Where supply chains make a difference
Floating in Rotterdam’s Nieuwe Maas river are 28 blocks of recycled plastic waste the size of dining tables. They are the jigsaw-like parts of the Recycled Park by the Recycled Island Foundation. It’s not only a serene public space: each block stops floating plastic reaching the ocean, cleaning the river and providing a refuge for wildlife.
European consumers produce 27m tonnes of plastic waste annually, and only a third is recycled. Finnish oil refiner Neste is trying to change that. By converting liquefied plastic into a raw material for making fossil fuels, it plans to cut out a million tonnes of plastic waste per year by 2030.
A more efficient way of producing Isoprene (the raw material in synthetic rubber) has been developed by tyre maker Yokohama. The simplified chemical reaction means using less petroleum, producing less carbon dioxide, in tyre production.
United Arab Emirates
New farming methods are vital for a desert country. The International Center for Biosaline Agriculture is growing the UAE’s first halophytic, or salt-loving, vegetables without fresh water. The produce grown in brine, including samphire, could save water and improve food security.
Public Transport Victoria is trialling a mobile ticketing app that needs no new infrastructure, and works with smartphones. The Mobile Myki uses near-field communication tech to work with existing card readers. The trial will be rolled out this year.
Energy-hungry air conditioning could be a thing of the past. Using nanotechnology fibres, scientists at the SJ-NTU Corporate Lab at the Nanyang Technological University have made ceiling panels that filter the air, cooling from above. They use 30% less power than conventional air con.
Carnegie Mellon University scientists have reinvented the wheel – really. Their Reconfigurable Wheel Tracks (RWT) transition from round wheels for hard ground to triangular tracks for soft terrain, while the vehicle is moving. It could improve the mobility of combat vehicles.
Crunching the numbers
The average number of sick days taken by UK workers in 2017 – a record low. This compares to 7.2 days in 1993, when the data was first collected.
The number of distribution centres Zara plans to add to its global supply chain without building any new warehouses, in a bid to use its regional stores to distribute goods bought online.
The portion of British food that was grown on home soil in 2017, compared to 80% 30 years ago. A hot, dry summer has piled the pressure on UK agriculture, with drought threatening both arable and livestock farmers.