Shoppers earn £30,000 with reverse plastic bottle vending machine as barred soap makes a comeback. Meanwhile, carbon energy funds top 2018 list of worst performers while green energy group NTR announces £205 million for green fund, and an Edinburgh hotel becomes the first to run on battery power. Lori Campbell rounds up the top sustainable stories of the week.
Shoppers earn £30,000 with reverse vending machine for plastic bottles
Shoppers have earned the equivalent of more than £30,000 by recycling plastic bottles in the first ever supermarket trial of reverse vending machines.
The new scheme, introduced by supermarket chain Iceland, rewards customers with a voucher worth 10 pence for every deposit of a plastic bottle bought at the shop.
A machine was installed in four stores – Wolverhampton, Mold, Fulham and Musselburgh – as well as Iceland’s head office in Deeside.
Since the scheme was rolled out in June, 311,500 plastic bottles have been recycled.
The supermarket said children were “particularly engaged” with the bottle recycling scheme, and even taught and encouraged their parents to use the machines.
Tesco, Morrisons and the Co-op are all now carrying out trials but are yet to publish their results.
Carbon energy funds top 2018 list of worst performers
A sharp fall in oil prices in the last quarter of 2018 sent many energy funds to the bottom of the year’s performance table.
The price of crude in the US dropped from more than $75 (£58) a barrel in October to under $50 (£49) in December, causing a huge impact across the country’s energy-focused funds. The worst performer was the Global Natural Resources fund run by Ohio-based Victory Capital, which lost 45.8 per cent.
The data, from Morningstar, looks at the performance of funds with more than $100 million (£78.5 million) in assets between January 1 and December 28.
In Europe, many equity funds struggled, with the Euro Stoxx 50 index down 14 per cent in 2018, falling steadily through the year. The worst-performing European fund was Credit Andorra AM’s €3.7 billion (£3.3 billion) Crediinvest European Value fund, which lost 37.3 per cent.
Edinburgh hotel becomes first in UK to run on battery power
A five-tonne lithium ion battery has been installed in the hotel, which is close to the airport on the outskirts of the Scottish capital.
The battery will charge up from the national grid during cheaper off-peak hours, taking advantage of Scotland’s large renewable electricity capacity that has, until now, proven difficult to store. The 200-room hotel will then switch to using the battery alone for up to three hours at a time.
Whitbread, which runs Premier Inn, said the trial battery storage technology could save the Edinburgh Park hotel about £20,000 a year. The test will help Whitbread to meet its commitment to halve its carbon emissions by 2025.
Green energy group announces £205 million for green fund
Green energy group NTR has raised €229 million (£205 million) for its second renewable energy income fund.
The new fund, with an initial raise target of €500 million, is expected to invest in working and prospective onshore wind and solar projects across Europe, as well as in energy storage.
Legal & General Capital is to join as a ‘cornerstone investor’ for a second time, the group said.
The European Investment Bank is investing up to €84 million (£75 million) in the fund, which is guaranteed under the Juncker plan (the European fund for strategic investments) and the Brunel Pension Partnership.
Barred soap makes a comeback as shoppers shun plastic
Barred soap is making a comeback in Britain’s bathrooms as shoppers shun plastic bottles.
Following decades of decline, sales of barred soap have risen by nearly three per cent over the past year, according to data collected by Kantar Worldpanel.
In the year to September 2018 supermarket shoppers in Britain spent £68.3 million on barred soaps, up by 2.9 per cent from £66.4 million in the previous year.
Sales of bars of soap grew faster than both liquid soaps and shower products over the period, suggesting shoppers are once again warming to them.
The return to bars comes as Brits try to ditch unnecessary plastic from their homes. A major consumer backlash against unnecessary plastic waste has led to households searching for more eco-friendly versions of everyday items.