Advancing Life & Work

Earth Overshoot Day: Bending the curve to a circular economy

Today is officially Earth Overshoot Day, the day when our global demand for ecological resources for a given year exceeds what the planet can regenerate in that year.

   (Planet’s Biocapacity Humanity’s Ecological Footprint) x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day[1]

Earth Overshoot Day has steadily moved up the calendar over the last 50 years, by 6 months to be exact. So what does this mean? It means we are depleting our resource systems at an exponential rate, which can lead to the eventual collapse of our communities. Tragedy of the commons ring a bell, anyone?

Not all hope is lost though! We still have an opportunity to #MoveTheDate. But, how? By adopting the principles of the circular economy, HPE is designing out waste and maximizing the value of resources by examining the entire lifecycle of our products. We address the environmental impacts of HPE products by applying our Design for Environment (DfE) principles, which include energy efficiency, design for recyclability, and materials innovation.

Just think about the positive impact we could have on the planet, if everyone adopted the principles of the circular economy.  We would be able to drive more efficient use of finite resources and reduce humanity’s ecological footprint, putting society in a good position to #MoveTheDate back of Earth Overshoot Day.

Need more convincing? Here are a few recent examples of how HPE is helping #MoveTheDate:  

Improving Resource Efficiency

Most enterprise IT runs at only 20-30% of its capacity, yet under-utilized IT still consumes significant amounts of power while doing nothingcontributing to excess energy and material consumption. At this year’s Discover Las Vegas, HPE CEO, Antonio Neri, announced HPE’s plans to offer our entire portfolio “as a service” by 2022. Meaning, instead of a customer purchasing hardware which will quickly become obsolete, HPE will deliver IT resources to our customer's location and manage the assets, with the customer only paying for what they use. This leads to significant efficiencies by eliminating overprovisioning for infrastructure while avoiding expenses for technology refreshes.

Extending Product Life

Did you know that this year the amount of worldwide e-waste is expected to be about 50 million tons?

At HPE, we apply a holistic approach to product design that results in lower power consumption and reduced waste, helping our company and our entire value chain contribute to a more circular economy. We also provide customers opportunities to return IT hardware to HPE Technology Renewal Centers (TRCs) to be refurbished and remarketed where possible, or recycled if they are no longer usable. In 2018, of the 4 million units that were returned to our TRCs, 89% of them were given new life, and only 11% were sent to recycling. In order to lead by example, HPE refurbishes and recycles our own retired Global IT equipment through our TRCs and will launch an asset-recovery goal in 2019 to publically report our end-of-use IT management.

Powering Research

We also apply our technologies to accelerate research into new technologies that will be needed to power a circular world. In 2018, HPE was commissioned to build a new supercomputer for the United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The Eagle supercomputer will advance research on energy technologies, including renewables.

The system itself is highly efficient, too. Eagle uses less energy than NREL’s prior system Peregrine, which was already the world’s largest supercomputer dedicated to energy efficiency and renewable energy, and is 3.5X more powerful. In just under a minute, Eagle can do as many calculations as there have been seconds in the universe (4.352e17 seconds).[2] Eagle captures 97% of the waste heat it generates through its warm-water liquid cooled design and re-routes it to surrounding office spaces and labs. NREL’s Eagle has already won the prestigious Data Center Dynamics (DCD) Data Center Eco-Sustainability Award, outperforming Facebook and Digital Reality.[3]

While we know it can be overwhelming to think about the current and future state of our planet, the fact of the matter is, we still have time to turn things around. So, first-things-first, we challenge you to calculate your own personal carbon footprint to see what actions you can take to help minimize your ecological impact. We’re optimistic that through our collective efforts, we can #MoveTheDate.

To learn more about how HPE is driving a circular economy and driving down the ecological impacts of our products, visit HPE Living Progress Report.

Christopher Wellise
Chief Sustainability Officer
Hewlett Packard Enterprise




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