Study: Ranking UK Broadband Providers’ Sustainability Commitments

Compared to other utility providers, especially energy companies, you might not think that broadband providers generally have a significant carbon footprint.

However, the truth is that large internet service providers can have a considerable environmental impact, especially those that own and operate their own fibre networks.

Building, upgrading, and maintaining broadband networks produces large amounts of emissions, as well as heavy material, such as construction spoils. Some broadband providers maintain a significant vehicle fleet, while others own data centres, and the vast majority are also responsible for managing e-waste when departing customers return their routers.

Here at Broadband Savvy, we decided to compare the environmental performance of each major British broadband provider, to see which is making the biggest commitments towards improving their sustainability.


The complete rankings, and each provider’s score, can be seen below.

RankProviderChange from previous reportCarbon neutral?Scope 1&2 net zero targetScope 3 net zero targetEmissions reduction (scopes 1 and 2)100% renewable electricity?Proportion of waste diverted from landfillRouter recyclingElectric vehiclesBonusTOTAL SCORE
1Zen0Yes2040204082% (since 2019)Yes100%Reuse/recycleNo vehicle fleetCertified B Corp260
2Vodafone+2No2030204092% (since 2020)Yes98.7%Reuse/recycle2/3s of car fleet is electric, plans to eliminate emissions from all 1355 cars/vans by 2027240
3Sky-1Yes2030205056% (since 2018)Yes100%Reuse/recycle149 hybrid and 16 electric vans plus electric employee busses (5000 vehicle fleet), aim to be zero emissions by 2030Router/TV box packaging - no single-use plastics215
4BT-1No2031204156% (since 2017)Yes88.5%Reuse/recycleZero emissions by March 2031 (33,000 vehicle fleet, 2,400 EVs currently)Exchange Clearance Operation (ECO) programme185
5Virgin Media O20No2040204029% (since 2020)Yes99%Reuse/recycleBy 2030 (280/4300 currently)Carbon Trust Route to Net Zero Standard certified180
6TalkTalk0No2050205090% (since 2020)Yes100%Reuse/recycle"Very small" fleet of cars, unclear how many are EVs175
7KCOM0No2040None, will provide in 202456% (since 2020)Yes98%Reuse/recycle5 out of 200 vans (currently). States they have recently installed upgraded telematics to identify vehicles suitable to transition130
8Utility WarehouseN/ANo2050205096% (since 2022)Unknown**UnknownReuse/recycleNo vehicle fleet120
9Community FibreN/ANoUnknown*Unknown*Unknown*Unknown*Unknown*Unknown*Vehicle fleet of unknown size - as of 2022, 20 EVs were on order. Wants to deploy more but blames infrastructure difficulties20
10HyperopticN/ANoUnknown*Unknown*Unknown*Unknown*Unknown*Unknown*Approximately 30-50 diesel vans, unclear if any plans to transition to EVs0
  • *Information not publicly available, was not provided when asked for comment.
  • **States that they switched to 100% renewables in mid-2022 but have since expanded their offices and current proportion is unknown.
  • The third column compares each provider’s performance to their result the last time this study was performed, in 2021.
  • In corporate reporting, carbon emissions are categorised as either Scope 1 (direct emissions from company activities), Scope 2 (indirect emissions, generally from energy used), and Scope 3 (all other emissions associated with the company’s supply chain, including supplier emissions, and emissions produced by customers when using the product).
  • This analysis was performed in mid-late January, 2024.

1. Zen Internet

Zen Internet came first in our previous report, and was able to maintain its number one ranking in the 2024 study.

Zen performed well in all categories assessed. It is one of the only ISPs that is certified carbon neutral, and has a 2040 net zero target for Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions.

However, Zen Internet really stands out as the only ISP with environmental sustainability embedded as one of the core foundations on which the business operates.

It is currently the only major broadband provider that is B Corp certified, meaning that the company has to meet specific environmental, social, and governance performance targets every three years, and its activities in these areas must be verified by the business.

2. Vodafone

Of the major broadband providers with at least 1,000,000 active customers, Vodafone came out on top, and the company has made significant improvements in its environmental commitments since we last performed this study.

