Kristina, Kerwin; Andrews, Deborah; Adibi, Naeem; Whitehead, Beth; Bienge, Katrin; Szablewski, Carolina; Chenadec, Julie; Ponugubati, Manoj
Data centres house data processing and storage equipment. The data centre industry (DCI) has evolved very rapidly since launch of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s. Numerous different sectors have evolved in line with and become dependent on digital technology and services. There are 8 million data centres across the world, growth is ongoing and it is predicted that provision will increase by 500% by 2030 as more people and objects become connected (via the Internet of Things). Millions of tonnes of resources, including Critical Raw Materials, are already utilised by the sector, and demand will increase concurrently with sectoral growth. However, the DCI is based on a linear economy and recycling and materials reclamation infrastructure are also inadequate. Millions of tonnes of materials are either lost to landfill, incinerated, or unaccounted for end-of-life; furthermore, many virgin materials are located in geopolitically sensitive locations. The combined impact of these factors poses a threat to the supply chain, the DCI and all services and activities that rely on it. The CEDaCI project was developed to increase overall sectoral sustainability by addressing the various technical, cultural, and behavioural barriers across the DCI, including fragmentation (due to sub-sectoral silo-working) and focusing on energy than systemic (operational and embodied) efficiency. This paper describes the whole systems approach and CEDaCI project outputs, including bespoke Eco-design guidelines, strategies and digital tools to increase product life extension and recycling, to enable better decision-making to increase circularity in the DCI, prepare and support implementation of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan and a secure and sustainable resource supply chain.