Toyota will advertise its hydrogen fuel cell sedan with smog-reducing billboards

Although the dominant type of energy storage in today’s electric cars is lithium-ion batteries, not every car company is going in that direction, as Toyota demonstrates with its continued push for a different technology — hydrogen fuel cells. Once lauded as the future of clean transportation and energy storage in a variety of other applications, hydrogen-based fuel cell systems have a great many barriers to adoption, one of which is lack of hydrogen infrastructure, and the other is the need to develop hydrogen production sources that aren’t fossil fuel-based or that require more energy to produce than can be released in the fuel cell.

But that hasn’t stopped Toyota from moving along with its hydrogen fuel cell Mirai sedan, and one advertising angle being used to boost the brand’s green credibility is a forthcoming billboard campaign in and around Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

A series of 37 “eco-billboards” touting the fact that the Mirai’s “only emission is water” (at least at the proverbial tailpipe, as there are definitely emissions other than water associated with hydrogen fuel cells and any new car) will be installed with Clear Channel Outdoor Americas, and these billboards are said to remove nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the air. NOx, which are produced by combustion, such as in fossil fuel vehicles, is one of the key components of both smog and acid rain, and the billboards are said to “reverse the equivalent of 5,285 vehicles” worth of NOx emissions per month.

Although the billboards are still made from vinyl, as most billboards are, they are coated with a titanium dioxide layer developed by PURETi Group which is said to act like an air purifier or “catalytic converter,” at least of the NOx in the surrounding air.

“When oxygen reacts with the energized titanium dioxide catalyst, NOx is converted to nitrate and removed from the air. The light-activated, smog-reducing billboards continue to purify the air as long as light, humidity, airflow and the titanium dioxide coating are present.” – Toyota

Coca-Cola produces over 100 billion disposable plastic bottles, Greenpeace says

The environment group claims it has uncovered what it calls the company’s ‘eye-popping’ use of throwaway plastic

Coca-Cola is failing to combat the environmental damage caused by it producing over 100 billion throwaway plastic bottles each year, a new analysis by Greenpeace has revealed.

Last March the fizzy drinks company came under fire for refusing to disclose how much plastic it produces in a survey of the top six global drinks manufacturers, conducted by Greenpeace.

However, the environment group now claims it has uncovered what it calls the company’s “eye-popping” use of throwaway plastic.

The charity looked at Coca-Cola’s annual sales figures of certain product lines and the proportion that they have represented in the company’s overall packaging mix since 2012.

Using this method, Greenpeace concluded that Coca-Cola sells in the region of 108 to 128 billion plastic bottles each year.

According to the research, the world’s biggest soft drinks company’s single-use plastic bottles now account for almost 60 per cent of the company’s global packaging – a number that has increased by 12 per cent from 2008 to 2015.

Coca-Cola in 2013 set a target for its recovery and recycling rates in developed countries to rise to 75 per cent by 2020. However Greenpeace’s analysis of Coca-Cola’s available data from 2013 to 2015 revealed that this rate is actually declining. Greenpeace says that the rate fell from 63 per cent in 2013, to 61 per cent in 2014 and 59 per cent in 2015.

“The rate at which Coca-Cola is pumping out single-use plastic bottles is just breath-taking,”said Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK.

“In the absence of full disclosure from Coke, we’ve calculated that it produces over 100 billion throwaway plastic bottles every year – an eye-popping 3,400 a second – while refusing to take responsibility for its role in the plastic pollution crisis facing our oceans. Our oceans simply can’t stomach any more of Coca-Cola’s plastic,” she added.

Some 16 million plastic bottles end up in the environment every single day in the UK, according to Greenpeace.

A spokesperson for Coca-Cola Britain told said they were “disappointed” to read the report from Greenpeace UK.

“Coca-Cola is one of the few consumer goods companies whose packaging is 100 per cent recyclable. In Great Britain, we have reduced the amount of packaging we use by 15 percent since 2007 and we currently use 25 per cent recycled plastic in all of our bottles,” a spokesperson for the company said.

“Globally, we continue to increase the use of recycled plastic (rPET) in countries where it is feasible and permitted. We are also actively involved in conversations with policy makers and other experts about what more can be done to reduce litter and improve recycling and recovery rates and are one of the companies who have agreed to join DEFRA’s litter strategy working group which will focus on addressing this problem,” it added.

In March, and representing a major u-turn for the company, Coca-Cola UK announced that it was supporting the deposit return scheme (DRS) in Scotland. The scheme is designed to encourage consumers to return their drinks bottles by adding a small refundable charge at sale.

Renewables cut Europe’s carbon emissions by 10% in 2015, says EEA

A surge in the use of wind and solar energy helped Europe to cut its fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by about 10% in 2015, an authoritative new report has found.

Energy use from renewables rose to 16.7% of Europe’s total, up from 15% in 2013, and accounted for 77% of the continent’s new power capacity.

But the clean energy burst is still not moving fast enough to prevent a “lock-in” of already-commissioned fossil fuel capacity, which will otherwise transform into stranded assets.

It was also unevenly spread across Europe, with renewables expanding to take up 30% of the power load in many Scandinavian countries, but only 5% in Malta.

The UK had Europe’s seventh best record for the intensity of its greenhouse gas emissions, but was a mid-table performer in terms of emissions per capita, according to figures compiled by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Mihai Tomescu, who authored the EEA study, said Europe’s renewable roll-out was accelerating, but not fast enough to halt global warming at 2C.

“The current level of effort needs to be stepped up and this is not necessarily going to happen without additional focus,” he told the Guardian.

The EEA’s report suggests that the EU is broadly on track to achieve its goals of 20% emissions cuts and 20% renewable energy share by 2020.

But a more challenging target for 2050 – of reducing emissions by at least 80% – will require acceleration after 2030, when tough decisions about phasing out internal combustion engines and oil supplies will have to be taken.

James Watson, the chief executive of SolarPower Europe, which represents Europe’s solar photovoltaic industry, said that today’s figures were in line with a 50GW spike in global solar capacity last year.

“This is a good start and we must be positive about that but if we are truly to meet our obligations under the Paris agreement, we will need to see a much faster growth of renewables and a commensurate, much faster reduction of fossil fuels, and coal power in particular,” he said.

Renewables have replaced 100m tonnes of oil equivalent electricity generation this decade, but will only need to replace 20m tonnes in the 10 years ahead, according to SolarPower Europe’s analysis.

Tomescu noted that Europe’s growth in renewable energy was already coinciding with a drop in fossil fuel consumption. “In broad terms, we are talking about a substitution and this has an impact not only on import dependency but also avoided greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.