The rise of societal and environmental challenges at an international level encourages partnerships between actors from different sectors to seek solutions. Today more than ever, it’s essential for large companies to adopt a collaborative approach and to rely on the different types of structures that make up their ecosystem (public organisations, SSE companies, startups, etc.) to move towards more sustainable performances. For such companies, this strategy is beneficial on many levels: it creates innovation, encourages short circuits, brings agility. But it also benefits small structures, which find opportunities to develop and solidify their activities.

In 2019, Orange wanted to formalise its contribution to society and the planet and its ambition to ensure a more humane, inclusive, and sustainable digital world. As part of its strategic plan for 2025, this company’s purpose confirms and reinforces the Group’s determination to set an example in terms of social and environmental performance. To reduce its ecological footprint, one of the prioritised solutions is the use of the circular economy. This new approach applies both to the infrastructures that provide access to fixed and mobile networks and the products designed and marketed by the group. Realistically, this translates into the recycling of materials and the eco-design, collection, and reconditioning of terminals (Live boxes, set-top boxes, telephones).

For example, since 2010, Orange has partnered with Emmaus International and the Ateliers du Bocage, a SSE company, to open mobile waste collection and device recycling workshops in Africa. This partnership has made it possible to create appropriate systems in countries where structured waste treatment channels did not yet exist. The waste collected in these local recycling channels is consolidated and then sent back to France to be recycled according to European environmental standards at Morphosis, a young innovative SME in Normandy.

It’s a collaboration that benefits both the group and its partners. According to Matthieu Belloir, CSR Director of the Orange Group, “SSE companies are a valuable asset. Involved for many years in the circular economy, we can rely on their expertise. As a digital player, we, in turn, have solutions to help them develop their field of expertise”.

Antoine Drouet, CEO, Ateliers du Bocage

With Orange, we are developing a reusable mobile phone network in France, which is ISO14001 certified and generates jobs for the unemployed. The CSR commitment of the project is complete since the profits are used to finance the creation of recycling workshops in five African countries (Burkina Faso, Benin, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, and Niger). Beyond the stakes for our territory, this partnership thus offers global solutions for the planet and a necessary awakening.

Being involved in a co-constructive approach is hugely positive for the project’s performance. It’s also the fruit of initial work that laid the foundations of the project around shared values and ambitions: ecology and job creation. Thus, for 25,000 recycled mobiles, 1 integration job is created in France. Once this principle was established, we were able to deploy an adapted economic model. Within our SSE cooperative, we have capitalised enormously on this approach, which allows us to go beyond the classic framework of “customer-supplier” relations.

For Benoît Huver, Supply Chain Director of the Orange Group, “the circular economy is turning the tables in terms of purchasing strategy. We were used to buying new products to sell on to the customer; we can now buy second-hand products to diversify our supplies”.
As a client and beyond environmental commitments, the group also aims at supporting integration jobs by actively supporting the development of companies in the adapted (companies adapted to handicapped individuals) and protected sectors, for several years now.

Anne-Marie Dunet, Head of Diversity - Purchasing, Groupe Orange

Orange has been working for more than 15 years with SSE companies: ESAT (Establishments et Services d’Aide par le Travail), EA (Adapted Companies), EI (Integration Companies). The group first developed its purchasing policy with this type of supplier as part of its Disability agreement. Over the last four years, the customer-supplier relationship with this sector has evolved. A genuine economic partner, we now talk about inclusive purchasing, which meets the group’s social commitment.

Thus, we want to act for integration by working with people with disabilities, including in areas that are at the heart of our activities. In 2019, we signed the first tripartite APTECH/Association des Paralysés de France/Orange contract for high added value services in the Val-de-Reuil data center in Normandy. Managing administrative files when deploying the fiber (Gesform, Nouvelle Aquitaine), other examples are the maintenance of green spaces that surround our mobile antennas.

With more than €22 million in purchases in 2019 from 250 SSE suppliers, Orange’s territorial anchoring is a reality. Working with SSE companies enables collaboration with innovative, dynamic, and responsive SMEs.

Sustainable cooperation between actors is thus a mutual lever of performance. This is a firm conviction for the group, which is also reflected through the financing and support of multiple startups. The Orange Prize for Social Entrepreneurs in Africa and the Middle East (POESAM), for example, which is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary, reward the best technological projects with a positive impact in no less than 17 countries each year. A strong desire: to identify, support, and promote players who anticipate tomorrow’s uses and act for sustainable socio-economic development.

CSR Group Department