Circularity for Data Centres

June 24, 2021
09:00

Proponents of the circular economy are eager to point out that waste does not exist in nature. In the same way nature reuses and recycles its resources, how can we minimise waste in data centre management? A circular economy is restorative and regenerative by design, and aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest quality and value always. Key elements of the circular economy model optimise resources by circulating products, components, and materials in use through different loops of the use cycle. Extensive analysis proves that hardware circularity – keeping assets in their highest utility for as long as possible – can have significant transformative effects on business models, revenue growth and market access across the data centre ecosystem. If it is to become sustainable it is time for the industry to adopt a new way of thinking about the economic and environmental value of data centre technology and how that hardware is managed.

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Technology drives humanity forward, but it also creates environmental and societal challenges that can’t be ignored. Massive data demand is driving faster refresh cycles responsible for 57m tons of e-waste annually. New hardware manufacturing accounts for 70 per cent of the CO2 emissions tied to the industry. And there are still too many barriers between the broad data center ecosystem and the gear needed for affordable, responsible growth. This presentation will show how circular economic models can deliver outsized financial and sustainability benefits for all.
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The CEDaCI project is a unique, ground-breaking venture developing a Circular Economy for the data centre industry. This is particularly important in view of the launch of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan in 2020 and parallel UK plans. The presentation will include a review of CEDaCI activity and output to date including the CDCC – Circular Data Centre Compass. This free online tool is being developed to support procurement teams, operators, designers and manufacturers so they can make more informed decisions about economic, environmental and social sustainability for their businesses and be better prepared to meet the criteria in the CE Action Plan. The tool also includes an innovative Criticality Indicator that shows the type and mass of critical raw materials used in different equipment.
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This presentation will share recent peer-reviewed research and results that proves that refurbished IT equipment performs identical to new, dispelling the myth that second hand equipment is second rate. This presentation will also demonstrate the slowdown in Moore’s Law and how it impacts decision-making in the data centre.
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Digital is hailed as one tool to deliver on every one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, yet with the growth of the sector comes a huge material and energy cost. Data centres are in the privileged position of being to analyse and understand what data generation, storage and transfer costs society and give advice on how to minimise negative impact. This presentation will outline industry moving towards circular supply chains, the impact on infrastructure, buildings and wider communities, and what can stand it the way.
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This session aims to raise the awareness of the International Data Center leaders, who must stop the status quo of taking, using, and discarding resources that we don’t need when building and operating data centers. Together, we must rise up to the global challenge of upcycling waste to innovate, using technology and design thinking processes and the UN Sustainable Development Goals to create circularity. The global data center sector can lead the way in reducing environmental degradation, improving people’s lives, and making a net positive impact to the environment, society, and climate.
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