Zero Waste for data centre servers?

Swiss Vault aims to build data storage systems with ZERO waste.

We are proud to announce that we are working with a consortium to conduct research & development to elucidate where improvements can be made in our products to fully re-use and/or recycle the components.

Swiss Vault has teamed up with researchers in nano-sensors from the University of Gothenburg (Sweden), The Research Institute of Sweden (RI.SE), and UrbanGold – a technology and service provider for e-waste recycling from Austria. The consortium was brought together by European Commissions Green House Gas (EIC GHG) program.

The world’s data is growing exponentially with the advancement of digital technologies, like smartphones, digital health, and self-driving cars. Seagate (a leading manufacturer of disk drives and SSD) estimates a 400% increase in data by 2025. The world will experience a corresponding exponential growth in electronic-waste. E-waste is considered the “fastest-growing waste stream in the world” with 53.6 million tonnes generated in 2019. By 2030, we will be generating 74.7 million tonnes at a growth rate of 4% per year. The approximate value of the global e-waste today is $57 billion annually in terms of precious metals (gold, silver) and other reusable components.

Recycling and recovery of precious materials from data servers is arduous and not efficient.

In the best of cases, 30% of e-waste passes through the recycling process and is not recovered. However, data server racks are highly complex with many integrated parts making it more difficult to recycle them. Each server rack weighs on average 800 kg.

Disassembly is labour intensive, and mixed metals are often difficult to separate and sort.

Taken together, the need for improved design of components (e.g. PCBs) and full assembly of products (e.g. servers) will alleviate the major challenge for recycling companies to safely recover as much material as possible for manufacturing reuse.

The consortium will build a methodology to help companies during their product development phase to assess the recycling strategy. It is cumbent on manufacturers to make their products aligned with recycling for a Zero waste future. We look forward to sharing our development in the near future.

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