Recycled corals reefs and flying Rolls Royce vehicles: the best green innovations of the week

A number of eye-catching and potentially transformational innovations have emerged that could help businesses and nations deliver on resource efficiency, low-carbon transitions and combat climate change. Here, edie rounds-up six of the best.

Solutions to urbanisation, climate change and plastics pollution all feature in this week's round up

Solutions to urbanisation, climate change and plastics pollution all feature in this week's round up

In a week where blistering heatwaves have highlighted how some countries are woefully unprepared for a changing climate, the need for innovative solutions has never been more urgent.

Eyes are firmly on the horizon to see what the future brings in relation to sustainability. With this in mind, this week’s round-up covers a variety of ideas, concepts, products and systems that could help nations and businesses accelerate sustainability commitments.

Plastics: Oh no to Ooho!

Online food ordering firm Just Eat has commenced a trial of compostable sachets made from seaweed, as part of an effort to reduce the amount of plastic used by its UK restaurant partners. The sachets were created in partnership with packaging development company Skipping Rocks Lab, which has just received investment backing from the Sky Ocean Ventures fund.

Forming part of a wider commitment introduced by Just Eat in March 2018 to combat a reliance on single-use plastics, the seaweed-based sauce sachets will be trialled for six weeks with restaurant partner The Fat Pizza in Southend. The sachets can be discarded through home compost or in normal household bins and decompose in six weeks.

With more than 11 billion plastic condiment sachets sold globally, Just Eat will assess the feasibility of introducing the sachets – used by The Fat Pizza for ketchup and garlic and herb dips – across its network of 29,000 UK restaurant partners.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

The electrification of the passenger car has only just begun, but already some of the automotive sector’s biggest players are looking to the skies for the next wave of innovative transport. Take Rolls Royce, for example, which recently announced details of a concept electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) vehicle.

Unveiled at the Farnborough International Airshow, the EVTOL is a move from Rolls Royce to utilise autonomous technologies, electric vehicles, the growth of urban population and an increased desire to move from A to B quickly and efficiently as a reason to turn to flying-based passenger transport.

The flying passenger car, which could take to the skies within the next decade, uses gas turbine technology to generate electricity that powers six electric propulsors with low-noise profiles. Battery storage is also used by the vehicle, which could carry up to five passengers at speeds up to 250mph for approximately 500 miles.

Thinking inside of the box

Innovative packaging solutions are emerging into a market that has been shocked into change following heightened consumer pressures regarding single-use plastics. One of the leaders in this area is grooming brand Bull Dog, which has never used microbeads – now banned in the UK – in its scrubs, instead, using natural and renewable alternatives such as quinoa husk.

From next week, Bull Dog will stock a 5-litre shower gel refill box at the Whole Foods store in Kensington High Street. The giant-sized refill pack reduces plastic packaging waste by 85% as it can deliver the equivalent of 25 bottles of shower gel.

Customers can use and reuse a refillable bottle, which is inside a pack made from FSC-certified recycled cardboard. The firm, a previous green innovations entrant for its sugarcane face wash packaging, recently launched a men’s razor with a bamboo handle in a bid to further reduce its plastic output, following a RecycleBank study which found that two billion plastic razors are sent to landfill each year in the US alone.

The next station is…

Four new customer passageways are being constructed on the London Underground as part of work on the Northern Line Extension, which will expand the network from Kennington to Battersea Power Station.

With air quality and noise pollution already an issue in parts of the capital, power solutions firm, Off Grid Energy, has installed its largest temporary power unit at the Kennington Tube station. The firm’s gridtogo battery storage solution has an output of 195kVa and will offer a temporary and makeshift solution that lowers emissions, reduces noise and offers cost savings by storing spare energy.

Comparable gridtogo systems, based on Off Grid Energy’s website, suggest that over a 12-month period, almost 31,500 litres of fuel could be saved while avoiding 83,340kg of CO2 emissions. As a result, fuel savings could reach upwards of £28,000. It has not been specified what the anticipated savings for this project are.

What is dead may never die

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the most recognisable natural wonders of the world. However, it is also on the verge of death due to ocean acidification and documented cases of coral bleaching over the last few years.

Fortunately, the University of Queensland’s civil engineering and biological sciences department may have found a solution through its partnership with technology specialists BMT. Researchers are attempting to recycle portions of dead coral to help the reef thrive.

The project is creating large pillars of dead coral called Bombora, which will act as a habitat for fish native to the reef. When the Bombora is strategically positioned it can even repair parts of the reef. The research team has been backed by funds from the Australian and Queensland governments to start testing pilots of the project.

Scilly season

A £10.8m smart energy project testing how solar power, smart heating and electric vehicles (EVs) can be used to improve the energy system on the Isles of Scilly had its first set of storage batteries installed this week.

UK-based smart battery developer Moixa Technologies has begun installing smart batteries on the Isles of Scilly for use in households and non-domestic sites in a bid to cut the islands’ electricity bills by 40%, source 40% of energy demand from renewables and create a 40% share of the transport market for low-emission vehicles by 2025.

Announced in March 2017, the £10.8m project will see 43.8kWh worth of batteries installed across the isles, with 10 smart homes set to be created to pilot energy storage solutions, renewables integration, air source heat pumps and smart water heaters.

Matt Mace


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green innovation | technology

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