At the start of the year, Microsoft announced that it was taking steps to become a carbon negative company by 2030 – meaning that it will be removing more carbon from the environment than it will be emitting. Additionally, the company vowed to remove all of its historical carbon emissions from the environment by 2050.
Now, Microsoft is making further commitments to fight climate change, with president Brad Smith announcing today that all of the Redmond giant's direct operations, products, and packaging will be zero-waste by 2030. To do this, the company will reduce "nearly as much waste" as it generates, and it will reuse or recycle waste from its operations and products. The goal is to, by 2030, manufacture all Surface devices and packaging with recyclable materials, in addition to diverting as much as 90% of the waste originating from its campuses and datacenters, as well as at least 75% of construction and demolition, from landfills.
This commitment entails a series of steps, starting with the introduction of circular centers, which will be located next to datacenter campuses and regions. When decommissioning a server, circular centers will allow Microsoft to determine, on the spot, which parts can be recycled, reused, or sold. Microsoft has piloted this concept in its Amsterdam circular center and said it reduced server downtime, increased availability of network parts for itself and partners, and also reduced the cost of transporting new servers to the location. As it expands the concept, Microsoft says circular centers could increase the reuse of its servers and components by 90% by 2025.
Microsoft also announced that it will be removing single-use plastics from the packaging of its business-to-business primary products as well as in its datacenters by 2025.
Other steps include working to create better waste data so the impact of waste can be more easily analyzed and understood; a $30 million Closed Loop Partners' funds to accelerate the development of products that help reduce waste in various industries; technology to help Microsoft's customers understand how much waste they are emitting; and enlisting the help of Microsoft employees by creating an internal waste data dashboard, as well as internal challenges to encourage employees to reduce their own waste.
Adding this new commitment on top of its goal of becoming carbon negative by 2030, Microsoft's efforts to fight climate change are certainly commendable. Other major tech companies have been making similar commitments, too.