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Help, drowning in waste! – Robots to the rescue

1 Oct 2013

Inefficient solid waste disposal is a huge global problem that has substantial deteriorating effect on our quality of life. The nasty consequences include emissions, hazardous effect on human health, environment pollution, health problems and land depletion.

As problems are piling up together with mountains of waste there has been significant development in the recycling culture globally. Natural raw materials are in many cases scarce and saving of non-renewable resources by recovering materials, energy and electricity from waste is vitally important. Finland has been among the frontrunners in development of recycling and now this nation of engineers is innovating the next generation of technologies to the battle against waste problem that is threatening the life in our planet.
According to a report made at the University of Oulu, statistically the amount of waste in Finland is growing rapidly; and most of it is derived from construction, mining and quarrying sector. Nevertheless there have been significant improvements in the infrastructure of waste management and the recovery of waste in Finland in the last decade.[1]

Among Finnish companies involved in recycling technologies a vivid example is the world leader in robotic recycling systems, ZenRobotics Ltd – a growing Finnish cutting-edge recycling technology company. The company’s main product and major breakthrough is ZenRobotics Recycler – world’s first revolutionary robotic waste sorting system, deriving precious raw materials from construction and demolition waste, controlled by artificial intelligence.

Another prime example of a Finnish chemical startup company that has offered an excellent solution for waste recovery is CrisolteQ. The company has developed a process of recovering precious materials from industrial waste. Kenneth Ekman, the CEO of the company and a successful entrepreneur was granted the award of the CTO of the Year 2013 by Spinverse, Technology Academy Finland, the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK and Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, in January 2013. That marked the first time the award was won by a SME entrepreneur. This prestigious award is given in recognition of the work of a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) who has made a significant contribution to the technical performance and growth potential of their company.

This autumn the theme of the CTO Forum, also organised by Spinverse, Technology Academy Finland and Sitra, is related to Industrial Symbiosis. That is another major step in intelligent waste management focusing on material and energy exchange with the aim of developing industrial ecology where everything would get recycled. Please see more about the CTO Forum following this link.

[1] Piippo S. (2012). Best Practices in Municipal Solid Waste Management in Finland. Greensettle Report for WP2: Urban and rural resource management, 10-11. Retrieved from http://nortech.oulu.fi/GREENSETTLE_files/Best%20practices%20in%20municipal%20solid%20waste%20management%20in%20Finland.pdf

Photo credit: Alex Knight

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Eira Seppälä

Director, ICT & electronics, D.Sc. (Tech.) +358 50 486 0498

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