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Tech savvy: toys

Toy retailers are working together to build a database of bad-apple factories.

Mortally dangerous conditions remain a grim reality for workers at factories around the world.

In September last year, some 300 workers died in a garment factory fire in Pakistan, many because they were trapped behind locked emergency exits. Six months later, another 1,100 seamstresses were crushed to death when an eight-storey building collapsed in Bangladesh, despite warnings it was unsafe.

As the multi-trillion-dollar textile industry struggled to respond to these tragedies, the much smaller global toy industry was able to call on a resource no other consumer product industry can match.

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Tech Savvy: CarbonCure

Injecting C02 into concrete as it hardens is helping slash its towering toll on the climate.

Concrete is a conundrum. It’s the world’s most heavily consumed manmade material, with nearly three tonnes used per person, every year. Yet for the climate, baking limestone into cement does more harm than practically any other industrial process.

To help cut cement’s supersized carbon footprint, Halifax, Nova Scotia-based startup CarbonCure Technologies is tinkering with the age-old recipe for how cement cures into concrete, its final rock-like form. The company’s answer: carbonated cement.

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Tech Savvy: Axion Intl.

Axion International is recycling mountains of plastic for smoother commutes, sturdier bridges and a cleaner environment.

Every day, thousands of commuters on Miami’s rapid transit system are whisked to work cushioned by a bed of empty milk jugs, discarded laundry detergent jugs and other household castoffs.

The plastic in question isn’t the familiar debris that accumulates in rail tracks, along roadways and on the sidewalk. Rather, the trains’ journeys are smoothed by super-rugged railroad ties made up of veritable mountains of plastic waste recycled from consumers’ trash.

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Tech Savvy: Ford

From green roofs to dry machining, the U.S. auto giant is driving down water use and saving money.

In the race to go green, it’s fair to say that Ford has looked high and low – literally – to help its automotive plants cut their impact on the environment.

One of Ford’s highest profile eco-efforts can best be seen by looking down on the roof of its River Rouge factory in Dearborn, Michigan. Originally constructed starting in 1917 by Henry Ford, the complex debuted as an industrial pioneer, among the first fully-integrated industrial complexes, where steel mills, glass works and chemical plants were built side by side to speed the flow of raw materials into Ford’s burgeoning Model T plants.

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Tech Savvy: UPS

Package delivery giant United Postal Service gives its fleet the hybrid treatment, minus the expensive batteries.

To help its iconic brown delivery vans go much further on a gallon of fuel, United Parcel Service is rolling out a new type of hybrid vehicle that’s propelled by hydraulic pressure instead of electric batteries.

The technology is a relative of the hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) pioneered by Toyota’s Prius, which achieves enviable mileage by recapturing much of the energy lost during braking. Instead of saving that braking energy in batteries, UPS’s new hydraulic hybrid vehicle (HHV) delivers a 35 per cent boost to mileage by storing hydraulic fluids in super strong tanks.

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