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Google sets out plans to stop its datacentre waste going to landfill

Internet giant claims six out of 14 of its global datacentres no longer send any waste to landfill, as a result of its efforts

Google wants to ensure none of the waste generated by its global datacentre footprint goes to landfill, as the internet giant looks to improve the environmental friendliness of its operations.

The internet giant said six out of 14 of its datacentres are already diverting 100% of the waste they produce down more “sustainable pathways” to keep it out of landfill sites. However, it wants to repeat this success across all of the facilities that make up its portfolio of server farms.

“Globally, across our datacentre operations, we are diverting at least 86% of waste away from landfills,” said Rachel Futrell, technical programme manager for datacentre sustainability at Google.

“At our operating datacentres in Europe and APAC [Asia-Pacific] we have reached 100% diversion from landfill, which currently includes a contribution from waste to energy of greater than 10%.

“As we continue to implement new diversion strategies and ways to design waste out altogether, that percentage will decrease,” Futrell added.

The datacentre industry’s approach to sustainability is becoming increasingly scrutinised by campaign groups and legislators, with industry pundits suggesting the sector now consumes around 2% of the energy generated in the world.

A lot of this scrutiny has tended to focus on the energy consumption, efficiency and sourcing habits of datacentre operators, rather than their ability to reuse the waste they produce.

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To help guide its zero waste-to-landfill efforts, the company has used the guidance published by standards agency, UL Environment, to shape its strategy.

“We’ve learned a lot along this journey and will continue to learn more – effort certainly has now been wasteful,” said Futrell.

“Zero waste to landfill requires a careful attention to the types of materials you’re generating and a deep understanding of your resource pathways. It is the just the first step in a long process to sustainably manage our resources throughout the lifecycle of our datacentres,” she added.

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