Switzerland, the land of mountains, Toblerone, and semi-automatic weapons, is showing the rest of the world exactly how to become an Industry 4.0 Nation

There are many ways in which countries can look toward the future right now.

The Dutch are helping Bangladesh modernize water infrastructure, Milk Mantra wants to augment rural India’s milk supply chain, and researchers want to use rejected man-made diamonds to improve MRI technology.

An Industry 4.0 mindset involves more than just leveraging technology to improve things. It also involves making things as efficient and sustainable as possible.

For a great example, we can look to the country of Switzerland.

Investing in Infrastructure Now for a Better Future

As President Dwight D. Eisenhower proved when he invested in America’s revolutionary highway system, Switzerland shows that investing in more sustainable infrastructure now can help “future-proof” cities.

The Villiger disposal system works by installing stations underground. These stations pop up for waste retrieval or waste storage.

The tinier waste receptacles hide giant containers below the ground’s surface. Trash collectors can easily access these containers with a few button presses. This not only reduces the smell, but increases city cleanliness and appearance, too.

Of course, this requires cities to invest in the appropriate infrastructure to support the new system. Given differing budgets, needs, and geography, the Villiger system has its limits.

Due to weather, the Villiger disposal system may not be viable in certain areas. Places prone to flooding, earthquakes, or other issues that affect the ground may have to find alternative solutions.

Despite this, this new disposal system works in tandem with other things to boost Switzerland’s status as an Industry 4.0 nation.

image of a water treatment plant for article Weekend Reads: How Switzerland Acts Like an Industry 4.0 Place
What could America find by looking into its own wastewaters?

Long-Term Gains Found in Wastewater

Panning for gold used to be a viable career choice in the Wild West days of the U.S, But the Swiss put a modern twist on this with their wastewater recently.

You see, around the Swiss flush around $1.8-million USD in metals every single year.

Researchers discovered this by testing the wastewater from sewage treatment plants. They found around 95 pounds of gold, significant amounts of silver, and rare-earth metals palladium and platinum.

In 10 years, Switzerland could amass 950 pounds in gold alone which, in current gold values, would be well over $15-million USD.

This isn’t a huge amount of money, but the raw materials go a long way in creating more circular and sustainable economies.

Given that China leads the world in rare-earth recycling, salvaging your own country’s materials for re-use will transform from a prudent idea into a vital necessity by 2050.

But Switzerland serves as a roadmap for an Industry 4.0 nation in one last key way.

image of a Climeworks carbon capture plant for article Weekend Reads: How Switzerland Acts Like an Industry 4.0 Place
Climeworks carbon capture plant | Climeworks via Climate Central

Early Adoption of Commercial Carbon Capture Plants

Greenhouse emissions involve more than just carbon, but mitigating carbon emissions serve as a crucial step in protecting our future.

Though many car manufacturers want to go all electric within 5 – 10 years, diminishing current carbon emissions will still take time. That’s why companies like Climeworks established commercial carbon capture plants.

The plant works by employing sponge-like filters to absorb carbon dioxide. Then, the carbon dioxide gets heated and released as pure CO2. It can then be recycled for other uses or simply stored underground.

As noted in our previous coverage of this topic, it would take many more of these plants to make a true difference. But this is just one more way Switzerland proves that it wants to set the tone with its Industry 4.0 mindset.

What other countries stand out as heralds of circular economies of the future?

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