The material cost of a digitalised society

Technology is rightly hailed as a force for good in making the world a fairer, more sustainable place. However, meeting the needs of an increasingly digitalised society has a material cost.

With more and more transactions, processes and communication transferring to the online world, energy usage and greenhouse gasses are increasing faster in this sector than most.

A significant proportion of this is embodied energy in the hardware, which accounts for roughly 50 per cent of overall impact. While this is far from exclusive to the data centre sector, it is something we will need to be increasingly aware of going forward. The good news is that the industry is responding with new research into more sustainable solutions.

There is good research on the horizon which should help with the problem. The Interreg-funded CEDaCI project, which Techbuyer joined in June 2019, is a three year, multi-national project lead by London South Bank University. It has set some high targets, which include increasing reclamation and reuse of Critical Raw Materials (CRM), extending product life through equipment reuse and remanufacture, reducing the use of virgin materials, waste and the environmental impact arising from the growth in redundant equipment. Read more

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