The Turing Trust receives first batch of donated Govia Thameslink computers

Train operator plans to donate 600 computers to the charity, which will refurbish them and send them to schools in Malawi

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has donated the first batch of 70 computers out of a total of 600 that it has set aside for The Turing Trust, the IT recycling and education charity founded by the family of Alan Turing.

In the 10 years since it was formed, the trust has provided access to computers for more than 55,000 students across Africa. Its overall ambition is to enable every child to enjoy the transformative power of technology.

Most of GTR’s donation is expected to be passed on to schools in Malawi, where The Turing Trust has been working since 2016. Some of the donated equipment will go to support communities in the UK.

The Turing Trust said the donation and refurbishment of the mini desktop computers would enable thousands of children to learn computing skills, while saving over 160 tonnes of carbon emissions that the manufacture of new computers would have otherwise created.

GTR is replacing the outdated desktops because they cannot support the latest software the company needs to use, but its older tech is potentially invaluable for organisations such as charities and schools that cannot afford the IT equipment they need.

The Turing Trust said it would wipe the donated equipment securely to UK government standards before undertaking any refurbishment and repairs needed, and then ship the fully working equipment to recipients in need.

“We’re delighted to receive this fantastic donation from Govia Thameslink Railway, which will help us to do so much in the coming months. Thanks to their donation, 10,800 students will be able to learn vital IT skills,” said James Turing, the founder of the trust.

“Beyond this, the environmental impact from their donation will offset 168 tonnes of CO2 emissions, which is the equivalent of planting 420 trees or offsetting the annual carbon footprints of 17 Britons. The embodied energy savings created are also enough to power 41 UK homes for a year. Thank you so much to the whole team at Govia Thameslink Railway for making all of this possible.”

“Demand for refurbished computers is so high that the 600 units we’re donating is a drop in the ocean, so we encourage other organisations with redundant kit to work with The Turing Trust so it can be reused securely with a lasting and valuable impact”
Aidan Shanahan, Govia Thameslink Railway

Aidan Shanahan, GTR’s head of IT, said it was delighted to be able to work with The Turing Trust to make such a life-changing difference for so many people by giving equipment a second life.

“Demand for refurbished computers is so high that the 600 units we’re donating is a drop in the ocean, so we encourage other organisations with redundant kit to work with the trust so it can be reused securely with a lasting and valuable impact,” he said.

Safe refurbishment

In a recent Computer Weekly Downtime Upload Podcast, Gartner vice-president analyst Annette Zimmermann discussed the pros and cons of the circular economy for older devices. 

“The biggest challenge with refurbished PCs is that you need to do it in a safe way,” said Zimmermann. It’s not as simple as in the consumer market, where you go onto eBay and look for a refurbished iPhone or Android device. Enterprises have different requirements.”

Devices need to be available and in a good condition, ideally certified by the refurbished PC provider. “Availability of these enterprise-grade devices is the first hurdle,” said Zimmermann.

But being serious about the circular economy also means having a way for an enterprise’s existing devices to be fed into the refurbishment programmes. Zimmermann believes this is where the market will be going over the next few years. “Hardware vendors should be supporting refurbishment. More and more are taking back enterprise devices,” she said.

This is something the British Standards Institution (BSI) has tried to address with a new kitemark and the BSI 8887 standard. The kitemark combines testing and certification and aims to offer a level of quality control to ensure that the remanufacturing or reconditioning processes carried out by suppliers of remarketed items meet the BSI 8887 family of standards for assembly, disassembly and end-of-life for second-user devices.

The kitemark provides a way for companies specialising in the remanufacture and refurbishment of old IT equipment to show enterprise customers that their devices meet a certain quality standard.

Earlier this month, The Royal Mint signed a deal to purchase refurbished Lenovo laptops with the BSI Kitemark from Circular Computing.

“Sustainability is core to the long-term future of The Royal Mint and our technology function is challenged with delivering sustainable computing for our employees,” said Simon Edwards, head of IT operations at The Royal Mint, discussing the use of second-user devices. “We teamed up with Circular Computing and ran a trial of its sustainable laptops to see if they would be a fit for our needs.”

Read more about refurbished IT

  • A social enterprise and charity in the Scottish Highlands has launched a service to refurbish unused and unwanted laptops – converting them into affordable, high-quality Chromebooks.
  • Channel player Stone Group adds Windows 10 to refurbished hardware and helps others in the market handle their licences.

Read more on IT efficiency and sustainability

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