Groene Peper Webinar: Building a Circular Economy for Digital Infrastructure

June 15, 2021

The Data Centre Industry has grown rapidly and generates a large volume of eWaste / WEEE. The current infrastructure for dealing with this waste is underdeveloped and consequently, there is a real and urgent need to address this now. CEDaCI will build a Circular Economy for the Data Centre Industry by bringing together stakeholders from all equipment life cycle stages to turn this waste into a useful resource and support the ongoing rapid growth of the DCI.

The CEDaCI project extends product life through second use and refurbishment, increases dematerialisation through improved EcoDesign Guidelines and increased the WEEE collection, processing and recycling.

Groene Peper hosted a key webinar on these issues, which included a panel hosted by CEDaCI Lead, Dr Deborah Andrews and included Astrid Wynne of Techbuyer, Naeem Adibi from WeLoop, Martijn van der Veer of SIMS Recycling and Mohan Ghandi and Julie Chenadec, both from SD Alliance.

Attendees specifically learnt how about refurbishing and the challenges of this.

Recycling is not always the best answer, as it is not always possible to recover all materials while refurbishment gives greater scope for this and the processes involved also require a lower level of energy. Additionally, working in refurbishment is a higher value job proposition, involving the breaking down of machines into component parts before testing and rebuilding. During this process, machines can even be improved. DEFRA have created legislation asking for a specific percentage of machines to be composed of refurbished computers meaning the sector will grow exponentially.

However, challenges include not all components being replaceable as they are server specific. Additionally, the use of some software can be blocked by hardware, which is an issue that EU legislators are currently working on. The greatest threat to refurbishment is that end users often see it as being an extreme risk in that if the equipment goes on to fail; they assume it is due to the refurbishment process. However, IT equipment does not degrade over time and past generations can even be upgraded to outperform new generations.