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Major storage vendors join Circular Drive Initiative to combat e-waste

Hard drives partially melted
In 2019, the world generated over 53 million metric tons of e-waste, a number that is projected to reach 74 million metric tons by 2030.

A collaboration of global leaders in digital storage, sustainability, and blockchain have created the Circular Drive Initiative (CDI), a joint effort designed to reduce e-waste by promoting and enabling the secure reuse of storage hardware. Founding members include McDonough Innovation, Seagate Technology and the Chia Network.

According to CDI, in 2019, the world generated over 53 million metric tons of e-waste, a number that is projected to reach 74 million metric tons by 2030. Cloud data centres, which make up nearly half of the world's demand for digital storage, routinely shred and dispose of used drives every 3-5 years to meet growing data demands, with over 22 million drives aging out of data centers every year.

"Much of the e-waste we see from hard drives today is driven by perceived security risk and insufficient secondary markets for this technology," said William McDonough, Chief Executive of McDonough Innovation. "I am thrilled to welcome these founding members on board the initiative as we create a compelling global Circular Economy business case."

CDI aims to significantly reduce the number of disposed hard drives and e-waste by first eliminating data security risks for used drives and then scaling financially viable second-use business cases for drives. The initial focus of the CDI effort is assured data security delivered through safe data encryption, media handling and electronic erasure that meets government approved standards. In this way, cloud data centres and their customers around the world can confidently authorize used storage drives for reuse rather than disposal.

"Seagate is committed to sustainable digital storage. Our self-encrypting drives and instant secure erase capability ensure data can be digitally wiped from our drives to prepare them for redeployment, eliminating risk to customers' private data," said Joan Motsinger, senior vice president of business sustainability and transformation at Seagate. "We are also setting up programs with a number of key customers to harvest components and recycle product materials that will re-enter the supply chain, reducing impact on resources."

CDI will then provide viable second use business cases for erased and secured hard drives. These could deliver new applications like storage-centric blockchains or repurposing drives to serve the digital network needs of developing nations.

CDI is actively seeking additional founding members from major hyperscale data centres, storage providers, and circular IT equipment vendors with a targeted launch date in December of 2021. The Initiative also plans to work with other major organizations tackling circularity in the information, communications, and technology sectors.

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