Microsoft hits 84% asset reuse rate in data centers

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by | February 26, 2021


A year after establishing a handful of guiding sustainability targets, Microsoft this month published a progress report. The report touched on the company’s move to increase reuse at its data centers.

Microsoft has plans to significantly expand its data center footprint beyond the current 3 million servers and related hardware, the company wrote.

“But we must do this with our sustainability goals in mind, and that is more than just reducing the power they consume,” Microsoft wrote. “Today, these servers have an average lifespan of five years. To better manage this waste stream, Microsoft is increasing control and innovating to create closed loop models.”

The company last year announced a project to create “Circular Centers,” facilities that will be co-located with each new data center. These facilities are designed to optimize data center asset reuse, by analyzing and improving asset retirement schedules and other metrics.

“The Circular Centers are an integral part of our design-for-sustainability workstreams, providing a responsive feedback flow of information, with learnings linked to reuse, disassembly, reassembly, and recycling shared with our design and supply chain teams to inform future sustainable generations of equipment,” the company stated.

Microsoft is expanding beyond its current Circular Center pilot project, located in Amsterdam. One of the first U.S. Circular Centers will be located in Virginia, the company reported, and new European facilities are planned in Ireland and Sweden.

“The Circular Centers will contribute to and increase our reuse of servers and components up to 90% by 2025,” Microsoft wrote. In the 2020 fiscal year, the company hit an 84% reuse rate across its data centers, up from 74% in 2019.

Also in 2020, the company announced a goal to make its Surface devices, a line of touchscreen PCs, fully recyclable in certain countries by 2030. In 2020, the Surface Pro X and Surface Book 3 devices achieved 95% recyclability, the company reported.

Microsoft expanded on its Surface device goals and progress in a separate sustainability report specific to recyclability of devices and their packaging. That report covers the 2020 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2020.

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