Emerging Trends in Recycling and Waste Management

Waste management is an inelegant subject to discuss, but a crucial one when thinking about national infrastructure. With a growing population, and a finite volume of resources, cities across the US begin to buckle.

Waste collection and disposal is a small but essential part of a larger societal puzzle, and a vital discussion when sustainability measures are more important than ever before. But change is afoot, as the following emergent trends in recycling and waste management effectively illustrate.

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Zero Waste Programs

Zero waste programs are the bread and butter of contemporary waste management solutions, being agitated for by sustainability activists and local communities and receiving widespread corporate support. Big businesses are increasingly on-board to re-evaluate their business’ waste practices – and to seek ways to bring excess waste down to zero.

More importantly, US cities are getting on board, with municipal waste programs that promote recycling and re-use techniques to citizens and businesses alike.

Technological Advancements

1. Tech-Enabled Waste Receptacles

There are many ways in which technological is having a positive impact on waste management, but some smaller developments are set to have a significant effect on urban waste collections and cleanliness. One specific scheme has seen compactors installed in larger city waste containers, allowing a much larger amount of waste to be stored.

Sensors are used in tandem with new compactor technology to alert waste removal services when an area is ready for collection. This cuts down on fuel costs and logistical issues, through cutting down the number of waste trucks and visits needs to clear an area.

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AI-based waste management systems can help in route optimization and waste disposal

2. Domestic 3D Printing

Developments beyond the world of waste management could provide their own unique solutions to domestic waste management, as evidenced by the possibilities created by the 3D printer. 3D printers have become a commercial success at rapid speed, enabling consumers to ‘print’ their own designs and products out of a plastic compound. With the help of firewire cables and basic CAD software, product design has been effectively democratized.

But more innovation is on the way, as the prospect of directly recycling plastics into new products becomes a reality. Waste plastics could be ground up in the home and used to feed 3D printers, in order to create new items and effectively eliminate plastic landfill waste from that household.

Harvesting Energy

Energy harvesting from organic sources is nothing new; water treatment facilities frequently harvest methane from solid waste extracted from sewage supply, for re-sale to the energy industry. But the methods used to harvest energy from organic processes are only getting more efficient.

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The result is a concerted effort to create renewable energy from organic waste sites, through the creation of bioenergy-producing waste disposal locations that receive biodegradable waste to transform into energy.

E-Waste

But, even with real leaps forward in sustainable waste measures and new technological implementations, there are new challenges on the horizon when it comes to waste management. The key challenge relates to the safe disposal of ‘e-waste’, a.k.a. disposed items of electronics – of which there is a steady-growing volume.

Electronic waste items contain dangerous materials, from toxic rare-earth minerals to corrosive substances that toxify the local environment. Recycling efforts are ongoing, but there is no easy way out for recycling circuitry. This illustrates the ongoing need for urgency in the fight against unsustainable waste.

What is the Future of the Construction Industry?

The story of the world economy over the last few decades has been one of rapid digitisation. New technology is playing a role in just about every facet of life – and the construction industry is no exception. We’re using computers to not only design and plan structures, but to actually build them, too. So what new developments can we look forward to in the future? Read on to know more about the tech trends in the construction industry:

1. Virtual and Augmented Reality

It’s difficult to get an idea of exactly how a finished building will look before it’s actually constructed. After all, a top-down plan of a proposed conservatory, loft conversion, or leisure centre, is not going to convey the full reality of the finished product. As such, we’ve always accepted a degree of uncertainty.

Virtual reality in construction

That’s likely to change in the near future, thanks to the emergence of artificial and virtual reality products. It’s now possible to use a VR headset to look around a computer-generated version of a proposed project, and make minor changes before a single brick has been lain. Or, we might use augmented reality as the project is ongoing to achieve much the same thing.

2. Green Buildings

The need to reduce emissions and make buildings sustainable has never been more pressing. This means more efficient envelopes, and energy that’s generated right in the buildings themselves. The homes of the future might come will ultra-efficient photovoltaic rooftops, or ground-source heat pumps.

3. Construction Insurance

As the industry progresses, firms are likely to come up against new and unexpected kinds of risk, which will necessitate specialised forms of construction insurance.

4. Smart Homes

The smart home has been something of a buzzword in recent years, though there are some misconceptions about home automation. With all of the energy-consuming appliances and devices able to communicate with one another, we’re afforded an accurate picture of a given home’s energy consumption – and we’re able to tweak the dials via algorithms. The rollout of smart meters means that energy companies can react swiftly to changes in demand, thereby lowering costs and bolstering overall efficiency.

smart-homes

Over the coming decades, it’s likely that this principle will be expanded to encompass not just individual homes, but entire estates, and eventually cities.

5. 3d Printing

Additive manufacturing is something that’s been revolutionary in the world of prototyping, but hasn’t quite lived up to the considerable hype in the world of construction. It’s probable that in the future, construction as we know it will be done through entirely different means, and that walls will be thrown up using materials extruded from a machine-controlled nozzle, in much the same way as small-scale 3d printers do today.

It’s possible to throw up buildings incredibly quickly and cheaply using this technology – provided that the initial expense of the printer itself is overcome.