The Green Grid, the non-profit, open industry consortium to improve the resource efficiency of data centres and business IT, has announced that it is working with the StEP Initiative to put organisations on track to understand, measure, and manage how they dispose of electronic equipment at the end of its useful life. Changing pressures on IT managers as a generation of equipment deployed in the data centre boom of the 90s reaches the end of its natural life and attention shifts to the question of disposal mean that The Green Grid is looking to collaborations like this to expand its knowledge base and continue meeting the needs of its members.
Through its work with the Solving the E-waste Problem (StEP) Initiative – a leading think tank hosted by the United Nations academic arm, the United Nations University (UNU) that works internationally to develop policy and best practice for the management of end-of-life electronic equipment by businesses and the consumer public – The Green Grid also aims to unite two distinct camps within the green IT movement: “Typically, The Green Grid’s activities have been in the energy and emissions area of green IT, which has a strong focus on data centres and enterprise. But there is another strand of green IT, looking at materials, waste, and recycling, that focuses more on office equipment. These two areas don’t often intersect – this collaboration is an effort to unite them as never before,” explained The Green Grid Board Member John Pflueger.
“With organisations using more and more electronic equipment on a daily basis, they are becoming increasingly concerned with the question of how to dispose of these devices responsibly, and we realised that e-waste is a key topic for The Green Grid to be addressing. We are looking to StEP’s deep understanding of the issues to help educate and guide our research and work on new metrics in this area, for example,” Pflueger continued, explaining the rationale behind the collaboration.

The first product of the new co-operation was The Green Grid’s recently-published white paper introducing its new e-waste metric, Electronics Disposal Efficiency (EDE): an IT recycling metric for enterprises and data centres. StEP’s e-waste experts were involved at every stage of the development of the white paper, helping ensure that the EDE metric provides an accurate representation of the situation of organisations. “We want our knowledge and expertise to find useful real-world application, so it was very important to us to provide our recommendations for this new metric,” said Ruediger Kuehr, Executive Secretary of the StEP Initiative.
The Green Grid is now looking for organisations to pilot the EDE metric, Pflueger said: “A number of companies have already expressed an interest in EDE. They will be helping us to work out what criteria and measurements need to be specified more rigorously, for instance. We hope to develop a number of case studies demonstrating e-waste best practice and provide a process for organisations to decide on their individual strategies.”

Kuehr expressed his satisfaction at the achievements of the collaboration so far, but cautioned that there is much more to come: “We are only at the very beginning of the e-waste discussion – phase one, if you like. In creating the Electronics Disposal Efficiency metric, we have taken an important first step, but now the real work begins to help organisations identify and understand all their waste streams and find the best disposal pathways for them,” he concluded.