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Social Challenge 2
Implementing closed loop recycling


Why it matters

Although our one-way society of mass production, mass consumption, and mass disposal has brought affluence and convenience to our lives, it has brought about various problems such as the creation of massive amounts of refuse, illegal dumping and concern about the depletion of natural resources. To resolve these issues we must first review how companies manage their businesses as well as our social and economic systems, and shift to a closed loop society.

What can be accomplished

In an effort to realize a future with closed loop recycling, the NTT Group promotes the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle), working to reduce the amount of materials consumed by our business activities and reuse or recycle the resources that are consumed.

Future vision

We will shift from a one-time use consumption-oriented company to a recycling-oriented one. We will promote the effective use of resources throughout the entire life cycle of products and systems, from procurement to use and disposal.

Business Activity 6
Increasing the reuse and recycling of Communications equipment, mobile devices, and other technologies

Our commitment

Promoting the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle), working to reduce the amount of materials consumed by our business activities and reuse or recycle the resources that are consumed

Our objective

99% or higher

FY2030: Recycling ratio of disposed waste generated by the NTT Group

Targets and Results

The NTT Group has established a target for achieving a 99% or higher recycling ratio of disposed waste generated by the NTT Group by fiscal 2030.

We require a large amount of resources in order to sustain our business operations and provide various services including information communication. This is why we have set a target to contribute to both the avoidance of business continuity risks and achievement of closed loop recycling.

In fiscal 2020, the recycling ratio of disposed waste was 98.4%. We will continue to work hard to promote the 3Rs toward our goal of 99% or higher. Regarding decommissioned telecommunications equipment, we have achieved zero emissions (1% or lower final disposal ratio of waste) for 17 consecutive years since fiscal 2004.

Main Initiatives

The NTT Group owns various types of telecommunications equipment and related items including telephone poles, switching equipment, communications cables, public telephone booths, and public telephones. These are decommissioned and disposed of when they reach the end of their service life or are replaced during system upgrades for new services and so forth. We promote the reuse, or recycling, of telecommunications equipment within the NTT Group; for example: recycling concrete waste from discarded concrete poles as road building material. Public telephone booths and public telephones are taken to a specialized intermediate treatment plant, where parts of the booths are sorted into aluminum, stainless steel, glass, and plastic. Similarly, the baseboards, copper wires, and various plastics in the public telephones are meticulously sorted. They are then sent to a recycling plant to become recycled materials such as rare metals, copper, and pellets. The recycling rate there is reflected in the precision, as a result of careful hand sorting, at the intermediate treatment plant. To prevent the inappropriate treatment of the materials, such as illegal dumping, NTT East collaborated with NTT-ME to construct a system that uses GPS and photography to confirm proper disposal from the site of discharge to the disposal plant.

Recycling Process for Mobile Phones

Since 1998, NTT DOCOMO has collected used mobile phones from customers at its approximately 2,300 docomo shops throughout Japan, and through various events. Containing gold, silver, copper, palladium, and other metals, mobile phones could be regarded as a valuable recycling resource in Japan with its paucity of mineral resources.

1. In fiscal 2020, we collected about 3.09 million*1 mobi le phones, br inging our cumulative total to 118.32 million units collected.

2. In fiscal 2011, the company introduced a new recycling process for pyrolyzing any plastic used in mobile phones to turn it into oil for use as a fuel, after which gold, silver, and other metals are recovered from the residues of this process.

  1. The number of units collected for reuse is included in the figure after fiscal 2015.


Tokyo 2020 Medal Project

■Collection period

April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2019

■Volume collected

Collected by NTT DOCOMO (collection of mobile phones)

Approx. 6.21 million units

(equivalent to 5,000 gold, silver, and bronze medals)

Collected by participating municipalities around Japan
(collection of small household appliances including mobile phones)

Approx. 78,985 tons



Held in Japan for the first time in 56 years, the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics featured 55 different sports events, far exceeding the 29 types at the 1964 Summer Olympics and Paralympics held in Tokyo in 1964. Hopes were high for the Japanese team to win an impressive medal haul. The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games kicked off the "Tokyo 2020 Medal Project--Making medals using urban mines" citizenparticipatory project from April 2017. Medals were made using gold, silver, and copper metals recycled from discarded electronic devices, including mobile phones and other small household appliances. Used mobile phones were collected at DOCOMO shops throughout the country, with existing recycling processes used to assist with the project.

In 2017, the number of households using mobile devices as telecommunications equipment was 94.8%. Of this figure, smartphones made up 75.1%*1, exceeding that of personal computers. As information devices that are essential for day-todaylife, results of a consumer trend survey indicate that people upgraded their mobile phones every four or so years. This was the first project of its kind in the world that aimed to achieve a 100% recycling rate for used mobile phones and other small household appliances, so that they can be remade into medals as part of a recycling program for these valuable resources.

Containing gold, silver, copper, palladium, and other metals, mobile phones contain extremely valuable resources in Japan, where such mineral resources are scarce. Used mobile phones were collected at the approximately 2,300 DOCOMO shops located throughout Japan. Initiatives aimed at recycling were extensive, and included collection of recyclable materials at a wide range of events throughout the duration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as collection activities organized by Tokyo 2020 Olympic partner companies. This project left a lasting legacy, as 2020 led to recycling of small household appliances becoming ingrained by the people, helping to achieve an environmentally friendly, sustainable society.

