Cyber Engineers – Circular Economy project in the Technology sector

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E. Durling - Kent County Council

Cyber Engineers is a small business based in the Medway area in the South East of England. The team of qualified and dedicated cyber security professionals specialise in providing high quality training and services in cyber security for schools and colleges, as well as other profit and non-profit organisations.

In 2021, Cyber Engineers developed a project as a part of their climate change plan, to help reduce e-waste produced by the tech sector by upcycling and repairing devices. The project also has social benefits, aiming to help reduce digital marginalisation among low-income residents. A survey by the Royal Society of Chemistry estimates that there could be over 40 million unused digital devices stashed away in drawers and cupboards around the UK, an estimate of 168,580 in Medway alone. Each device contains valuable “rare earth elements” such as lithium which are increasingly scarce.

Cyber Engineers applied for funding via the LoCASE (Low Carbon Across the South and East) programme, which secured funding to contribute towards repair stations and training elements of this project. They are now seeking collaboration opportunities with circular waste programmes to link them up with supplies of e-waste, and charitable organisations to donate repaired goods to.

This project will collect, refurbish, repair, and donate upcycled mobile devices to digitally marginalised individuals and families, as well as provide training on how to upcycle or repair discarded small digital devices to everyone. It also aspires to deliver a community awareness campaign, encouraging residents to attend the repairs centre for guidance and training on fixing their own devices and offering e-waste disposal methods of household items such as batteries. It will deliver the following benefits:

  • Reduce amount of E-waste in landfill or incineration by refurbishing and reusing unwanted devices such as laptops, tablets, desktops, monitors, smart phones, chargers for smartphones, mice, keyboards, power or connecting cables, and hubs/routers
  • Donate refurbished devices to digitally marginalised individuals
  • Provide up to 60 minutes of cybersecurity and essential digital skills training for all device recipients
  • Recruit and train three Mobile Device Technicians
  • Provide business sustainability for Cyber Engineers following the Covid-19 pandemic

Cyber Engineers will work with schools, places of worship, the voluntary sector, Job Centres, and local businesses to reach beneficiaries and receive donated devices from across Kent and Medway This initiative is supported by several media reports as follows.

  • In 2020 the Global E-waste Monitor found that the UK generated the second largest WEEE ( waste electrical and electronic equipment) per capita(kg) in 2019. A Material Focus research also claimed that the UK economy could save £370 million if all the small old electricals that are “either thrown away or hoarded” were reused
  • The WHO lists harmful materials from e-waste that cause health risks from direct contact, which can be retained in the environment entering soil, water, and food
  • The forecast of a 15% increase in household population across Medway by 2035, would increase the amount of WEEE produced
  • A Kent and Medway digital inclusion survey in 2020 found that 34% of respondents had barriers to accessing digital services and 39% felt they lacked digital skills

Cyber engineers will be relocated to new premises on Rochester Highstreet in February, at which point they will commence the next phase of facilitating the project. Their next priority is to partner with other organisations who may be able to provide discarded electric devices such as mobiles or laptops, for upcycling and repairing to be passed on to charities for donation. They also seek partnerships with charitable organisations, who can pass on the repaired goods.

If you would like to connect with this project or hear more about how Upcycle Your Waste can help link your business ‘waste’ with other firms or find local sources of what you need as a raw material to work with…please get in touch:

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