Tag: China

The Chinese Military’s Next Generation: Exoskeletons

 

When looking at advances in technology, the hope is it will be used in non-violent or destructive ways; in other words, not for military use.

Unfortunately, thinking along these lines are unrealistic and with the current climate we are living in, the military will gladly accept anything with technology that can protect soldiers from harm, cause ultimate damage on the enemy and protect civilians from any kind of a missile attack.

Recently, an article described such an advance in military technology as China is working right now on a new generation of military exoskeletons.

Reportedly, they are moving closer to having Iron Man-like capabilities.




Writers Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer posted an article that looks at how China is working on advancing their technology when it comes to military exoskeleton’s.

Their latest powered exoskeleton is able to transport roughly one-hundred pounds of supplies, gear and ammunition. This would increase the self-sufficiency and combat capability of the infantry for the Chinese.

What Is an Exoskeleton?

Before moving on, it is important to understand first what an exoskeleton is and why the military would want to develop one.

Known as an exosuit, powered armor, hardsuit, power armor and an exoframe; a powered exoskeleton is a wearable machine that is mobile and powered using a system of hydraulics, electric motors, pneumatic’s, levers or a combo of technologies that enable movement of limbs with added endurance and strength.

Obviously, this would allow a soldier to perform important tasks on a mission that would not have been accomplished without using one.

Norinco Manufacturer’s Second-Generation Exoskeleton

Norinco is a manufacturer that is owned by China that produces heavy ground munitions and armored vehicles. They also have created its second-generation military exoskeleton.

The debut of this new exoskeleton boasts a designed body brace that will assist members of the infantry to carry roughly one-hundred pounds of ammunition, weapons and supplies.

Norinco had previously debuted its first-generation exoskeleton back in 2015 and comparing it to their new one, it has a streamlined harness, the battery is considered better, and a more robust pneumatic and hydraulic actuator.

This new generation is said to be lighter and most likely will lower the strain felt by the wearer of the exoskeleton; this would be more beneficial for soldiers finding themselves in a mountainous terrain.

The Implications for Combat Operations

The push by China to develop powerful exoskeletons will impact almost every area involving combat operations.  Their special operators and infantry would be able to transport heavy equipment over long distances as well as individuals being able to utilize body armor.

That is, if their plans become successful.  Also, the exoskeletons would look like the Americans concepts that include the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit – none of these can yet fly like Iron Man.

While the exoskeletons would not be able to accomplish the amazing feats as seen in Iron Man comics and movies, the more practical uses for soldiers would be to help completing many support tasks, which include repairing ships, loading supplies and getting missiles onto airplanes.

Meanwhile, China’s next generation of military Exoskeletons are one step closer to executing feats that were once considered to be science fiction; son, they will become science fact.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Ehang’s Passenger-Carrying Drones Look Insanely Impressive In First Test Flights

Two years ago, Chinese drone maker Ehang came to CES in Las Vegas and promised to build a completely autonomous, passenger-carrying quadcopter that would revolutionize mobility.

Many of us in the tech community chortled under our breath, wondering if such a thing was even possible, let alone advisable.

Today, the company released footage of its first piloted test flights in China — and color us impressed: this thing is no joke.

Ehang’s engineers put the quadcopter, dubbed the Ehang 184, through a battery of tests over the last several months, and with good measure.




The company conducted over 1,000 test flights with human passengers, including a 984-foot vertical climb, a weight test carrying over 500 pounds, a routed test flight covering 9.3 miles, and a high-speed cruising test that reached 80.7 mph.

Ehang’s engineers also tested the 184 in a variety of weather conditions, including high heat, heavy fog, night tests, and during a Category 7 typhoon with gale-force winds.

Clearly, it would seem that Ehang heard our skepticism after its first announcement and it aimed to respond with supporting data.

What we’re doing isn’t an extreme sport, so the safety of each passenger always comes first,” said Ehang founder and CEO Huazhi Hu in a statement.

Now that we’ve successfully tested the Ehang 184, I’m really excited to see what the future holds for us in terms of air mobility.”

The key word there is “mobility,” as it often is with these types of ventures. Ehang wants to put its egg-shaped, multirotor aircraft in use as an air taxi, shuttling passengers across dense urban environments.

The company has said it would demonstrate this service for Dubai’s World Government Summit later this month, but a spokesperson didn’t respond whether that was still the case.

