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Data center industry reports less device recycling

Supermicro’s annual survey found fewer respondents are choosing certified recycling operators. | Maximumm/Shutterstock

A survey of data centers found the IT-rich facilities are moving in the wrong direction when it comes to recycling their hardware.

Supermicro, a San Jose, Calif.-headquartered cloud computing company, this month released its second “Data Centers and the Environment” report, an annual survey of more than 5,000 IT professionals. Among other findings, the report shows fewer data centers are recycling their assets, and of the facilities that are, fewer are choosing certified recycling operators.

“The primary means of handling outdated server hardware from data centers has worryingly changed since 2018,” the report states. “In 2019, companies recycling their decommissioned hardware has dropped across the board.”

Supermicro reported that the number of data center companies working with certified recycling firms dropped from 42% of respondents in 2018 to 28% in 2019. Meanwhile, the percentage of companies that reported working with a non-certified recycling firm only grew from 7% to 9% in 2019. Fewer respondents reported recycling data center hardware in-house.

An additional 8% of respondents said they dispose of data center hardware without any type of recycling. That was slightly down from 9% in 2018.

Still, despite the apparent dip in data center equipment recycling, Supermicro noted the larger percentage of respondents reusing hardware for other tasks within their operations. The report noted this could indicate “a trend toward product life cycle extension,” but Supermicro also pointed out that there are limited less-demanding applications for repurposed data center hardware.

Data center device disposition has become a growing sector of the e-scrap and ITAD industries, increasing alongside the rise of cloud computing.

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