In a village 60 miles east of Brussels, a Belgian company is fighting to launch an experiment with the future of rubbish disposal. Group Machiels, a waste management company, wants to excavate millions of tons of decades-old waste buried in one of Europe’s largest landfills and turn it into renewable energy and building materials.
In the early 1950s, Shenzhen in south-eastern China was a fishing village with only a few thousand inhabitants. Last year, its residents numbered around 11 million. While this may be a particularly extreme example of urban growth, the UN predicts that by 2030, two-thirds of the global population will live in cities. In many urban centers there is already a shortage of space and expanding outwards isn’t always an option.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts a loss of five million jobs by 2020 due to automation and digitalization. At the same time, experts agree that the need for highly skilled workers who can use new technologies will grow.
Hidden beneath the asphalt, miles of tubes snake through our cities. You can’t see it, but this infrastructure plays a huge role in how municipalities handle everything from wastewater to the H2O that streams from your tap. Despite its importance, much of the United States’ water infrastructure is outdated. Consider this: More than 750 cities in the United States still rely on combined sewers, a water management system that uses the same pipes to handle storm water, sewage, and industrial wastewater. During times of high flow (rain storms, for instance), water can exceed the tubes’ capacity and discharge into rivers, streams, or the ocean, creating some serious implications for water quality and human health.