The environmental benefits of embracing circular practices in storage reuse are primarily centered around significant reductions in carbon emissions and e-waste. The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry, particularly the storage sector, contributes substantially to these global challenges. For instance, hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs) account for a large portion of these emissions, with a significant majority occurring during the usage phase.
In any given year, the industry ships hundreds of millions of HDDs and SSDs, a large percentage of which are destroyed after their first use. This practice results in a substantial amount of shredded metal, which if recycled, still leads to a significant volume of carbon emissions. While this amount might seem inconsequential compared to the emissions of a single company, the cumulative impact over time is significant.
Moreover, the carbon emissions avoided by reusing HDDs and SSDs far outweigh those mitigated by recycling the raw materials. The avoided emissions from storage reuse could account for a significant portion of the ICT industry’s total carbon emissions per year.
As for SSDs, as their market grows and the capacity of these drives increases, the associated carbon footprint scales linearly, making reuse an even more crucial strategy for mitigating carbon emissions.
In conclusion, storage reuse, as part of circular practices, presents an effective strategy for reducing carbon emissions and e-waste in the ICT industry. This underscores the need for a transition towards a circular economy, emphasizing the importance of reuse and recycling over disposal.