Our environmental commitment over the years

1880 to 1980s overview of first environmental programs

Between 1880 and 1900s, “the environment” is already a subject of discussion. Bell managers and construction superintendents discuss best tree-trimming practices to reduce tree damage. Heating and ventilation systems in Bell’s larger buildings feature the latest technology.

During WWII: Facing restrictive measures during WWII, Bell discusses ways to conserve and reuse telephone material and equipment.

Display showing wartime equipment conservation efforts within the company, 1942.

In the 1970s, Bell introduces a goal of operating its business in a manner that contributes the least pollution to the environment. Here are a few examples:

  • Old pay phones are salvaged and dismantled. Usable pieces are reconditioned and returned to stock. The remaining metal is processed and sold to metal buyers.
  • Conference TV services are introduced, making it possible for people in various cities to gather via broadcast links. The technology reduces travel costs and pollution emissions.
  • 24% of the Bell vehicle fleet is equipped with emission control devices.
  • Many of Bell’s office and equipment buildings are heated by electricity versus oil. A few are heated by natural gas, which produces minimal emissions.
  • The company takes extra care in the use of chemicals and the disposal of waste. For example, waste paper, the largest category of waste, is disposed of through contractors for re-processing.

1970: Bell experiments with using natural gas as fuel for repair trucks in the Toronto and Montréal areas to fight pollution.

Repair truck converted to natural gas as part of a Bell experiment, 1970.

Old pay phones are salvaged at Bell’s Material warehouse, 1976.

Customer envelope, bearing the new environmental logo, 1973.

1973: The biggest project to date in the company’s environmental program is introduced. Customer statements and mailing envelopes are now manufactured from recycled, post-consumer waste material, bearing a new circular arrow logo.

1974: Approval of the first Environmental Protection and Improvement Policy.

1975: A publicity campaign, “Saving energy makes cents”, encourages employees to use energy judiciously to conserve resources and reduce pollution.

1980: Bell formalizes its ongoing energy conservation practices, creating a comprehensive energy conservation policy. Energy management becomes an integral consideration in all internal business decisions.

1981: Bell extends the “Zero Growth” project, launched in 1978. The goal is to fight paper waste by introducing paper reproduction restrictions. Theme is “Save our forests.”

1989: Recognizing that Bell’s day-to-day business activities have an impact on the environment, the company established a full-time Corporate Environment Group. First official report, “The State of the Environment at Bell Canada”, is published in 1991.

“Saving energy makes cents” promotional campaign poster, 1975.

Bell employees using video conferencing technology, circa 1980.

Poster promoting the conservation of paper in Bell offices, circa 1980.

1990s to 2000s creation of company-wide programs

1989–1990: Bell sponsors many initiatives to make the telephone books more environmentally friendly. By 1990, all directories can be fully recycled.

1990: Introduction of Energy Wise, a five-year plan to help reduce electricity used in central offices and related facilities.

1990: Customer mailings and return-payment envelopes are now made of 100% recycled paper.

1990s: Bell sponsors tree planting initiatives and encourages its employees to participate.

1991: Recycling blue bins appear in Bell’s offices. It is estimated that 90% of the 10,000 tons of paper used at Bell every year can be recycled.

Promoting the recycling of phone books, 1990.

Pierre Cloutier heads the group responsible for the implementation of the blue boxes at Bell, 1991.

1993: The “Zero Waste” project is introduced. Employees dispose of their waste in labelled bins located on every floor. The most original aspect of the project is the large-scale composting component. This program earned the attention of the United Nations when Bell presented a case study at a conference on environment and ethics in January 1994.

Bell team members and their children participate in a tree-planting project, Scarborough, Ontario, 1993.

Large composter as part of the Zero Waste project, 1992.

Customer drops off her old phone at a Bell Téléboutique, 1993.

1993: Bell initiated a groundbreaking recycling program in Québec to collect used phones at 45 Téléboutiques (now Espace Bell). Consumers can bring these unwanted telephones to Bell regardless of age or make. The telephones are disassembled and the recycled plastics and other components are used in new products.

1993: Bell recognizes telework and its positive environmental benefits.

1993: Bell uses recycled or regenerated oil for its fleet of 12,000 vehicles. All used oil is recovered for recycling and reuse. Bell also sends 12,000 used tires to a recycling firm each year.

1994: Bell launches a hazardous materials waste-recovery and recycling program. The company is the first in North America to recycle aerosol cans.

2001: Bell goes electric and hybrid. The company’s vehicle fleet now owns its first hybrid car, a Toyota Prius, and its first electric vehicle, a Ford Ranger pickup truck.

2001: Bell Mobility launches a cell phone battery recycling program. Two years later in 2003, the company launches “Recycle, Reuse, Redial”, giving users a responsible disposal method for unwanted cell phones. Refurbished telephones generated by this program were donated to more than 90 women’s shelters across Canada.

Bell team member working from home, 1995.

Bell’s new hybrid and electric vehicles, 2001.

Bell Mobility promotes its take-back and recycling program, 2007.