London Device Bank prevents over 2.5 million kg of CO2 emissions by reusing electronics

The London Device Bank is part of Get Online London, a digital inclusion service by Good Things Foundation, supported by the London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI) and the Mayor of London.

Press release: More than 2.5 million kg of CO2 emissions – equivalent to 2500 tonnes – has been avoided through the uptake of a unique digital inclusion programme in London, offering free refurbished devices to digitally excluded people. 

With the world generating over 60 million tonnes of e-waste every year and approximately 350,000 mobile phones being thrown away each day – we need to do more to reuse the IT equipment we already have. 

The amount of emissions avoided is comparable to the annual energy-related emissions from 968 UK households and donations have prevented 24,103.9 kg of electronic waste – equivalent to the weight of 16 cars – from being inappropriately discarded, keeping previous materials, water, and fossil fuels in the ground, safe for future generations. 

Between September 2022 and June 2023, Get Online London has also distributed more than 44,000 free data SIMs to people in need through 678 community organisations in London delivering data, devices and digital skill support to people in need across the city. 

Get Online London is London’s first ever digital inclusion service, a joined up partnership between Good Things Foundation, LOTI, Greater London Authority, boroughs, businesses, public bodies and communities. It’s the sustainable solution to tackle digital exclusion, giving offline Londoners access to upcycled devices, free mobile connectivity and digital skills. 

Private and public sector organisations donate their retired devices to be processed and refurbished by Reconome, which are then added to the London Device Bank before being distributed through London’s Digital Inclusion Network of community organisations, perfectly placed to identify people in need. 

In London alone, there are 270,000 digitally excluded people, who are cut off from the benefits of the online world, unable to access the everyday essentials many of us take for granted. 

With 6% of London households not having an internet-enabled device and more than 1.6 million Londoners lacking basic digital skills, Get Online London is the solution to help fix the digital divide.  

The London Device Bank 

Since its launch in June 2022, the London Device Bank has collected over 26,000 devices, helping prevent more than 24,000 kg of waste from ending up in landfill. There are currently 149 active device bank hubs within 31 boroughs in London.

The device bank is a unique, cross sector collaboration which feeds into the circular economy in the battle against digital poverty – by fairly repurposing and redistributing redundant corporate IT equipment. This approach offers a sustainable, affordable, scalable and environmentally friendly solution. 

The achievements come as Good Things Foundation launches its annual campaign Get Online Week, with the National Digital Inclusion Network hosting events for local communities. Get Online Week is Good Things Foundation’s flagship digital inclusion campaign that encourages people to improve their digital skills through local support. Digital Inclusion Hubs across London are taking part in the campaign, hosting events at more than 50 locations.

Helen Milner OBE, Group CEO, Good Things Foundation:

“We’re so proud to celebrate the London Device Bank’s remarkable achievement of avoiding 2.5 million kg of CO2 Emissions by redistributing used technology. This is a testament to the success of Get Online London and the dedication of the London Digital Inclusion Network who are working in communities to get devices into the hands of people in need. Beyond the social impact, it is brilliant to also see a significant impact on reducing e-waste. Together with the London Office of Technology and Innovation and Mayor of London we’re empowering digitally excluded people to access the online world while contributing to a greener, more sustainable future. I urge businesses to join us in helping people and the planet by donating to the London Device Bank.”

Eddie Copeland, Director, LOTI:

“We’re delighted to see these remarkable achievements by Get Online London in its first year of service, further cementing its place as London’s sustainable solution to digital exclusion. Tackling London’s digital divide is a key element in building a fairer and more prosperous city. Current rates of digital exclusion are unsustainable and make other forms of inequality worse. This collaboration with Good Things Foundation and the Mayor of London has allowed us to be in a stronger position to work with local authorities and the voluntary sector as they seek to ensure no Londoner is excluded from the opportunities and benefits of being online. We’re hugely excited to see what Get Online London can achieve in the future to help tackle digital exclusion in our communities.”

Theo Blackwell MBE, Chief Digital Officer for London:

“The Mayor wants every Londoner to be able to get online easily, and the Get Online London service provides vital access to free mobile data, devices and digital skills support in neighbourhoods across the capital through participating libraries and community centres. In addition, thousands of tonnes of electronic waste has been saved through refurbishing and reusing thousands of laptops and mobiles, passing them to Londoners who need them in a sustainable solution to tackling digital exclusion.”

Nick Rawkins, Founder and CEO, Reconome:

“We’re extremely proud to be building towards a brighter future where everyone, regardless of where or to whom they were born, has access to a great education, healthcare, career, and to find their life’s passion. Making Get Online London a success is a huge vote of confidence in an innovative and necessary model where we reuse technology and provide devices to those in need on a massive scale.”

Join companies like Microsoft and Ocado to help digitally excluded people access reused tech. Businesses and public sector organisations can donate to the London Device Bank by visiting the National Device Bank page and completing a form.