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Waste management is an important issue faced by many countries and cities around the world. As populations grow and consumption increases, the amount of waste generated also rises significantly. Traditional waste treatment and disposal methods can cause environmental pollution and waste of resources. Therefore, researchers and companies are working on developing innovative technologies that offer more sustainable solutions. Some of the most promising new waste treatment and disposal technologies include:

Plasma gasification- Plasma gasification is an emerging thermal waste treatment technology that uses plasma torch powered by electricity to gasify solid waste at extremely high temperatures reaching over 2000°C. At such high temperatures, molecular bonds in waste break down and syngas is produced. This syngas can then be used to generate electricity. Plasma gasification efficiently converts over 95% of waste into syngas with minimal emissions and residues. It is a versatile technology that can handle almost any type of municipal solid waste or hazardous waste. Several companies are building and testing large-scale plasma gasification plants.

Biofuel from waste- Another technology aimed at resource recovery from waste is the production of biofuels like renewable natural gas or renewable diesel. Anaerobic digestion and thermal conversion processes are used to break down organic waste into biogas which can then be upgraded into transportation fuels. Companies like Agilyx, Fulcrum BioEnergy, and SC Johnson are pioneering technologies to convert post-recycled municipal solid waste, food waste, agricultural waste etc into drop-in biofuels. Integrating existing waste management infrastructure with biofuel production facilities allows generating renewable energy from waste.

Conversion to hydrogen- Waste-to-hydrogen is an emerging approach focused on producing hydrogen gas through the gasification of municipal solid waste or sewage sludge. The syngas obtained can be further processed to produce hydrogen through techniques like steam methane reforming. Hydrogen produced can be used as a zero-emission fuel in transportation and industrial sectors. Companies like EnviTec Biogas are developing large systems to generate hydrogen alongside electricity through thermal conversion of organic waste streams.

Advanced recycling for plastics- Due to the difficulty and costs involved in traditional mechanical recycling of plastic waste, less than 10% of plastic waste globally gets recycled. New chemical recycling technologies aim to improve this. Companies like Eastman, Vadxx, Synata Bio, and Agilyx are developing advanced recycling processes using techniques like depolymerization, methanolysis and hydrolysis to break plastics down to their basic molecular building blocks which can then be used to produce virgin quality plastic resins and polymers. By allowing recycled content to directly substitute fossil feedstocks in new plastic production, advanced recycling could significantly boost plastic recycling rates.

Digital waste management- Leveraging technologies like IoT sensors, RFID tags, computer vision etc allows implementation of smart waste management solutions. Connected waste bins can detect fill levels and optimize collection routes to improve efficiency. Landfill gas and leachate levels can be digitally monitored. Advanced analytics helps identify waste generation patterns, forecast demand and optimally route trucks. Some cities are piloting digital platforms that allow citizens to book and track waste collection services while generating insights to guide future infrastructure needs. As waste infrastructure shifts towards automation and remote monitoring, digital connectivity opens new frontiers.

Biological technologies- Researchers are also exploring biological and microbiological solutions for sustainable waste management. Methods are being studied to use waste-eating microorganisms like bacteria and fungi to aid in composting and accelerate the natural decomposition of organic materials. Biotechnologies also offer pathways for converting agricultural, forestry and food waste into higher-value bioproducts like bioplastics, solvents, animal feed ingredients, using techniques like fermentation. Advances in synthetic biology and microbial engineering fuels the development of such biological conversion processes.

While these technologies are still under research and development or pilot-stage adoption, they represent promising new directions that can augment today’s waste management infrastructure and allow maximum resource recovery from waste. By diverting organic materials to production of renewable fuels and chemicals, and employing chemical and biological techniques for advanced recycling of plastics, cities of future may significantly reduce the burden on landfills whilst minimizing environmental impact of waste. Integrating digital connectivity can enable optimized operations and planning. Emerging technologies thus provide a pathway for transition towards more sustainable and circular models of waste management.


Capstone Projects Africa (CPA) places the utmost importance on ensuring the safety of students who participate in their international project placements. Extensive safety protocols and risk management procedures are in place to minimize dangers and protect students’ well-being during their time abroad.

Before selecting any project placement locations, CPA conducts thorough security and political risk assessments of the proposed host countries and communities. Up-to-date information is gathered from a wide range of sources including the U.S. State Department, international NGOs, and local credible news media reports. Any areas deemed to pose unacceptable safety or security risks are avoided. Locations selected must meet stringent criteria including a stable political climate, low crime rates, access to emergency services, and a supportive community environment.

