Why the Public Sector Should be the Standard-bearer for Remanufactured Tech

By Rod Neale, CEO and Founder of Circular Computing.

  • 1 month ago Posted in

As the technology industry evolves rapidly, the demand for new products continues to grow. The announcement by Microsoft that they will no longer support Windows 10 from October 2025 has left customers and businesses aware that they may need to upgrade their laptops within the next year, even if their current model is still up and running.  


The move was discussed recently at the Re: Sustainable IT Summit in the United Arab Emirates. A spokesperson at the summit from Canalys, a global technology market analyst firm, predicted that 240 million PCs could become e-waste because of these changes. With 85% of carbon emitted from a laptop coming at the production end, this is a concerning figure.  


Against this backdrop the stage is set for the increased adoption of remanufactured technology, preventing waste, reducing carbon emissions and keeping the cost of replacement devices down. Although still an emerging category, 40% of IT leaders at the summit believed that by 2028 pre-used laptops will make up one in five (20%) of those bought by businesses. Perhaps Microsoft's decision could be the push needed to change our perceptions and move towards remanufactured.  


The challenge is focusing on a single group that will drive the most impact to make the change and begin the movement. Remanufactured technology is tailor-made for organisations with clear sustainability goals who are looking for an alternative to brand new, which delivers value for money and – crucially – works at least as well as a brand-new device. This is why I believe the public sector is the perfect group to act as standard-bearers, due to its influence and large number of employees working within a small number of organisations. 


Compared with small businesses, these large public sector organisations face different pressures from the private sector to drive sustainability. Although the majority of UK enterprises – about 5.5 million – are classified as small businesses, it is impractical to sell an idea to SMEs one at a time. Instead, greater impact and adoption can be achieved by focusing on large organisations that will purchase in bulk and have a louder voice to encourage others.  


Evidence from peer-reviewed research by Cranfield University shows that remanufactured devices cut carbon footprints significantly, by producing only 6.34% of the CO2 in comparison to brand new. Organisations such as the NHS and the police force are all conscious of meeting sustainability targets while still being cost-effective and contributing to their sustainability report. This means their buy-in on second-life hardware could be a hugely significant endorsement. 


The hurdle we face is the assumption that a remanufactured laptop is a step down from brand new. However, this is not the case. Circular Computing’s 360-point Circular Remanufacturing Process demonstrates the commitment to quality, and this is backed by the BSI Kitemark stating the laptops are ‘equal to or better than new’. 


A recent case study we did with the NHS illustrates the scale of the savings that can be made, critical for an organisation seeking more funding and where every penny spent is scrutinised. Each laptop sold is up to 40% cheaper than a comparable new model, as well as being able to contribute to sustainability goals of companies. Imagine that being done at scale and the potential savings and ESG benefits are huge.  


The direction of travel is already being seen across the Channel, with French public sector organisations required to put 20% of their annual procurement budget into devices that are reused, refurbished or contain recycled materials.      


With all the movement happening in the technology industry, the sooner we lean into practical solutions the better position we will find ourselves in, as both individuals and organisations. The key, however, is to save time and resources by going directly to the largest and most influential sector and let them sing the benefits from the rooftops.  

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