Dubai is also working with Germany’s Volocopter on a similar air taxi service. If that doesn’t work, Ehang has permission from the state of Nevada to test the Ehang 184 at its FAA-approved UAV test site.

Ehang says the 184, which is all electric, can carry a single passenger up to 10 miles or roughly 23 minutes of flight. The person in the cockpit doesn’t do any piloting; they just input their destination and enjoy the ride.

The company claims its aircraft is able to take off autonomously, fly a route, sense obstacles, and land.

And if anything goes wrong, a human pilot is supposed to step in and take over the controls from a remote command station.

Ehang sees luxury rides for rich folks as the first phase of this new market, with autonomous aircraft becoming more widely available at lower prices after fleets and flight paths have become well established, and, of course, once the cost of having a human pilot around is eliminated.

Despite its early successful test flights, Ehang says it is making improvements to the aircraft.

More emphasis will be placed on improving passenger experience and on adding an option for manual control, giving passengers with piloting experience the choice to operate the vehicle manually.

In addition, the company has already developed and tested a two-seater with a payload of up to 617 pounds (280 kilograms).

Ehang has proven that its autonomous aerial vehicle can fly, which is no small feat.

But proving that it can scale up into a full-blown aerial taxi service is an entirely different challenge and something with which a number of giant, multibillion-dollar companies are currently wrestling.

There’s a vertical take-off and landing gold rush going on right now, and Ehang clearly wants to prove itself a major player.

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Chinese Police Using Facial Recognition Glasses To Identify Suspects

Chinese police are using dark sunglasses equipped with facial recognition technology to spot criminal suspects.

The glasses, which are being worn by police at a busy train station ahead of the Chinese New Year travel rush, are linked to a central database which contains details of criminal records.

Wearing the technology, police can almost instantly view an individual’s personal details, including name, ethnicity, gender and address.

Police at the Zhengzhou East Railway Station have arrested seven people who were suspected of being involved in kidnapping and hit-and-run cases during an operation which began last week, media reported.




They have also held another 26 people who were using fake identification cards.

Pictures of the operation, which were published online by the web version of China’s People’s Daily newspaper, show a female police officer wearing dark black sunglasses which have a small camera attached on the right-hand lens.

The camera is connected by an electronic lead to a hand-held device.

The device has an app where police officers can process images they have taken of suspicious individuals.

The facial information captured by the glasses will be sent back to a database for comparison with the information of suspects on the wanted list,” Zhang Xiaolei, a local police official told the Global Times newspaper.

The app allows access to the database that also provides information on whether the suspect is on the run from police, and even their recent Internet history.

The scene would not look out of place in an episode of science fiction television drama Black Mirror, which often depicts dark scenarios of humans being overcome by technology.

China is deploying new technologies to monitor people in ways that would unnerve many in the West.

Facial recognition has been rolled out in many aspects of every day life in the country, where there are few concerns over privacy.

The technology is being used to gain entry to university dormitories and workplaces, withdraw cash from ATM machines and even buy a KFC.

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Chinese Scientists Have Successfully Cloned Monkeys

Two monkeys are the first ever primates to be cloned using the technique that created Dolly the sheep.

The technique brings the prospect of cloned human beings even more closer.

But scientists caution that there may be no good reason to create such clones, and that ethical and legal questions need to be answered about such research.

More immediately, the technique will allow researchers to create whole labs full of genetically identical monkeys.




That could prove tremendously useful in scientific and medical research – allowing doctors to watch how specific treatments affect the genetic makeup of animals that are otherwise exactly the same, for instance.

The two identical long-tailed macaques – named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua – were born eight and six weeks ago at a laboratory in China. They represent the furthest reaches of cloning technology, genetically resembling each other entirely.

They aren’t, strictly, the first primates to have been cloned. But they are the first to be produced using the single cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) technique, which involves transferring cell nucleus DNA to a donated egg cell that is then prompted to develop into an embryo, and is the same process used for Dolly the sheep.

Previous work has relied on splitting embryos, which is the same phenomenon that happens when twins are born and can only produce four offspring.

The two monkeys were part of a total of 79 different transfer attempts, which used different techniques. Scientists had some luck cloning monkeys using adult cells, but those were only able to survive for a few days.

That genetic symmetry of the monkeys means that scientists could create a whole experiment’s worth of identical monkeys, save for the specific genetic changes that they want to study.

But the research has already led to fears about where it could lead.

The scientists stress they did the work under strict international codes, and co-author Muming Poo said the team was aware “that future research using non-human primates anywhere in the world depends on scientists following very strict ethical standards”.