Once placement locations are selected, CPA works closely with established local host organizations that have a proven track record of safety management. Rigorous vetting is done on all potential host supervisors and organizations to evaluate their emergency preparedness plans, policies, insurance coverage, incident response procedures and overall student support systems in place. Only hosts that demonstrate robust capacity and commitment to ensuring student safety are selected as partners.

Comprehensive safety briefings and trainings are provided to students both before and after arriving at their placement sites. Students receive in-depth information on potential risks specific to their host country/community as well as strategies for avoiding dangers and responding to emergencies. Topics covered include first aid, road/transportation safety, recognizing and avoiding areas of civil unrest, basic self defense, malaria/disease prevention, and more. Students must demonstrate proficiency in safety protocols before travel is permitted.

Once onsite, host organizations are required to provide 24/7 emergency contacts for students and maintain radio/cellphone communication systems to facilitate rapid response in case of incidents. Housing and work placement accommodations are subject to health, fire and structural safety inspections by CPA. Hosts must ensure students have access to necessary emergency services and plans for dealing with natural disasters, epidemics or other crises that may arise.

To enable effective incident management and crisis response coordination, CPA establishes communication protocols requiring regular safety check-ins from students as well as status updates from hosts. Any incidents involving risks to students are to be promptly reported. In the event of a significant emergency, CPA works closely with host and government officials, private security/evacuation firms when necessary, to coordinate an appropriate response and ensure student protection measures are enacted.

In addition to protocols managed through host partners, CPA directly implements several oversight and support measures. For example, GPS tracking devices and satellite phones are provided to students where infrastructure allows, enabling real-time location monitoring and emergency communication capabilities independent of local systems. A 24/7 emergency hotline is staffed by CPA personnel to handle calls from students or hosts regarding any urgent issues that arise. In such cases, CPA takes appropriate action which may involve direct liaison with international security/consular contacts as needed.

Robust security is also in place during student travel. Ground transportation between project sites is only permitted through pre-approved operators with stringent vehicle inspection and driver screening/training standards. Travel routes, schedules and end destinations are closely monitored. Flights are booked through reputable airlines and travel advisories are closely followed to avoid unstable areas as situations evolve over time.

A mandatory medical and travel insurance policy is provided to all students, protecting against costs of medical evacuation, hospitalization, disability or loss of life. Policy details grant students access to emergency assistance services including security extraction capabilities if deemed prudent by the provider’s global security specialists monitoring the context.

Through methodical planning, stringent partner and site vetting procedures and multilayered ongoing oversight and emergency support mechanisms, Capstone Projects Africa strives to minimize risks so students can carry out their international placements safely and with full peace of mind. Safety is the organization’s number one priority in facilitating these impactful global learning experiences.


Blockchain technology is disrupting and transforming the financial industry in many ways. Some key examples of how blockchain is being applied in finance include:

Cryptocurrency and digital payments – Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin were one of the earliest widespread uses of blockchain technology. Bitcoin created a decentralized digital currency and payment system not controlled by any central bank or authority. Since then, thousands of other cryptocurrencies have emerged. Beyond just cryptocurrencies, blockchain is also enabling new forms of digital payments through applications like Ripple which allows for faster international money transfer between banks.

Cross-border payments and remittances – Sending money across borders traditionally involves high fees, takes days to settle, and relies on intermediaries like wire services. Blockchain startups like Ripple, Stellar, and MoneyGram are developing blockchain-based cross-border payment networks to provide near real-time settlements with lower costs. This application has the potential to greatly improve financial inclusion globally by reducing the high costs of migration workers sending money back home.

Digital asset exchanges – Sites like Coinbase, Gemini, and Binance are digital asset exchanges that allow users to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies and other blockchain-based assets. These crypto exchanges operate globally 24/7 and provide significantly higher liquidity compared to traditional foreign exchange markets since blockchain transactions can be processed and settled in minutes versus days. Some exchanges are also issuing their own blockchain-based stablecoins to facilitate trading.

Tokenization of assets – Blockchain makes it possible to tokenize both digital and real-world assets by issuing cryptographic tokens on a distributed ledger. This allows for fractional ownership of assets like real estate, private equity, fine art, and more. Asset tokenization provides new ways to invest in assets at lower thresholds, improves liquidity, and simplifies transactions of assets that were previously highly illiquid. Security tokens representing assets are beginning to trade on emerging crypto security exchanges.

