With COP26 fast approaching, a growing raft of organisations are making bold statements about their transition to net zero carbon. Inevitably this transition will take time, so it can be a challenge to demonstrate that organisational intent is serious by pointing to short-term change that is of immediate relevance to employees, customers and local communities.

One immediate step that can be taken, which both reduces carbon emissions greatly and creates a long lasting social benefit is to ensure that surplus electronic equipment is reused and made available to people facing digital isolation. This simple step tackles the growing mountain of e-waste, and has many instant benefits to people facing challenging circumstances.

According to analysis by Reconome, reusing one mobile phone instead of buying new can save 53.55kgs of carbon dioxide emissions. This saving can be made immediately and has a range of other benefits. The process of digital cleaning creates new green job opportunities, it boosts the circular economy and makes devices more easily available to people facing financial hardship.

Our Community Calling campaign, in partnership with O2, recognises the range of benefits delivered by reusing surplus smartphones and has sought to make the process as simple and as beneficial as possible. This involves:

  1. A guarantee that all donated devices are physically and digitally cleaned using certified software, ensuring there is no risk of confidential data escaping.
  2. Partnerships with local charities and grass roots organisations in seven major UK cities, ensuring that phones are passed on to the hardest to reach communities.
  3. The provision of a year of free data from O2 and training for recipients of the phones, recognising that digital isolation is not just about access to devices but also about the ability to pay for data and the skills required to do everyday things online.
  4. In Bristol, thanks to support from the Aviva Foundation, recipients are also receiving financial training to help balance tight household budgets.
  5. The offer of a sustainability/social impact report connected to the scheme, making it easier for organisations to integrate the impact of the campaign into their wider reporting.

To date, Community Calling has redistributed close to 4,000 phones. Behind each, there is a heart-warming story. For some, it is the first phone they have ever had, for others it is the first time with a phone that connects to the internet so they can access education sites, health advice, employment services and stay connected with family and loved ones. We’ve even experienced several individuals securing job opportunities with their new devices. Meet some of the beneficiaries and read their stories here. 

Of the 4,000 phones redistributed, 3,500 have come from companies or major employers illustrating the importance of this donation source for surplus equipment. Donating organisations have included Capita, Danone, Highways England, O2 and Starbucks.

Hubbub is now calling on more major employers to help us double this level of donation, enabling us to provide support to 10,000 households and save an additional 321 tonnes of carbon.

If you are an organisation on the path to net-zero, seeking to demonstrate an instant example of how you are starting to progress on this journey whilst also providing immediate benefit to people requiring support, please get in touch via [email protected] If your organisation doesn't have surplus devices but you want to contribute to the campaign, you can also support Community Calling financially.