Sustainability and the Environment in 2013

Energy reduction and waste management represent our two largest environmental impacts and are the principal focus areas for our environmental management program. We have set goals in each area to help drive our performance.

More than a million pounds of e-waste have been collected at Verizon Recycling Rallies.


* The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program of the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED certification indicates a building was designed, constructed and operated to ensure energy savings, water efficiency, and diversion of construction waste among other qualitative and quantitative measures.
** The 33 percent includes handsets collected via trade-in, HopeLine as well as Extended Warranty, Non-Extended Warranty (CLNR devices) and Total Equipment Coverage / Wireless Phone Protection plans.
^ Paper that has post-consumer content of at least 30 percent recycled material or certified virgin fiber that comes from responsible sources such as the Forest Stewardship Council or Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

Energy Reduction

It takes a lot of energy to power our wireline and wireless communications networks around the globe – more than 10 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually. In fact, with over 46,000 cell sites, 120 million square feet of real estate, and 200 data centers, carbon emissions associated with our energy use represent our principal environmental impact. That’s why for more than a decade, we have focused on improving our overall energy efficiency to reduce both our costs and our environmental footprint.

The electricity to run our networks represents our largest energy category,

accounting for more than 92% of our carbon emissions in 2012 and 2013. The carbon associated with the energy to fuel our fleet represents the second largest category at approximately 6% in 2013. The fuel to heat our buildings and run our back-up generators accounted for approximately 2% of our emissions in 2013.

We have long been focused on network energy efficiency. In 2009, we set energy efficiency standards for network equipment that continue to enable our suppliers to deliver equipment that is consistently more energy efficient than the equipment it replaces.

Building Operations

In our building operations, pursuit of ENERGY STAR and LEED certification has helped us to significantly reduce energy usage. To date, Verizon Wireless has 141 certified ENERGY STAR retail stores and 172 LEED certified retail stores.

We are also incorporating green strategies into our data center operations. In 2013 the savings in our six domestic data centers totaled 10.8M kWh and 21.6 million gallons of water. The savings were achieved by installing solar panels, improving air handling and fan operations, upgrading chiller units and installing lighting controls and LED lighting. The water savings was achieved through various water treatment and condenser upgrades.

Our Network Operations group completed “smart building technology” projects at 35 central offices in 2013 (34 domestic and 1 international) using Vigilent energy management systems. The projects accounted for 35 million kWh of annualized energy savings.

In 2013, we modified our generators at over 26,000 cell sites to be ready to start when needed at a lower temperature, reducing the amount of electricity required and reducing CO2 emissions by more than 42 million metric tons. The installation of HVAC economizers on select cell sites increased the use of outside air to cool the buildings, which reduced CO2 emissions by approximately 8.9 million metric tons.

Making Our Buildings Greener

Since Verizon started certifying retail stores in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program in 2009, 172 of our stores have earned LEED certification.

LEED Certification indicates a building was designed, constructed, and is operated to ensure energy savings, emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality and effective stewardship of resources.

Verizon Wireless was also named as an ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year in 2013—the first and only wireless company to win this award.

“Verizon is a source of inspiration for other retailers who are looking to improve building performance, reduce cost, improve comfort, and optimize operations.”
--Rick Fedrizzi President, CEO, Founding Chair U.S. Green Building

Green Energy Initiatives

In 2013, we announced an investment of over $100 million in a solar and fuel cell energy project that will help power Verizon facilities across the country. By year-end we implemented 12.4MW of solar and fuel cells, with another 2.6MW near completion, surpassing our goal to implement 10MW. In total, the systems are expected to produce more than 89M kWh of electricity in year one to power our critical data centers, central offices, and office buildings across six states. This effort will also eliminate more than 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide— enough to offset the annual CO2 emissions from more than 1 million gallons of gas.

Additionally, Verizon expanded its partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to test whether combinations of solar, wind, battery and generator systems can be efficiently deployed at remote cell sites.

Six cell sites were identified for review, bringing our total to 12 (six were selected in 2012).  All of the sites are far away from the utility power grid and currently use propane generators as the source of power.  Initial findings are impressive, promising significant savings in fuel, operating costs and CO2 emissions. At one location a hybrid power system configuration could power the cell site with up to 89% renewable energy.

Carbon Intensity

All of our energy efficiency strategies support our ultimate goal of cutting our carbon intensity—carbon emissions produced per terabyte of data flowing through our networks—in half by 2020 over the 2009 baseline.

View here for an explanation of our carbon emissions accounting methodology.

Assurance Report from Ernst & Young

We believe that independent assurance reassures readers that the information we publish is accurate, complete and material, and therefore contributes to building trust and credibility.

We engaged Ernst & Young to perform an independent review of our 2013 carbon intensity metric and our greenhouse gas emissions reporting (Scope 1, 2 and 3). Ernst and Young completed limited assurance, in accordance with industry standards, and nothing came to their attention that would lead them to believe that our data presentation is not accurate or complete. Read Ernst & Young's assurance report.

Fleet Operations

Verizon has implemented our Networkfleet product in approximately 18,000 company vehicles. Networkfleet allows us to optimize fuel consumption, monitor for mechanical issues, and provide customized, just-in-time maintenance. Improved fleet performance not only reduces costly mechanical issues, but it also decreases fuel consumption and associated carbon emissions. Monitoring also allows us to configure the fleet so that the right number of vehicles are in the right place at the right time, reducing idling and therefore, emissions. Additionally, in 2013, we replaced approximately 1,000 full-size service vehicles with smaller mini-vans that achieve greater fuel economy than the vehicles they replaced.