Smart contracts – A smart contract is a computer program stored on a blockchain that automatically executes when predetermined conditions are met. Smart contracts allow for the automated execution of multi-step workflows like tracking loan terms, processing insurance claims, and more. Many startup insurtech companies are exploring using smart contracts for claims processing, premium payments, and policy management. Smart contract capabilities could streamline back-office processes and reduce costs for financial institutions.

Decentralized finance (DeFi) – DeFi refers to a new category of financial applications that utilize blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to disrupt traditional banking. DeFi applications allow users to lend, borrow, save, and earn interest on crypto-assets without relying on centralized intermediaries. For example, Compound is a decentralized protocol that allows users to lend out Ethereum and earn interest. MakerDAO enables generating Dai, a cryptocurrency stablecoin whose value is pegged to the US dollar. These DeFi protocols allow easier access to financial services globally.

Trade finance and settlement – Complex international trade transactions traditionally involve multiple intermediaries and can take weeks to settle. Pilot projects are exploring how blockchain could streamline trade finance processes by digitizing letters of credit, bills of lading, and other trade documents. Leveraging smart contracts could automate conditional payments and shorten settlement from weeks to days with more transparency. This decentralized trade finance potential could especially help small- and medium-sized enterprises globally.

Supply chain financing – Blockchain provides a shared, immutable record of transactions that can help unlock working capital for suppliers. Projects are piloting blockchain-based supply chain financing platforms to help suppliers get paid earlier by large corporate buyers in exchange for a small fee. With automated tracking of inventory and invoices, suppliers could get closer to immediate payment which helps their cash flow compared to waiting 30, 60, or 90 days for invoices to clear. This reduces risks for buyers as well.

Compliance and know-your-customer (KYC) – Regulatory compliance, particularly for anti-money laundering (AML) and KYC processes, involves high costs for financial institutions to manually review and verify customer identities and transactions. Startups are developing blockchain-based solutions to digitally verify customer IDs and share verified customer profiles across institutions to reduce redundant KYC checks. This could significantly lower compliance costs while strengthening financial crime monitoring through the transparency of blockchain transaction data.

Clearly, blockchain technology is poised to revolutionize many areas of the financial industry through applications across payments, banking, trading, lending, and more. By improving transparency, reducing intermediation, minimizing settlement periods, and automating processes, blockchain promises to make finance more inclusive, efficient and trustworthy on a global scale. While the technology remains new, the pace of innovation and adoption of blockchain within finance continues accelerating.


The regulation of self-driving cars is an evolving area as the technology rapidly advances. Currently there are no fully standardized federal regulations for self-driving cars in the United States, but several federal agencies are involved in developing guidelines and policies. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released voluntary guidance for manufacturers and is working to develop performance standards. They have also outlined a 5-level classification system for autonomous vehicle technology ranging from no automation to full automation.

At the state level, regulation differs across jurisdictions. Some states like California, Arizona, Michigan, and Florida have passed laws specifically related to the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles on public roads. Others are still determining how to address this new industry through legislation and policies. Most states are taking a phased regulatory approach based on NHTSA guidelines and are focused on monitoring how autonomous technology progresses before implementing comprehensive rules. Permit programs are also being established for companies to test self-driving vehicles in certain states.

One of the major challenges that regulators face is how to address liability when autonomous functions cause or are involved in a crash. Currently, it is unclear legally who or what would be responsible – the vehicle manufacturer, software maker, vehicle operator, or some combination. Some proposals seek to place initial liability on manufacturers/developers while the technology is new, while others argue liability should depend on each unique situation and blameworthiness. Regulators have not yet provided definitive answers, which creates uncertainty that could hamper development and adoption.

To address liability and safety concerns, manufacturers are strongly encouraged to implement design and testing processes that prioritize safety. They must show how autonomous systems are fail-safe and will transition control back to a human driver in an emergency. Black box data recorders and other oversight measures are also expected so crashes can be thoroughly investigated. Design standards may eventually specify mandatory driver monitoring, redundant technology backups, cybersecurity protections, and communication capabilities with other vehicles and infrastructure.

