Virgin Media O2 awards £500,000 to projects preventing e-waste

The funding is being provided as part of the business’s ‘Time After Time’ project, which is operated in partnership with environmental charity Hubbub. Now in its second year, the project is intended to give devices like smartphones and laptops a second life, while providing digital access to those in need.

Virgin Media O2 is notably aiming to digitally connect a million vulnerable people by the end of 2025.

A total of eight projects are sharing the funding pot after the scheme received more than 120 applications.

In London, grants are being provided to the Single Homeless Project, which provides digital skills training and pre-loved devices to those experiencing homelessness, and to Power2Connect, which will provide skills training and devices to people in need across Wandsworth.

Oxfordshire-based SOFEA is taking the largest grant of the eight organisations, at £100,000. The funding will be used to facilitate smartphone, laptop and tablet repair, with these devices being provided to disadvantaged young people seeking employment.

The Giroscope project in Hull and The Making Rooms in Blackburn, which provide similar services, will also benefit.

Elsewhere, Coventry City Council will use grant funding to set up a device lending bank, whereby people can borrow devices and access free O2 mobile data, while Screen Share UK will work to provide refurbished devices to more than 500 refugees and asylum seekers nationwide.

The final funding recipient is think-tank Green Alliance, which will be supported to produce policy recommendations for the UK Government on tackling e-waste and addressing digital exclusion.

The Green Alliance’s grant of £70,000 will support the charity’s research project into redistributing e-waste to tackle digital exclusion and will create a series of policy recommendations for the government.

Virgin Media O2’s chief sustainability officer Dana Haidan said: “The winners of this year’s Time After Time fund are an amazing set of innovative and inspiring projects led by talented people across the country, which share our vision of stopping unwanted tech going to landfill, where instead it can be rehomed with people who need it so they can get online.”

Electronic and electrical waste is, according to the UN, the world’s fastest-growing domestic waste stream. E-waste levels have risen by 82% since 2010 and are on track to rise by a further 32% by 2030. Recycling systems are not being scaled rapidly enough to cope, meaning that billions of dollars of resources embedded in used electronics and electricals are going to waste.

The UK is a key e-waste culprit. UN data has proven that the nation produces more e-waste, on a per capita basis, than every other country except Norway. MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee are urging Ministers to enact regulation and legislation to address this issue.

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