They have the most aggressive net zero targets of any major provider – aiming for net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030, and net zero Scope 3 by 2040.

In addition, Vodafone aims to eliminate all vehicle fleet emissions by 2027, three to five years earlier than most other providers. Two thirds of company cars are already electric, and they are currently in the process of electrifying company vans and other vehicles.

3. Sky

Sky has a track history of environmental commitment, having achieved carbon neutrality as early as 2006.

The company aims to achieve net zero Scope 1/2 emissions by 2030. However, Sky’s total net zero target is only 2050 – 10 years later than most other major providers at the moment.

Sky has a solid vehicle fleet electrification plan, aiming to achieve zero emissions by 2030. Currently though, we estimate that less than 10% of their 5,000 vehicle fleet uses electric or hybrid propulsion technology.

One area Sky performs well is its router and TV box packaging. The company is one of the few that has already completely eliminated single-use plastics.

4. BT

Through Openreach, BT has made significant upgrades to its network in recent years. The switch to fibre will reduce energy usage in the long run, but the process of upgrading has a significant immediate environmental impact.

Recent Openreach network upgrades have resulted in large volumes of construction spoils and other waste being produced, resulting in a much higher proportion of company waste ending up in landfill, compared to other broadband providers. These works may have also affected BT’s ability to reduce its emissions since the 2017 baseline.

Apart from this, BT’s net zero commitments are solid, and the company has made good progress in electrifying its vehicle fleet. At least 2,400 EVs are currently in use, the most of any provider. However, this only represents 7% of their 33,000 cars and vans – BT owns the second-largest vehicle fleet in the entire UK.

5. Virgin Media O2

VMO2’s 2040 complete net zero target is best in class, only matched by Sky, Vodafone, and Zen. It also has a solid fleet emissions plan, targeting complete electrification by 2030, with approximately 280/4,300 vehicles converted thus far.

However, the company was let down by its lack of near-term Scope 1 and Scope 2 net zero target.

Although VMO2 does have a goal to cut these emissions by 90% by 2030, the company has only reduced these direct emissions by 29% since 2020, which is lower than some other comparable providers, like BT and Sky.

6. TalkTalk

TalkTalk was predominantly let down by its 2050 total net zero target, which is 10 years later than what most other providers are aiming for.

While TalkTalk does have a solid router refurbishment scheme, and has successfully reduced its direct and energy-related emissions in the past five years, it is unclear how it plans to electrify its vehicle fleet. The company states that it has started to transition to electric vehicles, but it is unclear how many cars are still using internal combustion at this stage.

This is less of a concern than with some other providers though, since TalkTalk’s vehicle fleet is relatively small overall.

Note: TalkTalk is currently acquiring Shell Energy Broadband’s customers from Octopus Energy, therefore we did not analyse Shell’s performance separately.


Similar to TalkTalk, it would be good to see KCOM make stronger commitments to net zero.

Its 2040 Scope 1/2 net zero target is in line with some other providers, but is 10 years later than Sky and Vodafone’s goals. KCOM has also yet to commit to a Scope 3 net zero target, although a company spokesperson said that one would be set out later this year.

On the electric vehicle front, currently only five of the company’s 200 vans use electric/hybrid technology. KCOM expressed to us a desire to invest in more electric vehicles, but says that vehicle range and charging infrastructure limitations make this difficult for the business at the moment.

The company has recently invested in improved vehicle telematics though, which they say will help them identify vans that could be replaced with EVs in the near future.

8. Utility Warehouse

Utility Warehouse is predominantly an energy company. We assessed their environmental performance as a whole, as data specifically relating to its broadband business unit was not available.

The company has achieved a 96% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions since 2022, through the divestment of certain business units and the sale of the company’s vehicle fleet. UW has also switched to a renewable energy supplier, although it has since expanded its offices to include new locations that are not using renewable electricity.

Utility Warehouse has only been able to commit to a 2050 net zero target as of yet, which resulted in a relatively low overall score.

9. Community Fibre

Community Fibre declined to answer our questions and has not published substantive environmental sustainability-related information on its website.

