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Google Targets Zero Waste ‘Moonshot’

Google zero waste data centersGoogle has pledged to achieve zero waste in all of its global data centers.

The company didn’t set a timeline for this goal, but says it defines zero waste to landfill as diverting 100 percent “to a more sustainable pathway with no more than 10 percent of it going to a waste-to-energy facility, unless waste-to-energy can be proved more valuable than alternative diversion paths.”

Google’s waste management approach is based on UL Environment’s zero waste to landfill standard. The tech giant says it partnered with UL Environment to develop and monitor its zero waste goal.

In a blog announcing Google’s “Moonshot to Zero,” Jim Miller, vice president of global operations, says six of Google’s 14 data centers have achieved 100 percent landfill diversion.

In addition to reducing waste, applying circular economy approaches to its server management has saved the company million of dollars in materials, Miller writes. “We…have evidence that we don’t need to sacrifice one shade of green for another.”

Globally, the company’s data center operations divert at least 86 percent of waste, writes Rachel Futrell, technical program manager, data center sustainability, in a different blog.

The company says it plans to achieve 100 percent waste diversion by first looking to reuse its equipment and materials before buying new. If it can’t be reused, Google erases the data and then resells the equipment.

“In 2015, 52 percent of components used for machine upgrades were refurbished inventory and Google resold nearly 2 million units into the secondary market for reuse by other organizations,” Miller writes.

The remaining hardware that can’t be reused or resold is recycled.

Google is also targeting other waste streams. In the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, the company has achieved an 86 percent diversion rate in part by large-scale composting and using a software system called LeanPath that tracks food waste.

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2 thoughts on “Google Targets Zero Waste ‘Moonshot’

  1. UL Environment’s zero waste to landfill standard allows incineration. Incineration is not an acceptable diversion from the landfill, as the ash is ultimately landfilled, and the air pollution from the incineration is toxic and increases emissions.

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