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Recycling the Cloud: Singapore facility gives second life to mega servers

Microsoft has opened a plant to tackle the growing stream of e-scrap from data centres. The Circular Center in Singapore provides services for the reuse of computer components in schools, for job training, and much more.

Microsoft aims to reuse 90% of its cloud computing hardware assets by 2025. The launch of this first facility in Asia is claimed to be an important step towards that goal, while also reducing Microsoft’s carbon footprint and creating jobs.

Millions of servers  

Microsoft Cloud is powered by millions of servers in hundreds of data centres around the world and demand for cloud services is growing exponentially. At these facilities, decommissioned servers and other types of hardware can be repurposed or dissembled by technicians before the components and equipment move on to another phase of life.

Microsoft’s Intelligent Disposition and Routing System (IDARS) uses AI and machine learning to establish and execute a ‘zero-waste plan’ for every piece of decommissioned hardware. IDARS also works to optimise routes for these hardware assets and provide Circular Center operators with instructions on how to dispose of each one.

Asia’s recycling frontrunner 

Singapore, with strong government and private sector commitments and agile policy environment, has already laid the foundations for an advanced recycling infrastructure to take advantage of those opportunities. A Microsoft Circular Center in Singapore is in line with this approach, says the tech multinational.

Amsterdam, Chicago, Sydney

Microsoft’s first Circular Center opened in Amsterdam in 2020. Since its inception, the company has reused or recycled 83% of all decommissioned assets. Plans are underway to expand the programme in Washington, Chicago, Sydney and in other locations.

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