Thought leadership
SDG goals and targets

A bold strategy to help Google accelerate the transition to a circular economy.


Reaching true circularity demands that we redefine value, processes, choices, assumptions, and industrial protocols that have been standard practice across our economy for decades. A truly systemic shift to a circular economy goes way beyond Google, but what is the unique role for one of the worlds largest technology companies?

What if we saw waste as a data problem?

The solution

We helped identify, articulate and visualise a big idea for Google: what if we saw waste as a data problem? An inspiring proposition for a team of people who live and breathe data’s potential and its challenges. From here we helped Google define a bold circularity goal, theory of change and core circular principles.

For each area of impact - Google data centres, workplaces and consumer electronics - resources and material flows were mapped. We introduced a set of sub-goals in each area of the business with the objective to intercept each resource flow at its optimal time to promote the most favourable circular outcome.

Designing a roadmap to achieve the goal was inspired by the steps taken to develop a basic algorithm.


of waste from Google’s global data centre operations diverted from landfill

The impact

The strategy set Google on a new direction to use its expertise, scale and influence to support the systemic shift to circularity. Google has already diverted 90% of waste from its global data centre operations away from landfills. But it’s not just about what happens within Google. In 2021, Google partnered with the United Nations Environmental Programme to develop a new machine learning model that reveals a more detailed and accurate view of plastic pollution in the areas neighbouring the Mekong River in Thailand.

Google helps tackle plastic pollution in the Mekong River, aided by machine learning


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