How The Circular Economy Impacts Data Centre Sustainability
The push by businesses to go green requires circular economy models to achieve data centre sustainability.
The digital economy has grown massively in recent years, further stressing the need for businesses to adopt circular economy models that improve data centre sustainability.
Integrating data centre management with a circular economy and e-waste reduction is something every organisation should endeavour to undertake. With Global Recycling Day on 18 March 2022, what is your business doing to reduce e-waste and to operate with more sustainable data centre management processes?
In this article, Sean Sheehan, CEO of Wisetek, discusses how the Circular Economy has impacted Data Centre sustainability.
Why Does Data Centre Sustainability Matter?
“The backbone of our flourishing digital economy is the data centre,” says Sean Sheehan, “Modern data centres are quite resource-intensive, consuming about one per cent of total electricity consumption worldwide, or 205 terawatt-hours. Reducing this figure will require greater efforts in data centre resource management.”
The good news, however, is that this figure has not marginally changed since 2010 despite data centre computing having quintupled from 2010-to 2018. This can be attributed to many factors, such as the shift towards cloud-based data storage solutions which tend to be far better optimised and efficient than traditional data centres.
Moreover, data centre infrastructure management has also gotten leaner over the past few years, with modern IT assets and network hardware offering greater efficiency per 1Wh compared to just a few years ago.
Developments in Data Centre Sustainability
“Big, multinational corporations are spearheading the move towards solving data centre sustainability issues. In 2020, Microsoft announced with their Carbon Negative Pledge that they will become carbon negative by 2030. This includes a move towards 100% renewable energy for their data centres by 2025 – no small feat.”
Tech giant Google is also on course to become 100% carbon-free, after being the first major company to reduce its carbon footprint to zero. They are doing this all whilst improving output to six times the computing power (as compared to 2016) and a notable 81% e-waste diversion from landfills. Moreover, Google used 23% refurbished inventory for its data centres and resold 8.2 million components to the secondary market from its data centres.
“These companies are paving the way towards positive environmental change with brilliant results thus far. Not only are they becoming more sustainable, but they are also improving output by consistently demonstrating above industry average PUE performance as well.”
The Importance of IT Asset Recycling & Reuse
“To meet data centre sustainability goals, organisations must consider operational factors such as heat and water usage, energy supply, IT asset procurement, as well as IT asset recycling and reuse.” Data Centre Decommissioning can result in massive quantities of e-waste; what steps is your organisation taking to reduce e-waste generation and to divert it from landfills?
Several green IT initiatives can help reduce the nearly 54.7 million tonnes of e-waste generated in 2021. Responsible recycling and reuse are amongst the best ways to achieve this.
“Organisations that choose to refurbish and remarket usable but unwanted IT assets stand to benefit financially through greater return on investment all whilst lessening the impact of e-waste on the environment.” Wisetek’s refurbished IT assets are remarketed on our very own Wisetek Store as used refurbished laptops, refurbished MacBooks, refurbished phones, refurbished desktops, refurbished tablets and more.
The Environmental Impact of Hard Drives
Although competing technologies are emerging for data centre storage solutions, hard disk drives (HDDs) represent a massive global share of the market, growing at 7.0% CAGR from 2014-2021 and with high growth forecasts of 11.2% CAGR to 2029. “For data centres around the world,” says Sheehan, “this corresponds with an increase in end-of-life (EoL) data centre infrastructure and IT assets.”
Disposing of hard drives securely and in an environmentally-friendly manner is essential, due to both the enterprise cybersecurity threats posed by improper data sanitisation or Data Destruction methods as well as the environmental damage that hard drives can cause in landfills.
“Organisations must consider secure and more sustainable methods of Hard Drive Disposal, especially in data centres whereby hundreds or thousands of hard drives must be replaced or otherwise discarded.” This is one of many reasons why IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) is needed; “ITAD processes thoroughly destroy any sensitive data whilst reducing the environmental impacts of e-waste.”
Green IT is the Key to Data Centre Efficiency & Sustainability
Going green with data centre infrastructure is the key to successfully meeting sustainability goals in organisations around the world, and circular economies are helping to achieve these goals.
OEMs are taking charge in leading to sustainable change that affects data centres. For example, Dell announced in 2020 that it had met its goal of recovering two billion pounds of used electronics one full year ahead of schedule. “The company has integrated a fully-functional circular economy model that integrates upstream supply chains all the way downstream to customers who can bring in their electronics for free recycling.”
An integral part of any organisation’s commitment towards environmental stewardship and sustainability must consider IT Solutions that are effective and that yield real, tangible results. Data centre efficiency paired with responsible e-waste disposal, recycling, and reuse help to form a working sustainable symbiosis.
“Wisetek is a pioneering organisation that has adopted a Circular Economy for ITAD and data centre sustainability. Our expertise in this field is beneficial to organisations looking to take a green lead towards sustainability.”
Financial Benefits of Data Centre Sustainability
Efforts to improve data centre efficiency and to shift towards renewable energy sources need not be prohibitively costly. In fact, implementing a circular economy model for data centres and within organisations as a whole can yield cost savings.
Globally, the circular economy is the key to economic growth that can yield as much as $4.5 trillion in economic output by 2030, according to Accenture. “These potential financial gains only strengthen the myriad benefits of circular economies adopted by organisations, including e-waste reduction, secure and responsible hard drive disposal, and IT asset recycling and reuse in data centres and elsewhere.”
The best way to achieve all of these benefits is to choose a reliable ITAD Company with a strong commitment to environmental stewardship as well as secure, fully auditable and accountable processes for secure data destruction such as Wisetek.
Wisetek is Your Green ITAD Partner
Wisetek are experts in data centre services and as circular economy pioneers, we are always working towards helping organisations meet their own sustainability goals. We welcome you to get in touch to learn more about our range of services.
Visit Wisetek Store for more information on purchasing our premium refurbished products.
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