CEDaCI - Circular Economy for the Data Centre Industry

Project Summary

Circular Economy for the Data Centre Industry 

Background and context

Since the development of the world wide web in the late 1980s digital communication has proved incredibly popular and more than 4.2 billion (55% of global population) are now ‘connected’ via mobile phones, laptop, desk and other computers; consequently, approximately 8.6 million data centres have been set up around the world to handle the streams of digital information. These data centres may be cupboard-sized or, like the largest in the world, equivalent in area to 93 football pitches; regardless of size they all house digital data processing, networking and storage (ICT) equipment to ensure uninterrupted connectivity. At present in Europe data centres cover about 10 million m2 floor area, 70% of which is concentrated in North West Europe (NWE), especially in the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands. The ongoing development of Internet of Things (IoT) and other services is creating concurrent growth in data exchange and storage and it is predicted that this will be met with a 300% increase in data centres in Europe by 2025 and a 500% global increase in data centres by 2030.

The challenge

The main priority of the data centre (DC) industry is 100% uninterrupted operation and service to customers and consequently the sector has concentrated on technology and product development, manufacture and operation. At present DC equipment life is only 1-5 years and consideration of what happens to the equipment when it reaches end-of-life has been limited; as a result data centres contribute to the annual global production of 11.8 Mt/year of WEEE (Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment), which is the one of the fastest growing waste streams. Although some equipment remains in Europe a significant volume is exported; it may be recycled, stockpiled and/or sent to landfill and consequently millions of tonnes of resources are wasted and/or become inaccessible. WEEE contains a number of Critical Raw Materials (CRM) which are economically valuable and technically essential to data centre operation; however, their supply is vulnerable to disruption.

The project  

The CEDaCI project will build a Circular Economy for the Data Centre Industry to increase reclamation and reuse of Critical Raw Materials in the sector, extend product life through equipment reuse and remanufacture, reduce use of virgin materials, waste and environmental impact arising from the growth in redundant equipment and develop a secure and economically viable CRM supply chain for the sector. At present only 10% of CRM from the sector are recycled and recovered but this will increase to 19% and 24% 5 and 10 years after the project ends; reuse of equipment will also increase to 65% and 75% respectively and at end-of-life overall product ‘waste’ will be reduced to 35% and 25%.  

Methodology and output 

This will be achieved through a whole life approach to the problem: the project will bring together stakeholders from across the sector (designers, manufacturers, operators, refurbishers, recyclers) in a knowledge-sharing network; they will engage in a Co-creation Platform and 3 integrated Pilots for 3 life cycle stages (design, life extension and end-of-life). Project output includes: 2 products/processes/technologies developed & tested in real life conditions; EcoDesign/Design for CE Guidelines (to accelerate manufacture of CE-fit products); a Decision Making Tool (DMT) for all DC sub-sectors to optimise CE business models; and improved refurbishment, recycling and reclamation strategies for WEEE and CRM. These will feed into bespoke technical assistance (DMT training sessions) for 80 DCI businesses and 10 public,regional and local organisations; advice and guidelines for policy-influencers and makers; and a physical and virtual demonstrator that explains the CE context, processes and benefits. A Long Term Strategy (LTS) with 10-year maintenance plan will ensure the project impact and long term legacy.

CEDaCI External Website


Application to join CEDaCI network

CEDaCI Survey

Project Partners

Lead partner

Organisation Address Email Website
London South Bank University 103 Borough Road
United Kingdom
atmacan@lsbu.ac.uk http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/
Name Contact Name Email Country
Wuppertal Institute for climate, environment and energy Katrin Bienge katrin.bienge@wupperinst.org Germany
Green IT Amsterdam Julie Chenadec julie.chenadec@greenitamsterdam.nl Netherlands
TEAM2 Gratienne Goorden g.goorden@team2.fr France
WeLOOP Naeem Adibi n.adibi@weloop.org France
Terra Nova Development Christian Thomas christian.thomas@worldonline.fr France
Free ICT Europe



Partnership Meetings

Co- Creation Workshops

Site Visits


Fully funded, virtual SME training programme 

The CEDaCI team involves a network of experts including data centre operators and consultants, metals recycling and reclamation companies, experts in consumer and end-user behaviour, as well as policy developers and influencers. We are now looking to add Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to this prestigious network.

We are also offering SMEs three-hour-long fully funded training sessions on key CEDaCI issues including:

  • Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment 
  • CDCC (Circular Data Centre Compass) – an online tool designed to assist SMEs in IT (design/procurement/end-of-life) decision making
  • Sessions to discuss recycling, product life extension and Ecodesign.



The Circular Data Centre Compass (CDCC) 

The Circular Data Centre Compass (CDCC) enable users to choose from the following tool options: Compare, Ecodesign Evaluator and End-of-life to assess their servers at various stages of their life.

All options were developed in line with the EU Circular Economy Action Plan 2020 and other eco-design directives and regulations as well as the empirical data collected by CEDaCI from the material breakdown and assessment of various server models.

Watch the CDCC video here.

Join the programme

Your application should only take a few minutes to complete. Once we have received this, we will review it and be in touch to take you through the next steps.

Join the programme

CEDaCI Training Timeline

1 - Application Deadline

Applications are due before 11.59 PM CET on 25 April 2023. They will then be processed by our team and all applicants notified of their status. We are processing applications as we receive them and may close the opportunity early in the event all spaces are filled.

2 -  Trainings Start 

Members will have already received their welcome pack and been added to the CEDaCI Network. 

3 - Become Alumni 

Members can continue to network with their peers and get access to news and CEDaCI Network events until September 2023.