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What is swarm robotics and new methods of plastic recycling

“Ecosystem hacking” is the working name of the research work being carried out in the field of swarm robotics. Researchers at the University of Graz want to use technology to regulate the behaviour of honey bees to help them in the face of habitat loss and the threat of pesticides. As part of the EU-funded Hiveopolis project, experts are building hives made of fungi grown on coffee grounds and 3D printed clay. The hives are equipped with sensors and cameras, as well as devices that can create vibrations inside and regulate temperature and airflow.

Engineers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado have developed a two-step process that uses chemistry and biology to break down the mix of the most common plastics going into recycling plants: high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polystyrene (including polystyrene) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). In the Americans’ method, heat and bacteria convert mixed plastics into useful chemicals in the form of small molecules.

The Keep Britain Tidy programme is the first in the UK to recycle old trawl nets that previously went directly into the sea. Recycling nets is not an easy process , because they are made of different materials. Now sorted, they are sent to a facility in the Cotswolds and are no longer a threat to seals and birds, which easily become entangled in them. In Libya, meanwhile, The Sea and the Sun Campaign has been running for 13 years, with volunteers cleaning up beaches after the summer season, removing tons of plastic rubbish.

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