The company has publicly expressed a desire to electrify its vehicle fleet, and has stated that it ordered 20 electric vehicles in 2022.

10. Hyperoptic

Hyperoptic did not respond to our requests for comment and has not published substantive environmental sustainability-related information on its website.


We assessed the performance of each business-to-consumer broadband provider in the UK with at least 100,000 active customers, as of the latest figures released by each company in 2023, or using recent subscriber estimates.

We only included large companies because smaller providers have fewer resources available to allocate towards reducing their environmental footprint. These smaller broadband providers generally also have a lower overall environmental impact.

For companies with multiple broadband brands (such as BT and Sky, which also sell broadband under the names Plusnet and NOW Broadband respectively), we looked at combined performance across the group.

We did not scale our ratings based on the subscriber counts of each provider. Instead, we rated each provider’s performance based on the progress they have made towards reducing emissions and reducing waste, as a proportion of their existing environmental impact. This was done because certain providers assessed have a range of different business units, and information about broadband-specific emissions and energy usage was not widely available.

We assessed each company in the following qualitative and quantitative areas. For each datapoint, we assigned a score from 0-50, based on its significance and the provider’s efforts or commitments in this area, to measure relative performance.

  • Carbon neutrality – as of the date of our analysis, we assessed whether or not the organisation was certified carbon neutral.
  • Scope 1/2 net zero target date – we looked at when the broadband provider aims to achieve net zero Scope 1 & 2 carbon emissions.
  • Scope 3 net zero target date – we looked at when the broadband provider aims to achieve net zero Scope 3 carbon emissions.
  • Emissions reduction – each provider we analysed had slightly different ways of reporting their emissions over time. The majority of companies have defined a baseline level of emissions, which is normally either the year when emissions peaked, or when accurate measurements of emissions began to be taken. Where available, we used FY20 as a baseline, although we also used the provider’s earlier baseline year where FY20 emissions data was not available. We focused on Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions for this analysis.
  • 100% renewable electricity – we assessed whether or not the provider currently uses 100% renewable electricity across their operations.
  • Proportion of waste diverted from landfill – we took into account the proportion of total waste that each company diverts from landfill.
  • Router recycling policy – nearly all broadband providers are currently having customers return their routers when they’re finished with them. Many companies are reselling these routers to third parties to be recycled. We gave a provider extra points if it has a policy of refurbishing and reusing routers, where possible to do so.
  • Electric vehicle policy – we rated each provider based on the proportion of their vehicle fleet that currently uses electric or hybrid technology, as well as their plans to reduce vehicle emissions over the next decade. It’s important to note, some smaller providers like Zen do not have a significant vehicle fleet, as the technicians that maintain the broadband network are employed by Openreach (BT). In these cases, the provider received a neutral rating.
  • Bonus points – some providers received a small quantity of bonus points for certain efforts to improve their environmental sustainability which were not accounted for by the other criterion. For example, Sky received bonus points because it does not use any single-use plastics when shipping routers or TV boxes to customers.

We relied predominantly on publicly available information to perform this analysis. We also reached out to some providers where information was not available. Where information was not available and not supplied by the provider, we gave a zero rating in that category, although it is possible that a provider’s performance is actually better than a zero score would merit. We will update this report if further information on unknown metrics is supplied to us in future.

While we aimed to make this analysis as objective as possible, some subjective judgements were required when assessing qualitative factors, such as providers’ fleet electrification targets. This analysis is not perfect – it is limited in some respects by a lack of available information and the need to make subjective judgements.

Should you only buy broadband from a green provider?

If you are concerned about your household’s carbon footprint, your broadband is not going to be the biggest influencing factor on your environmental sustainability. Other choices such as your energy provider, modes of transport, and even the food you eat are likely to have a higher influence.

However, if you want to minimise your carbon footprint, it’s still worth exploring the environmental policies of each broadband provider you’re comparing. Fortunately, if you’re looking for a provider that cares about reducing its environmental impact, there are plenty of good choices. Zen, Vodafone, and Sky all offer competitive broadband deals.

Essentially, you don’t need to only buy broadband from green providers. But if you want to support companies that are making an effort with their environmental policies, there are good choices available.

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