The breakthrough means that it would theoretically be easier to clone a human, since primates share so much of their makeup with us.

But actually doing so is much less likely, given the ethical and regulatory objections there would be to any such plan.

Scientists will keep watch on Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, who for now appear to be growing and developing like normal monkeys. They expect more clones to be born in the coming months.

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Over 200 Pterosaur Eggs And Embryos Has Been Found At A Site In China

An ancient site containing more than 200 fossilised eggs belonging to ancient flying reptiles known as pterosaurs has been found.

The eggs belong to a species called Hamipterus tianshanensis, which soared over what is now north west China about 120 million years ago.

The palaeontologists who made the discovery note both the “extraordinary quantity of eggs”, and the fact some of them contain “the first pterosaur three-dimensional embryos”.

This level of preservation allows researchers to learn more about the behaviour of these prehistoric creatures.

Previous evidence of pterosaur reproduction has been rather lacking, limited to a handful of eggs from Argentina and China identified in 2004.

Prior to this, there was no evidence at all these reptiles laid eggs.

But the new discovery, which consists not only of eggs but the bones of adults as well, paints a vivid picture of a nesting colony.




The findings were published in a paper led by Dr Xiaolin Wang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the journal Science.

Dr Wang and his collaborators outline how they used CT scans to look inside the eggs, 16 of which contained embryos that were somewhat intact.

From these embryos, the scientists could see that the structures supporting the pectoral muscles – crucial for flight – were noticeably underdeveloped.

This allowed the scientists to infer that when these animals hatched, they were unable to fly. The newly hatched pterosaurs would therefore have required care and attention from their parents if they were to survive.

The fossils also reveal more secrets about pterosaur lifestyles.

“The find reinforces the view that pterosaur eggs were soft-shelled and needed to be buried,” said Dr Charles Deeming, a biologist at the University of Lincoln who was not involved in the study.

This draws comparison with modern day lizard eggs, and suggests that while the pterosaurs may have cared for their offspring, they didn’t incubate them like birds. Instead, they relied on the earth to keep their eggs warm.

The rarity of such a fossilisation event makes this discovery, and the knowledge gained from it, all the more precious.

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The Origins Of Our Species Might Need A Rethink

On the outskirts of Beijing, a small limestone mountain named Dragon Bone Hill rises above the surrounding sprawl.

Along the northern side, a path leads up to some fenced-off caves that draw 150,000 visitors each year, from schoolchildren to grey-haired pensioners.

It was here, in 1929, that researchers discovered a nearly complete ancient skull that they determined was roughly half a million years old.

Dubbed Peking Man, it was among the earliest human remains ever uncovered, and it helped to convince many researchers that humanity first evolved in Asia.

Since then, the central importance of Peking Man has faded. Although modern dating methods put the fossil even earlier at up to 780,000 years old the specimen has been eclipsed by discoveries in Africa that have yielded much older remains of ancient human relatives.




Such finds have cemented Africa’s status as the cradle of humanity the place from which modern humans and their predecessors spread around the globe and relegated Asia to a kind of evolutionary cul-de-sac.

But the tale of Peking Man has haunted generations of Chinese researchers, who have struggled to understand its relationship to modern humans.

It’s a story without an ending,” says Wu Xinzhi, a palaeontologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) in Beijing.

They wonder whether the descendants of Peking Man and fellow members of the species Homo erectus died out or evolved into a more modern species, and whether they contributed to the gene pool of China today.

Keen to get to the bottom of its people’s ancestry, China has in the past decade stepped up its efforts to uncover evidence of early humans across the country.

It is reanalysing old fossil finds and pouring tens of millions of dollars a year into excavations. And the government is setting up a US$1.1-million laboratory at the IVPP to extract and sequence ancient DNA.

In its typical form, the story of Homo sapiens starts in Africa. The exact details vary from one telling to another, but the key characters and events generally remain the same. And the title is always ‘Out of Africa’.

In this standard view of human evolution, H. erectus first evolved there more than 2 million years ago.

Then, some time before 600,000 years ago, it gave rise to a new species: Homo heidelbergensis, the oldest remains of which have been found in Ethiopia.

About 400,000 years ago, some members of H. heidelbergensis left Africa and split into two branches: one ventured into the Middle East and Europe, where it evolved into Neanderthals; the other went east, where members became Denisovans a group first discovered in Siberia in 2010.

