The public sector revolution: Saving the planet while bridging the digital divide

Our Group CEO, Helen Milner OBE, blogs about how the public sector is taking action in tackling digital exclusion and reducing e-waste by donating tech for social good.

Leaders across the public sector are taking action in tackling digital exclusion and reducing e-waste by recycling IT equipment. How timely, as Sunak announced £1.6bn in UK funding for climate projects ahead of COP28 – yet the country can overcome the climate challenge and positively impact society by partnering with us so that their old and disused devices get re-used, for good, for free.

Many in the public sector are actively engaged in this revolution already – let me introduce to you the Public Sector Pioneers

From healthcare to education, and spanning local and central government, public sector providers are increasingly concerned about digital exclusion and rising inequalities. As a result, they’re repurposing IT equipment to tackle digital exclusion and reducing e-waste. 

Our new report explores the motivations and enablers, as well as recommendations to overcome the barriers to entry.

Currently the UK produces 23.9 kg of e-waste per capita per year and an annual disposal of 75 million tonnes. All the while devices are in notable demand – the need for devices from our National Device Bank is five times greater than supply and 68% of digital inclusion hubs in the National Digital Inclusion Network say lack of devices hold back their work.

The public sector pioneers are aligning their social and environmental goals and flipping the script. Many of which have already donated to the National Device Bank – from September 2022 – 2023, they have helped avoid 964,674.91 total Co2e emissions and prevented 13,768.5kg of waste.

The report complements previous research with the Circular Electronics Partnership and Deloitte, which developed a model for ‘circular electronics for social good‘ having explored private sector enablers and barriers to donation. The overarching model holds true, although the pathway differs – with not too dissimilar experiences.

Notably, this research points to the million dollar question for public sector leaders – not ‘why?’ but ‘how?‘. I look forward to hearing more from those involved in the research at our launch event next Tuesday – and you can expect to see more change champions emerge in 2024, taking inspiration from the pioneering organisations already helping us fix the digital divide – for good.

If you’re interested in learning more about our National Device Bank work, get in touch at:

Helen Milner

Helen Milner OBE

Group Chief Executive

Helen Milner OBE is the Group Chief Executive of Good Things Foundation. Founded as a staff-led mutual charity in the UK in 2011, Helen led the establishment of a subsidiary charity, opening an office in Sydney in August 2017, and running the Be Connected Network for the Australian Government.