Remanufacturing offers green cost-cutting tech strategy 

A new technology procurement strategy involving remanufactured IT could cut costs while driving more sustainable practices. 

According to Steve Haskew, Sustainability Director at Circular Computing - a company focused on decarbonising technology procurement processes -  the NHS could save over £500 million by replacing its IT estate with remanufactured laptops. 

This comes as NHS leaders seek ways to navigate a growing economic crisis that threatens to delay hospital projects as rising borrowing costs make it more expensive to build new units.

Circular Computing’s remanufactured technology - not to be confused with refurbished or second hand - is certified by the British Standards Institution as ‘good as new’ and comes at a fraction of the cost; up to 40% cheaper, according to Haskew.

At a time when government departments are operating under severe financial constraints, those savings could be allocated to other budgets or reinvested into new projects.Steve Haskew_Headshot (1)

Circular Company is the only remanufacturing factory in the UK and the organisation is already working with 12% of local governments, as well as the NHS ambulance service, Haskew tells Government Transformation Magazine. 

The remanufacturing process, which avoids the depletion of many of the Earth's limited resources, means there’s a sustainability advantage too: for every Circular Computing remanufactured laptop, approximately 316kg (700lb) of carbon emissions are prevented by not buying new. The company also plants five trees for every laptop it makes as part of a social value drive. 

There is a pressing need for greener technology procurement strategies. The traditional IT industry has a habit of creating new products, using them and then disposing of them - known as the linear economy - which is incredibly wasteful, explains Haskew. “This electrical waste stream is a massive problem, especially amid dwindling resources. Over Covid, we saw a shortage of supply, leading the UK government to launch its ‘critical minerals strategy’, which promotes innovation for a more efficient circular economy for critical minerals.”

Against this backdrop, remanufacturing is likely to play an important role in helping to decarbonise IT procurement, while pushing the UK towards its net-zero targets. 

Given the growing political and social focus on reducing carbon emissions, the onus on government departments to examine its sustainable policies is only increasing. Defra Digital, Data and Technology Services (DDTS), through its Greening Government ICT agenda, has recognised the importance of finding new solutions that deliver government digital services more sustainably. 

Changing perceptions

The biggest obstacle standing in the way of more organisations making the switch is perception, Haskew explains.

“In much of the public sector, there is still a three-year linear buying habit, which revolves around this perception that new and shiny is best; the question around whether products need to be bought brand new or if there is a different way of doing it is rarely asked.”

There is still a gap in knowledge around what remanufactured technology means and with that, concerns and questions around quality and performance. “The exploration and onboarding process can take between 3-6 months, but a large part of that time frame is dedicated to educating organisations and trying to change perceptions,” Haskew explains. 

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