The remaining population of H. heidelbergensis in Africa eventually evolved into our own species, H. sapiens, about 200,000 years ago.

Then these early humans expanded their range to Eurasia 60,000 years ago, where they replaced local hominins with a minuscule amount of interbreeding.

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A Smart City In China Uses AI To Track Every Movement Of Citizens

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Limited is aiding the Chinese police state in catching people who break the law, tracking criminals in real time in their new “smart city” of Hangzhou, home to 9 million people.

They are using video feeds and artificial intelligence, tracking things as petty as illegal parking in real time, putting the city under total surveillance.

Using hundreds of thousands of cameras located across the city and artificial intelligence, they were able to do a lot: for the people who control the city, not the residents.

However, the police state implications are the last thing to be mentioned by mainstream science articles covering the issue.

They are falling for it: because if you disregard the immorality of the Chinese government and its laws, and the danger of total surveillance, traffic congestion is allegedly down and other aspects of city life are allegedly more efficient now.




But does efficiency equal happiness for the people, or more profit for those who control the people?

“The stated goal was to improve life in Hangzhou by letting artificial intelligence process this data and use it to control aspects of urban life.”

“It seems to have worked. The trial has been so successful that the company is now packaging the system for export to other places in China – and eventually the rest of the world.

“Using AI to optimise Hangzhou has had many positive effects. Traffic congestion is down, road accidents are automatically detected and responded to faster, and illegal parking is tracked in real time.”

“If someone breaks the law, they too can be tracked throughout the city before being picked up by the police.”

If everything in your city was this tightly controlled, how would you be happy? How could anybody be happy in a “smart city?”

Efficiency does not equal happiness. Life is not improved by efficiency, or even money necessarily. Human happiness cannot possibly be acquired at the expense of everything that a “smart city” would destroy.

Invasive laws in many countries are tolerable now, because they are broken without consequence. If you smoked cannabis illegally, and you would be immediately caught if you tried to smoke for example, would you be happy?

The founder of the company creating this “city brain project” is certainly not subject to the same surveillance that the residents of Hangzhou are.

He’s living it up, a billionaire who is trying to become a movie star. Recently headlines about Alibaba founder Jack Ma read “Billionaire Alibaba founder Jack Ma is going to be a movie star next. Literally.”

An executive from this corporation had the audacity to speak of privacy as if it was some trivial, silly thing that only paranoid people need.

“In China, people have less concern with privacy, which allows us to move faster,” said Xian-Sheng Hua, manager of artificial intelligence at Alibaba, speaking at World Summit AI recently.

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China Plans To Launch Space Exploration Rockets From Sea Freighters And Planes

China is planning to use large sea-going freighters and heavy military transport planes to launch space exploration rockets starting next year.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC) will reportedly use 10,000-ton freighters as launch pads for its Long March 11 launch rocket. The Long March 11 can carry up to 1,100 pounds into low-earth orbit.

“Eastern Arsenal” bloggers Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer say the idea is use freighters to fire the rockets near the equator to save on fuel and loft bigger payloads.

The other option is for an airborne launch.




The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology announced this month that they’re developing a solid-fueled space launch rocket to be dropped from the Y-20, a heavy Chinese military transport plane.

The rocket itself is expected to weigh about 60 tons (the Y-20’s payload is 66 tons) and has a low Earth orbit payload of 220 pounds.

If you’re dropping a rocket from an airplane, as opposed to the launching from ground, the rocket’s first stage can be smaller, which means it’ll be more efficient and could handle a larger payload.

That means greater flexibility and a potentially quicker launch — both considerable military advantages.

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Giant Panda Is One Step Further Away From Extinction

The giant panda, commonly a symbol for conservation, is no longer considered an endangered species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

In an update to their Red List of Threatened Species on Sunday, which assesses a species’ conservation status, the IUCN reported the giant panda population has improved enough for the endangered species label to be downgraded to “vulnerable.”

A nationwide census in 2014 found 1,864 giant pandas in the wild in China, excluding cubs — an increase from 1,596 in 2004, according to the IUCN.




Including cubs, the current population count is approaching 2,060, the organization said. The report credits forest protection and reforestation measures in China for increasing the available habitat for the species.

The decision to downlist the giant panda to ‘vulnerable’ is a positive sign confirming that the Chinese government’s efforts to conserve this species are effective,” the IUCN noted in its assessment.

The giant panda was once widespread throughout southern China, and is revered in the country’s culture.