  2011 2012 2013
Biofuel 730 435 0*
CNG 514 514 516
Electric 10 10 10
Hybrid 1,303 1,267 1,270
SmartWay Logistics 12 12 12
Total Green Vehicles 2,569 2,238 1,808

* Verizon’s fleet still includes large numbers of E85 and Biodiesel capable vehicles, but biofuel is not part of our strategy going forward.

Managing Waste

We also understand that our products represent a significant component of our environmental footprint.  While we do not manufacture the devices we sell, we work with our suppliers to encourage greener designs and to offer responsible reuse and recycling options for customers when they look to switch out devices.

Device Recycling

Our device recycling program allows customers to trade-in phones, tablets, and other wireless devices—regardless of when or where they were purchased—at our stores or online for a Verizon gift card that they can use toward a purchase or to pay their bill.  We make a contribution to our HopeLine program for every phone recycled through this program. Our goal: a 33% recycling rate by 2015. We’ve kept 850 tons of e-waste out of the landfill since 2010.

Changes in Verizon Branded Accessory Packaging

In addition, we have placed a significant focus on reducing the packaging associated with cell phone accessories—chargers, batteries, ear phones, etc.  In 2013, Verizon Wireless switched its packaging for Verizon-branded accessories to materials sourced from post-consumer waste sources.

Network Equipment Recycling  

We also have internal recycling programs that focus on the proper disposition of old network equipment, lead acid batteries, and office paper and cardboard, all to reduce the landfilling of material and to turn our waste into raw materials for other processes.

Curbing eWaste

Verizon also set the goal to recycle 2 million pounds of e-waste by 2015 at our public Recycling Rallies, which expand the impact of our recycling beyond our operations into communities. 1.5 million pounds of e-waste have been collected since 2010.

HopeLine Recycling

Our HopeLine program, which turns no-longer-used cell phones into lifelines of support for domestic violence victims and survivors, has also delivered significant recycling benefits since 2011. 

Since the program began in 2001, we have collected more than 10.8 million phones through our stores and other points nationwide.  More than 2.43 million phones have been disposed of in an environmentally sound way.  The remaining units were refurbished, which has funded more than $21.4 million in cash grants for domestic violence organizations across the country.

Recycled Paper Program

Verizon has long used post-consumer recycled papers in its direct mailings to consumers.  In 2013 the use of these products resulted in annual savings of more than 115 metric tons of greenhouse gases and more than 455 tons of wood. 

Greener Cafeterias

In 2013, we began an internal certification process to Green Certify our cafeterias based on four criteria: reusable mug programs, waste tracking, recycling programs, and fryer oil recycling.

Verizon Recycling

Verizon Recycling, 2013 Weight (lbs.)
Lead acid batteries 8.35 million
Other batteries* 343,916
Telecom equipment 32.46 million
Paper and cardboard 55.46 million
Total 96.61 million

* Alkaline, nickel cadmium, nickel iron, nickel metal hydride, carbon zinc, zinc air, lithium ion, lithium metal, and magnesium.

Engaging Our Suppliers

Our commitment to sustainability extends throughout our supply chain.

Since 2011 we have conducted an annual Supplier Sustainability Assessment to evaluate our suppliers’ sustainability strategy, greenhouse gas (CO2) emissions, solid waste management, water use and management, packaging practices, and sustainability in subcontracting.

We established a goal that, by 2015, 40% of our supplier spending would be with firms that measure and set public targets to reduce CO2 emissions. By the end of 2013, more than 50% of our spending met the criteria.

Our new goal: 55% by 2015.

Engaging Employees and the Community

Verizon held 43 recycling events across the country in 2013, encouraging employees and their neighbors to bring in no-longer-used electronics gear, phones, and supplies. Over 360,000 pounds of material (equivalent to 522 metric tons of CO2 offset) was collected from more than 4,800 participants. Approximately 1,000 phones were collected for HopeLine and over 200 boxes of supplies were donated to local charities.

  • Almost 13,500 employees representing 26 countries are now members of the Verizon Green Team. Team members implemented numerous energy efficiency programs at their work locations, including leading community recycling events at 18 locations across the U.S., on America Recycles Day.


Employee team-building exercises now have a green angle. Several of our employee groups have taken up “Go Green Racing”, a team-building project that involves building and racing a solar-powered car from a kit. The cars that have been built to date—along with new car kits—have been donated to local schools to incorporate into their science curriculum. Those schools are: Patrick Healy Middle School in East Orange, NJ, the Bronx Academy of Promise in New York and Long Branch Middle School in Long Branch, NJ.


  • Verizon was the first Super Bowl sponsor focused on Sustainability. As part of our commitment, we worked with the Super Bowl Host Committee and the NFL to plant over 27,000 trees and shrubs across all New York City boroughs and nine counties in New Jersey. We also hosted two Super Bowl e-waste recycling rallies collecting over eight thousand pounds of equipment.


  • In 2013, Verizon received 74 notices regarding compliance issues with state and local environmental regulations. Most were for recordkeeping or other minor issues and did not affect the environment. All notices have been or are in process of being resolved.