‘Robotic trees’ tackle air pollution as UK’s coffee cups recycled: Good With Money news brief

Written by Lori Campbell on 19th Aug 2019

Mexico installs ‘Robotic trees’ to suck up air pollution as the UK gets coffee cup recycling points to prevent billions ending up in landfill. Meanwhile, the world’s green bond market hits a record quarterly high, UK water companies plant 11 million trees to go carbon-neutral by 2030, and Goldsmiths university bans beef burgers as it declares a ‘Climate Emergency.’ Lori Campbell rounds up the top sustainable stories of the week. 

Mexico installs “robotic trees” to tackle air pollution

“Robotic trees” have been installed in Mexico to tackle air pollution – with each one sucking up as much dirty air as 368 real trees.

The artificial trees, designed by Mexican start-up BioUrban, are towering metal structures filled with micro-algae. Just like real trees, they suck up Co2 and other contaminants from the air, and return oxygen.

Each ‘tree’ is 4.2 metres tall, three metres wide, and weighs about one tonne. It cleans as much air as a hectare of forest – enough for 2,890 people to breathe in a day.

“What this system does, through technology, is inhale air pollution and use biology to carry out the natural process (of photosynthesis), just like a tree,” says Jaime Ferrer, a founding partner in BiomiTech, the company behind the invention.

Ferrer says the company’s goal is to help such cities like Mexico City achieve cleaner air in targeted areas – such as those used by pedestrians, cyclists or the elderly, for example – when planting large numbers of trees is not an option.

Launched in 2016, BiomiTech has so far installed three trees: one in the city of Puebla, in central Mexico, where it is headquartered, one in Colombia, and one in Panama. Ferrer insists the idea of the BioUrban is not to replace real trees, but complement them in areas where planting a forest would not be viable.


Coffee cup recycling bins installed in South 

Coffee cup recycling points are to be introduced at train stations, schools and hospitals across the south of England to prevent billions ending up in landfill due to local authorities being unable to process them.

After an initial trial, the scheme is being rolled-out across 17 sites in the south east, targeting 10,000 customers and recycling as many as 200,000 coffee cups every year.

Around 2.5 billion cups are thrown away in the UK every year, with less than one per cent currently being recycled, according to a 2018 Environmental Audit Committee report.

A new partnership between Selecta UK, a self-serve coffee and convenience food retailer, and Veolia, an environmental solutions company, will see recycling boxes installed in workplaces and near on-the-go machines.

Veolia will collect the boxes and take the cups to its facility in Essex, where they are broken down into pulp.

The pulp is then turned into new products, such as internal and outer packaging for perfumes and colognes, as well as shopping bags and luxury notepads.


Green bond market hits record quarterly high

A record-breaking $66.6 billion (£54.8 billion) of green bonds were issued globally in the second quarter of 2019.

The rapid growth in green bonds – typically defined as investment products created to boost the development of renewable energy projects – has been led by European issuers.

First-half issuance was 47 per cent higher than the same period of 2018, compared to an 11 per cent year-over-year rise in the previous year, according to a new report by Moody’s Investors Service.

“The green bond market remains on course to eclipse our 2019 forecast of $200 billion (£165 billion) of total issuance,” said Moody’s analyst Matthew Kuchtyak.

Want to know what green bonds are? Click here.


UK water companies plant 11 million trees to go carbon-neutral

Major UK water companies, local authorities and NGOs have teamed up on a new tree-planting initiative to help achieve a carbon-neutral water industry by 2030.

The UK’s nine major water and sewerage providers, including Yorkshire Water, Anglian Water and United Utilities have committed to planting 11 million trees to help improve the natural environment across 6,000 hectares of English land.

Original woodland will be restored alongside new projects on land owned by the water companies. Local authorities, The National Trust, The Wildlife Trusts and The RSPB are also part of the initiative and will provide owned land.


Goldsmiths bans beef burgers as it declares ‘Climate Emergency’

Goldsmiths University of London, has banned beef burgers as part of a drive to become carbon-neutral.

Declaring a ‘Climate Emergency’, the university’s new warden Professor Frances Corner unveiled a string of new sustainability measures to be taken in the new academic year.

The declaration commits the university, based in Lewisham in South London, to becoming a carbon-neutral organisation by 2025.

To help reach this target, Goldsmiths will switch to 100 per cent renewable energy, sourced partly through third-party contracts and partly through on-site solar generation. It will also continue to invest in identifying areas where planting and habitat creation or restoration could absorb Co2 from the atmosphere.

Corner has introduced a ban on the sale of beef products from campus outlets, due to come into effect at the start of the new academic year next month.

She has also added a 10p levy to bottled water and single-use plastic cups sold on campus, with funds raised to be earmarked for a green student behaviour change scheme.





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