  1. 2018 Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Information and Communications in Japan Whitepaper, ICT Service Utilization

NTT Communications

Sustainable Systems Produced by Subsea Cable Recycling

The normal length of subsea cables installed in Japan's territorial waters is 20 to 30 km per cable run, but the cable managed by NTT Communications connecting Kagoshima Prefecture with Okinawa Prefecture is 250 km in length as it passes through various islands en route. The cable went out of service in 2018 and was expected to result in about 850 tons of waste, presenting a significant challenge in terms of environmental impact and disposal costs. Therefore, NTT Communications concluded an agreement with South Africa's Mertech Marine, the only operator in the world capable of completely disassembling subsea cables to the level of raw materials, to develop a new scheme for controlling both environmental impact and disposal costs by recycling 99% of the cable that requires disposal. It is also contributing to creating regional safety nets through Marine Mertech with the employment of unskilled workers and donations to non-profit organizations engaged in initiatives such as supporting impoverished families.


Business Activity 7-8
Reduction in plastics use and promotion of recycling Proper treatment, storage, and management of hazardous waste

Our commitment

Reduction in plastics use and promotion of recycling Proper treatment, storage, and management of hazardous waste

Our objective

Reduction in plastics use and promotion of recycling of plastics including telecommunications equipment, hazardous waste disposed of in compliance with laws and regulations, and ensure proper storage, management, and disposal.

Reduction in Plastics Use and Promotion of Recycling

The NTT Group is seeking to reduce the use of plastics and promoting recycling. For example, plastic parts of telecommunications equipment such as coverings for branch lines and ready access terminal boxes are used in a closed recycling system in which similar types of disposed covers are recycled into plastics to manufacture new products. We are also seeking to abolish the use of plastic packaging materials for devices used at customers' homes when connecting optical lines such as optical network units (ONU) and home gateway (HGW) units.

Hazardous Waste

For NTT Group operations, hazardous waste as defined by law applies to asbestos contained in waste generated from construction work on relay stations, waste such as transformers and condensers containing PCBs, and lead batteries. These are disposed of appropriately and in compliance with the Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law (Waste Disposal Law) as well as other laws and regulations, and the NTT Group does not have a record of disposing of such waste in foreign countries. We also pay meticulous attention to the proper storage and management of equipment containing PCBs and PCB contaminated wastes, and dispose of them with safe and appropriate methods in conformity with the Law Concerning Special Measures Against PCB Waste.


Demonstration Research into Various Methods for Reducing Food Loss and Decreasing Waste Volume

Reducing food loss and decreasing the volume of waste has become a major challenge in Japan. NTT BUSINESS SOLUTIONS has teamed up with Well Create to rent the "Four Stars" food waste fermentation/decomposition system to food-related business operators without any initial investment costs. The fermentation/decomposition beds are turned into fertilizer and soil enhancer, and provided or sold to farmers as part of the food recycling system it has developed. A "mobile recycling truck" equipped with the system is used to demonstrate the collection and processing efficiency, and we work with restaurant chains to predict future demand based on numbers of customers and orders, weather information and other data. Calculating the amount of required ingredients helps to reduce the amount of overall food waste.


Business Activity 9
Appropriate and efficient management of water resources

Our commitment

Managing water usage and protecting valuable water resources

Our objective

The NTT Group is Reducing its Consumption of Tap Water, and Implementing Thorough Measures Against Leakages of Chemical Substances into Wastewater.

Water Management

Due to the nature of the NTT Group's business, little water is consumed in our operations. In Japan, oneyear domestic and industrial water consumption totaled 25.6 billion m3*1, while the NTT Group's water consumption totaled 5.142 million m3, only about 0.02% of the total for all of Japan. Moreover, our water use is spread out across the country and so we believe our water intake does not have any significant impact on water sources. The NTT Group reduces its consumption of tap water by using recycled wastewater and rainwater. Research centers where we use chemical substances in our research activities implement individual measures against leakages of chemical substances into wastewater. For example, at the Atsugi R&D Center, which carries out research on the physical properties of materials, we have installed equipment to treat chemical-infused waste liquid discharged by the laboratories. Furthermore, we regularly monitor the quality of this wastewater to confirm that it is within legal regulation values. The NTT Group has not been involved in any significant spills.

  1. From the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism website. Actual water use in 2017 (water intake basis) was approximately 79.3 billion m3 per year (domestic and commercial use of water: approximately 14.6 billion m3; water for industrial use: approximately 11 billion m3; water for agricultural use: approximately 53.7 billion m3).

Providing People All Over the World with Clean, Safe Drinking Water

NTT DATA Italia has been researching smart water management systems that incorporate IoT since 2016. Through processes such as hackathons, in which various engineers from throughout the company meet to share opinions and ideas, it has developed origAMI (original Advanced Metering Infrastructure).

In addition to enabling appropriate monitoring, such as reducing leakage rates by monitoring pipe networks in real time, this infrastructure also functions as a tool for the prevention of accidents by running simulations and accumulating measurement data for each region. Currently it is being used in public works in Italy and we plan to expand its use to other parts of Europe and then Asia.