The IUCN’s first assessment of the species in 1965 listed the giant panda as “very rare but believed to be stable or increasing.

The species has been the focus of an intensive, high-profile conservation campaign to recover an endangered species since the 1970s, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) — which has used the panda in its logo since 1961.

For over fifty years, the giant panda has been the globe’s most beloved conservation icon as well as the symbol of WWF,” Marco Lambertini, director general of the WWF, said.

Knowing that the panda is now a step further from extinction is an exciting moment for everyone committed to conserving the world’s wildlife and their habitats.

Decades of conservation efforts have included the banning of giant panda poaching — their hides were considered a commodity — as well as the creation of the panda reserve system, increasing available habitats.

There are now 67 reserves in China protecting nearly 5,400 square miles (14,000 square kilometers) of habitat and 67 percent of the panda population, reported CNN.

The recovery of the panda shows that when science, political will and engagement of local communities come together, we can save wildlife and also improve biodiversity,” Lambertini said in the statement.

The Chinese government’s partnerships with the international organization have also spread conservation and breeding efforts. In June, a healthy male cub was born in a Belgian zoo.

The captive population is not taken into consideration by IUCN for the Red List, which is specific to species in the wild.

However, the captive population being bred for recovery and reintroduction are part of the overall conservation picture, according to Joe Walston, Vice President of Conservation Field Programs for the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The giant panda is not completely in the clear, however the IUCN warned that climate change and decreasing bamboo availability could reverse the gains made in the past few decades.

More than one-third of the panda’s bamboo habitat could disappear in the next 80 years, according to the IUCN.

It is a real concern, and this is emblematic of what species are facing globally with regard to climate change,” Walston told Live Science of the threat to habitat and food supply.

The most important thing we can do at the moment is to be able to grow the extent and range of that habitat and by doing that you allow pandas to move across landscapes.

Wildlife as a whole can adapt to short-term changes and season extremes, Walston said, but they need to space to move and adapt.

As such, conservation efforts continue and the giant panda will continue to be considered “a conservation-dependent species for the foreseeable future,” the IUCN’s report concluded.

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The Great Recycling Conspiracy

recycling

As the importance of recycling becomes more apparent, questions about it linger. Is it worth the effort? How does it work? Is recycling waste just going into a landfill in China?

Since 1960 the amount of municipal waste being collected in America has nearly tripled, reaching 245m tonnes in 2005. According to European Union statistics, the amount of municipal waste produced in western Europe increased by 23% between 1995 and 2003, to reach 577kg per person.

As the volume of waste has increased, so have recycling efforts. In 1980 America recycled only 9.6% of its municipal rubbish; today the rate stands at 32%.




A similar trend can be seen in Europe, where some countries, such as Austria and the Netherlands, now recycle 60% or more of their municipal waste. Britain’s recycling rate, at 27%, is low, but it is improving fast, having nearly doubled in the past three years.

Studies that look at the entire life cycle of a particular material can shed light on this question in a particular case, but WRAP decided to take a broader look.

It asked the Technical University of Denmark and the Danish Topic Centre on Waste to conduct a review of 55 life-cycle analyses, all of which were selected because of their rigorous methodology.

recycle

The researchers then looked at more than 200 scenarios, comparing the impact of recycling with that of burying or burning particular types of waste material. They found that in 83% of all scenarios that included recycling, it was indeed better for the environment.

Recycling has many other benefits, too. It conserves natural resources. It also reduces the amount of waste that is buried or burnt, hardly ideal ways to get rid of the stuff.

But perhaps the most valuable benefit of recycling is the saving in energy and the reduction in greenhouse gases and pollution that result when scrap materials are substituted for virgin feedstock.

“If you can use recycled materials, you don’t have to mine ores, cut trees and drill for oil as much,” says Jeffrey Morris of Sound Resource Management, a consulting firm based in Olympia, Washington.

recycling

Extracting metals from ore, in particular, is extremely energy-intensive. Recycling aluminium, for example, can reduce energy consumption by as much as 95%.

Savings for other materials are lower but still substantial: about 70% for plastics, 60% for steel, 40% for paper and 30% for glass. Recycling also reduces emissions of pollutants that can cause smog, acid rain and the contamination of waterways.

Originally kerbside programmes asked people to put paper, glass and cans into separate bins. But now the trend is toward co-mingled or “single stream” collection.

