When you're a tech giant like Google, you cannot operate without a huge number of data centers. When you're offering hundreds of various software solutions for individuals, groups, and companies, you need these huge concentrations of networked computer servers and you can never have enough of them. Now, Google's data centers are some of the most advanced in the world. They're automated to a large degree and incredibly efficient in storing, processing, and distributing incredibly large amounts of data all around the globe. However, facilities such as these require quite a lot of resources to work properly so it's no surprise that they can easily generate huge amounts of waste.
Luckily, Google is aware of that fact. As Rachel Futrell, the company's technical product manager on data center sustainability revealed in a blog post earlier this week, the Mountain View-based firm has started a new "Zero Waste to Landfill" initiative whose name is pretty self-explanatory. While it doesn't have a set deadline, Google is maximizing its efforts towards running completely waste-free data centers. Today, the company boasts half a dozen data centers with a 100% diversion rate. Futrell revealed that the center located in Mayes County, Oklahoma was the first to achieve that goal and adds that 86% of all waste generated by Google's data centers around the world is being dealt with accordingly, i.e. in a sustainable manner.
According to Futrell, this wouldn't be possible if Google was content with simply achieving a solid power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio. In fact, she stated that the company sees waste as just another resource and has decided to act accordingly and use it as effectively as possible. More specifically, the company's managers started the "Zero Waste to Landfill" initiative by identifying projects that offered added benefit in addition to reducing or diverting waste. One such project resulted in the installation of compactors in the aforementioned Mayes County center last year and plenty more similar steps have been taken in the meantime. Elimination and diversion of waste are not the only techniques Google is using during its quest to run zero-waste data centers. In fact, the company has recently been implementing certain solutions that extend the life of waste so that its centers consequently have to dispose of less waste. In addition to that, Futrell claims Google is now perfectly prepared for the appearance of new waste products, adding how that's the key to achieving the last fifth of diversion rate given how data centers waste streams are always changing.
Despite the apparent success of the initiative and the fact that Google will likely be running zero-waste data centers in the near future, the Mountain View-based tech giant isn't planning on stopping there. As Futrell revealed, this initiative is just the first step towards the company's long-term goal of sustainably managing its resources. One of the other angles Google is currently eyeing is food production. More specifically, the company's VP of global operations, Jim Miller recently revealed that Google is in the process of testing a similarly sustainable approach to the food served in its cantinas. While the tech giant's quest for sustainable resource management didn't start yesterday, the fact that most of the waste generated by its data centers worldwide is now dealt with accordingly is the biggest news on that front since December of 2015. Namely, that's when Google added 842 megawatts of green energy to power its data centers. By doing that, it even managed to break the record for a biggest power-related investment not made by a power company in history. That obviously huge statement of intent has just been reinforced now and it remains to be seen how long it will take Google to reach that "Zero Waste to Landfill" goal. As things stand right now, it probably won't take long.