Google has announced a commitment to a ’Zero Waste to Landfill’ policy for its data centers, which means that no rubbish generated at its facilities should end up in municipal waste sites.
So far, six of the company’s data centers have hit the 100 percent diversion rate, out of a total of 14 sites.
Instead, waste “is diverted 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 Rachel Futrell said in a blog post.
The technical program manager of data center sustainability continued: “Our approach is based off the standard created by UL Environment who we partnered with to ensure the guidelines we created for our facilities were aligned and compliant with how UL defines and monitors the process.”
The six data centers that reached zero waste to landfill are:
- Dublin, Ireland
- Hamina, Finland
- St Ghislain, Belgium
- Changhua County, Taiwan
- Mayes County, Oklahoma
Futrell cited Mayes County as an example of how the company minimized waste. At the Oklahoma facility, it deployed a type of trash compactor which she said not only helps “divert waste more effectively, it also gives us accurate weight data for tracking, reduces the number of pick-ups our vendor has to make (saving us and them time and money) and is cleaner overall for the site (reducing how much janitorial work is needed).”
She added: “Zero waste to landfill requires a careful attention to the types of materials you’re generating and a deep understanding of your resource pathways. All these learnings allow us to keep pushing towards zero waste to landfill, but also to start looking upstream to add circular economy practices into our operations.”
The initiative is the latest in a series of green moves from the company, which are often both cost-effective and good for public relations.
In July, Google bought 236MW of output from two upcoming Nordic wind farms; in June it said it would buy renewable power in Taiwan; in May it joined the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance; and last December it announced five new deals to buy a total of 781MW of renewable energy during the week of the Climate Summit in Paris.
Google says that its data centers use half “of the energy of most other data centers,” and that across all of its facilities it is “responsible for about 0.01% of global electricity use.”
Earlier this year the company said that its AI subsidiary DeepMind was able to cut data center PUE by 15 percent.