million goal by the end of 2025.

The O2 Recycle scheme, which is open to anyone regardless of their mobile network, saw almost 250,000 devices saved from landfill last year – which were either repaired, refurbished and resold, or recycled – with zero parts going to landfill. The scheme, which has also recently been expanded to consoles and MacBooks, has paid out £341 million to customers since its launch in 2009.

As part of its target to achieve zero waste operations and products by 2025, Virgin Media O2 has also removed 65 tonnes of single-use plastic since 2021 – the equivalent weight of five double-decker buses. Meanwhile, 11 million routers and set-top boxes have now been refurbished and reused since 2014.

Digital inclusion

Through its partnerships with Internet Matters and digital inclusion charity, Good Things Foundation, Virgin Media O2 helped to improve the digital skills of two million people in 2023, and is on track to reach six million by 2025.

In addition, the company supported more than 100,000 people to get online with its initiatives such as the National Databank, which is like a foodbank for free O2 mobile data, texts and calls; through the Tech Lending Hubs with charity Hubbub, where people in need can be loaned tablets to access essential websites; and via Essential Broadband, a social broadband tariff for customers in receipt of  benefits.

Furthermore, the National Databank has now been extended to all O2-owned stores and has provided a total of 41,933 O2 SIM cards and 188,149 O2 data vouchers since launch.

Take-up of social broadband tariffs – Essential Broadband and Essential Broadband Plus – also increased by 285% last year, driven by a concerted effort by the company to raise awareness among customers – for example through providing clear information in five million customers’ bills.

The company also continues to provide social broadband tariffs to customers in receipt of benefits, with uptake having increased by 285 per cent last year.

Lutz Schüler, CEO of Virgin Media O2, said: “Our Better Connections Plan makes clear that we are a business that aims to deliver for our customers, for our communities and for our planet, and we made further strong progress across the board last year. We are on track to meet our targets to cut Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 60% by 2025 and deliver net zero carbon by 2040. We are supporting decarbonisation through the products and services we provide, encouraging circular actions among consumers, cutting our own use of plastic, and stepping up to support the communities we serve through initiatives designed to boost skills, tackle digital exclusion and provide free data and devices to those in need. As a major UK business, we’re committed to reducing our environmental impact as we continue to provide fast and reliable connectivity to our millions of customers.”

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