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We travel to meet the people behind fascinating environmental, health and technological innovations in a bid for sustainable solutions to our changing world. Saturday at 6.10 pm.

DOWN TO EARTH

DOWN TO EARTH

Latest update : 2013-09-24

Sweden: Mining for urban treasure

In industrial cities, thousands of cables and pipes are left abandoned under our feet. It's a valuable source of metal that could be given a second chance. Join the team in downtown Sweden as we explore whether our cities are the mines of the future.

This week we're in Sweden, on a hunt for urban treasure. Beneath many of its downtown streets lies a bounty of abandoned metal trapped in forgotten cables and pipes.

We meet the Swedish prospectors who believe cities will be the mines of the future. Researchers from Linköping University have shown the amount of copper under the pavements is equal to that found in the country's traditional mines.

Today it's too expensive to dig up this network of underground infrastructure, which includes copper as well as iron and aluminium, but efforts are underway to change the economics of urban mining.

Austrian-based company Kabel-X has developed technology that can extract up to 400 metres of copper in one piece. As Sweden's telecommunications provider makes the switch to fibre optic cables, it could be the perfect opportunity to tap into this reservoir of metal and give it a second life.

By Mairead DUNDAS , Marina BERTSCH , Juliette LACHARNAY , Emilie COCHAUD

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Archives

2016-06-10 drones

Drones to the rescue: How pilotless aircraft are saving lives

Historically known for taking lives, drones are now emerging as one of the most promising tools for health and emergency services.

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2016-05-27 Sustainable development

Plastic planet: Using today's resources tomorrow

This week Down to Earth explores the alarming rate in which plastic has plastered the planet. Since it was invented a century ago the petroleum-based material has invaded all...

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2016-05-13 Senegal

Senegal: Lighting the way for off-grid communities

In this new episode of "Down to Earth", we head to Senegal, where only three out of five households have access to electricity

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2016-05-02 fashion

Fast fashion: Wearing the world out

Unlike other industries, the price of clothing has gone down over the last few decades, but at what cost?

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2016-04-15 agriculture

Feeding the city: An urban food challenge

The world’s population is set to rise to 10 billion by 2050 and the large majority will live in cities. It means fewer resources to be shared among many. So how will we feed...

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