Beyond technical standards, policies aim to protect users, pedestrians and other drivers. Issues like who is considered the operator, and what their responsibilities are, need to be determined. Insurance guidelines are still being formed as risks are assessed – premiums may need to vary depending on vehicle automation levels and who is deemed at fault in different situations. Privacy protections for data collected during use must also be implemented.

Gradual approaches are preferred by most experts rather than imposing sweeping regulations too quickly before problems can be identified and addressed. Testing of early technologies under controlled conditions is encouraged before deploying to the wider public. Transparency and open communication between government, researchers and industry will help identify issues and produce the strongest policies. While full consensus on regulation has not emerged, continued discussions are helping outline best practices for this revolutionary transportation innovation to progress responsibly and maximize benefits to safety. State and federal policies aim to ensure appropriate oversight and mitigation of risks as self-driving car technology advances toward commercial availability.

Self-driving vehicle regulation and policies related to liability and safety are still an emerging framework without full standardization between jurisdictions. Through voluntary guidance, permits for testing, legislation in some states, and proposals addressing insurance, data and oversight, authorities are taking initial steps while further adoption unfolds. Future standards may establish clearer responsibilities, fail-safes and oversight, but regulators are still monitoring research and facing evolving technical challenges to produce comprehensive yet flexible solutions. Gradual, safe progress backed by transparency and collaboration form the central principles guiding this complex regulatory process for autonomous vehicles.


The higher education accreditation process in the United States is intended to ensure that colleges and universities meet thresholds of quality, but there have been ongoing discussions about ways the system could be reformed or improved. Some of the major reforms being debated include:

Streamlining the accreditation process. The full accreditation process from initial self-study through site visits and decision making can take several years to complete. Many argue this lengthy process is bureaucratic and wastes resources for both the institutions and accreditors. Reforms focus on simplifying documentation requirements, allowing for more concurrent reviews where possible, and shortening timelines for decision making. Others counter that thorough reviews are necessary to properly assess quality.

Increasing transparency. Accreditation reviews and decisions are generally not made publicly available in detail due to confidentiality policies. Some advocacy groups are pushing for accreditors to be more transparent, such as publishing full site visit reports and decision rationales. Proponents argue this would provide more accountability and information for students and families. Privacy laws and competitive concerns for institutions have limited transparency reforms so far.

Reducing conflicts of interest. Accreditors rely heavily on peer review, but there are often ties between reviewers and the institutions under review through things like membership on academic boards or advisory roles. Reform efforts look to tighten conflict of interest policies, reduce financial ties between reviewers and reviewees, and bring more outside voices into the process. Others note the value of subject matter expertise during reviews.

Incorporating new quality indicators. Accreditors currently focus heavily on inputs like curriculum, faculty qualifications, facilities and finances. But there are calls to give more weight to outputs and outcomes like post-graduation salaries, debt levels, employment rates, and other metrics of student success. Tracking non-academic development is also an area ripe for reform. Determinng causality and addressing confounding variables is challenging with outcomes.

Encouraging innovation. The accreditation system is sometimes criticized for discouraging innovative practices that fall outside existing standards. Reforms explore ways to safely support experimental programs through parallel accreditation pathways, waiving certain standards for a set time period, or establishing regulatory sandboxes. But balancing quality assurance with flexibility remains a difficult issue.

Comparing accreditors. Despite operating in the same market, individual accreditors have different standards, priorities and levels of rigor. Ideas look at conducting reliability studies across accreditors to see how review outcomes compare given equivalent institutions. More transparency around accreditor performance could help alignment and provide information to guide institutional choices. Variation reflects the diversity of US higher ed.

Addressing for-profit impacts. For-profit colleges have faced more oversight and closures tied to questionable practices and student outcomes. Some argue this highlights a need for enhanced consumer protections within the tripartite accreditation-state-federal oversight system, along with stronger linkage between accreditation and Title IV funding. Others caution against an overly prescriptive one-size-fits-all approach at the risk of stifling innovation.

While the general principles and tripartite structure of US accreditation appear durable, improvements to processes aim to balance quality assurance with flexibility, innovation, and transparency. Meaningful reform faces pragmatic challenges around feasibility of implementation, cost, unintended consequences, and the diversity of stakeholders across American higher education. Most experts argue for cautious, evidence-based advancement that preserves core quality functions while creating a more responsive, accountable and student-centric system over the long term. The higher education landscape is constantly evolving, so ongoing assessment and adjustment of this self-regulatory process will likely remain ongoing topics of policy discussion.