About 700 of America’s 10,000 kerbside programmes now use this approach, says Kate Krebs, executive director of America’s National Recycling Coalition.

recycling

But the switch can make people suspicious: if there is no longer any need to separate different materials, people may conclude that the waste is simply being buried or burned.

In fact, the switch towards single-stream collection is being driven by new technologies that can identify and sort the various materials with little or no human intervention. Single-stream collection makes it more convenient for householders to recycle, and means that more materials are diverted from the waste stream.

San Francisco, which changed from multi to single-stream collection a few years ago, now boasts a recycling rate of 69%—one of the highest in America. With the exception of garden and food waste, all the city’s kerbside recyclables are sorted in a 200,000-square-foot facility that combines machines with the manpower of 155 employees.

recycling

The process begins when a truck arrives and dumps its load of recyclables at one end of the building. The materials are then piled on to large conveyer belts that transport them to a manual sorting station.

There, workers sift through everything, taking out plastic bags, large pieces of cardboard and other items that could damage or obstruct the sorting machines.

Plastic bags are especially troublesome as they tend to get caught in the spinning-disk screens that send weightier materials, such as bottles and cans, down in one direction and the paper up in another.

Next, a magnet pulls out any ferrous metals, typically tin-plated or steel cans, while the non-ferrous metals, mostly aluminium cans, are ejected by eddy current.

recycling

As the aluminium cans are carried over this drum by a conveyer belt, the magnetic field from the rotor induces circulating electric currents, called eddy currents, within them.

This creates a secondary magnetic field around the cans that is repelled by the magnetic field of the rotor, literally ejecting the aluminium cans from the other waste materials.

Finally, the glass is separated by hand into clear, brown, amber and green glass. For each load, the entire sorting process from start to finish takes about an hour, says Bob Besso, Norcal’s recycling-programme manager for San Francisco.

The practice of shipping recyclables to China is controversial. Especially in Britain, politicians have voiced the concern that some of those exports may end up in landfills.

recycling

Many experts disagree. According to Pieter van Beukering, an economist who has studied the trade of waste paper to India and waste plastics to China: “as soon as somebody is paying for the material, you bet it will be recycled.”

In fact, Dr van Beukering argues that by importing waste materials, recycling firms in developing countries are able to build larger factories and achieve economies of scale, recycling materials more efficiently and at lower environmental cost.

He has witnessed as much in India, he says, where dozens of inefficient, polluting paper mills near Mumbai were transformed into a smaller number of far more productive and environmentally friendly factories within a few years.

The Chinese government has banned such practices, but migrant workers have spawned a mobile cottage industry that is difficult to wipe out, says Aya Yoshida, a researcher at Japan’s National Institute for Environmental Studies who has studied Chinese waste imports and recycling practices.

recycling

Because this type of industry operates largely under the radar, it is difficult to assess its overall impact. But it is clear that processing plastic and electronic waste in a crude manner releases toxic chemicals, harming people and the environment—the opposite of what recycling is supposed to achieve.

Far less controversial is the recycling of glass—except, that is, in places where there is no market for it. Britain, for example, is struggling with a mountain of green glass.

It is the largest importer of wine in the world, bringing in more than 1 billion litres every year, much of it in green glass bottles. But with only a tiny wine industry of its own, there is little demand for the resulting glass.

Instead what is needed is clear glass, which is turned into bottles for spirits, and often exported to other countries. As a result, says Andy Dawe, WRAP‘s glass-technology manager, Britain is in the “peculiar situation” of having more green glass than it has production capacity for.

recycling

Britain’s bottle-makers already use as much recycled green glass as they can in their furnaces to produce new bottles. So some of the surplus glass is down-cycled into construction aggregates or sand for filtration systems. But WRAP‘s own analysis reveals that the energy savings for both appear to be “marginal or even disadvantageous”.

Working with industry, WRAP has started a new programme called GlassRite Wine, in an effort to right the imbalance. Instead of being bottled at source, some wine is now imported in 24,000-litre containers and then bottled in Britain.

This may dismay some wine connoisseurs, but it solves two problems, says Mr Dawe: it reduces the amount of green glass that is imported and puts what is imported to good use. It can also cut shipping costs by up to 40%.

If done right, there is no doubt that recycling saves energy and raw materials, and reduces pollution. But as well as trying to recycle more, it is also important to try to recycle better. As technologies and materials evolve, there is room for improvement and cause for optimism. In the end, says Ms Krebs, “waste is really a design flaw.”

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