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How a full fibre broadband network can help the UK to build back greener


3 min read Partner content

Openreach is connecting even more of the UK to full fibre broadband – but it has also scaled up its commitments to sustainability, social responsibility and cutting waste.

Openreach is rolling out full fibre broadband faster than ever. We recently achieved our target of making full fibre broadband available to 4.5 million premises across the UK, and we are now on track to get it to 20 million premises (nearly two thirds of the UK) by the mid to late 2020s.

This improved connectivity could cut 300 million commuter trips and reduce CO2 emissions by an estimated 700,000 tonnes each year, according to the Centre for Economics & Business Research. And as Openreach connects even more of the UK’s families, businesses and public sector organisations to ultrafast, ultra-reliable broadband, it is vitally important that we do this sustainably. 

So, by 2025 we want 100% of the plastic packaging we procure to be re-used, recycled or composted. We’re also making big changes to our fleet of vehicles – the second largest in the UK – with a commitment to go fully electric by 2030. This year we smashed our plastic target and removed 70 tonnes – 40% more than planned – from our supply chain by working with key suppliers to remove unnecessary plastic packaging from their products.

For example, to connect premises to the fibre network we use connectorised block terminals. These crucial pieces of equipment were arriving in brittle plastic packaging that went straight into skips, but we have now moved to cardboard, pizza-style boxes that are easy to recycle and take up much less space. We've also introduced a re-usable drum that saves wooden reels being thrown away.

In addition, a ‘blue rope’ trial has saved 8 tonnes of plastic from going to landfill. Blue rope is critical to rollout, as it we use it to pull cables through ducts, but it has a high plastic content. So we changed the way we collected the used rope and now send it for recycling and reuse.

To further reduce waste and skip collections we’re planning to introduce an alternative rope with a lower plastic content.

An important part of the change has been making all our colleagues are aware of what they should be recycling or reusing, and helping them to do it effectively. For example, we’ve started to make sure that any damaged equipment is triaged to see what can be repaired and reused.

It’s crucial we build back better as the UK recovers from the pandemic – but Openreach is also focused on building back greener.

For more information about Openreach’s policies please contact:

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