Ideas for change’ to be formed as Sheffield’s first ‘Climathon’ tackles the digital divide and electronic waste

3rd November 2020

Leading city experts will address a virtual ‘Climathon’ event on the risk of ‘digital exclusion’ among communities during the Covid-19 pandemic when it comes to Sheffield for the first time in November.

Climathon, an annual global event held in hundreds of cities worldwide, is set to address growing concerns about climate change and sustainability. City organisers are able to set their own topics and challenges – in Sheffield, Climathon is about addressing growing concerns surrounding e-waste, electronic provision and the ‘digital divide’, including challenges faced by people that can’t get online. 

The circular economy of e-waste, its effect on the environment and the cause and effect of digital exclusion will also be discussed at Climathon, which will see webinars take place on 10 and 12 November before the main event on 13 November. 

The event series will feature keynote presentations from experts in environment, climate, engineering and digital innovation. Confirmed speakers so far include Dr Hywel Jones from Sheffield Hallam University, Professor Lenny Koh from the University of Sheffield, Dean Sadler, Co-Founder & CEO of TribePad, Robert Walker from Sheffield City Council and Chris Dymond of Sheffield Digital.

David Richards from WANdisco, the company which has teamed up with The Star, Sheffield and Learn Sheffield on the new Laptops for Kids campaign, will also be speaking at the event.

Among those attending will be individuals from social enterprises, local and regional businesses, policy makers, schools and universities.

Hannah Byk, Climathon Project Manager and National Account Manager at BetterPoints, the organisation behind Sheffield’s Climathon, said: “Less than 20 per cent of e-waste in the UK gets recycled, which means there is a huge amount of technology going to waste that could go to someone who really needs it. We’re determined to change that.

“The need to keep people connected has been heightened massively by the Covid-19 pandemic, and it’s no surprise Sheffield has welcomed the Climathon with open arms. 

“Sheffield is an extremely environmentally-aware city, and we’re thrilled to be able to contribute towards improving its environmental and social innovation.”

To register for the event, visit https://climathon.climate-kic.org/sheffield.

Climathon is a global movement and the culmination of a series of ‘Ideathon’ events aimed at encouraging people to collaborate on tackling local climate challenges, with Sheffield’s Climathon set to focus on ways of helping ‘turn electrical waste into practical tools for people that need them’.

In the UK, figures show that more than a third of parents whose children are aged between five and 16 do not have access to a laptop or computer. 

With around a million tonnes of e-waste thrown away each year, Climathon hopes to have a ‘lasting impact’ by making more people aware of ways in which correctly disposing of old electronics could help those without access to technology.

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