New Tires Made of Oil from Orange Peels

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Of course Japan would come up with this one….tire manufacturer Yokohama is now selling a tire model made with 80 percent non-petroleum material, substituting orange oil as the primary ingredient to make vulcanized rubber.

The new tire is called the Super E-spec™ and has already received the Popular Mechanics Editor’s Choice Award in 2008. Yokohama will initially market the tire for hybrid car models such as the Toyota Prius.

“The eco-focused dB Super E-spec mixes sustainable orange oil and natural rubber to drastically cut the use of petroleum, without compromising performance,” Yokohama vice president of sales Dan King said. “It also helps consumers save money at the gas pump by improving fuel efficiency via a 20-percent reduction in rolling resistance.”

Orange oil is considered sustainable because it is produced from a renewable resource. The same philosophy of reducing petroleum use is utilized in producing plastics from corn starch or vegetable oil. I love the new drink cups made from corn starch except they have been melting in my car with all this heat this summer!
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Yokohama has yet to release the environmental impact of disposing these tires, which typically provides an environmental concern. The petroleum in traditional tires can burn for months in a landfill and is difficult to extinguish. These fires also release black smoke and toxins into the air. Yokohama has not specified whether the orange oil will biodegrade over time. Let’s hope they will.

The process for recycling tires involves devulcanizing the rubber, which would essentially remove the oil and extract natural rubber. Because this is an expensive process, used tires are often shredded and turned into playground surfacing or additives for the soil in sports turf.

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Green Fades to Black

Two years ago, spurred on by a groundswell of interest in all things eco-friendly, green-related content was sprouting everywhere. For magazines, that meant a flurry of green-themed issues. But the economic downturn, coupled with cooling consumer interest, have some publishers pulling the plug on those products.

Among titles holding off on green issues in ’09 are Conde Nast’s Domino, Time Inc.’s Sunset, Mariah Media’s Outside and independent title Discover. Active Interest Media’s Backpacker, already seeing the concept as tired, did not produce a second global-warming issue this year. “My sense is the idea of doing a green issue has been done so much it feels anachronistic,” said Backpacker editor Jonathan Dorn.

It didn’t help that newsstand sales weren’t so hot for some green issues. Backpacker’s global-warming special sold 44,038 on stands versus its average of 50,227. Discover’s green issue this past May sold 93,000 newsstand copies, versus its 115,767 average. Domino’s 2008 and 2007 green issues sold below average, even though vp, publisher Beth Brenner pointed out that March is not a strong month for single-copy sales.

Not all green issues bombed. Outside sold above average on stands, while this year’s special from Conde Nast’s Vanity Fair, featuring cover subject Madonna, sold 370,000 copies at stands, only slightly below average.

Editors insist readers are still interested in green themes, although some said they are evolving coverage in response to green’s maturation. Hachette Filipacchi Media’s Elle — which made a statement by publishing its green issue on recycled paper this year — plans a water-themed issue in ’09, reminiscent of the blue issue of Rodale’s Women’s Health in 2007.

VF editor Graydon Carter said, via e-mail, that while he may not devote his entire May issue to the environmental theme next year, he plans more eco-oriented coverage overall — “especially now that we have an incoming administration that is sensitive to the environment, knows what it means to be green and takes the science, and the science of global warming, seriously.”
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National Geographic folded its quarterly Green Guide, a consumer-service publication it bought in 2007. But Claudia Malley, vp and U.S. publisher of Nat Geo, said the declining ad market, rather than waning consumer interest, was to blame, noting that newsstand sales for the first two issues were in the 70,000-80,000 range. Malley said a special newsstand issue is planned for next September.

Green Marketing and Communications

In the world of “green,” marketing has unique challenges, not the least of which is the lack of standards for determining what it means to be a green product, or a green company.

Along with the rise of green consumers, Activate see the rise of eco-labeling, green advertising and the importance of environmental reporting. That creates the opportunity for just about anything to be marketed as green, from simple packaging changes to products and services that radically reduce materials, energy, and waste.
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I will publish a top ten list this week for green products.

Toyota Celebrates 10th Anniversary of its Hybrid the Prius

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Since he was a teenager, Takeshi Uchiyamada’s dream was to make a car. But as he entered his 50s as a Toyota engineer, he had all but given up hope he would ever head a project to develop a model.bd99c94a-1c9a-4066-b96c-25fa2b8872e9
In 1994, he finally got his dream. Little did he know that the car he was about to design — the Prius — would revolutionize the global auto industry.

Uchiyamada, 61, now executive vice president, was tackling the first mass production gas-electric hybrid, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in December.

With other engineers, he trudged away at 16-hour work days, patiently testing hundreds of engines. Fistfights broke out over what option to take to overcome engineering obstacles.

The Prius was a big step forward for the future of green cars. Up next for Toyota and its rivals: Far more powerful batteries for next-generation hybrids, plug-in electric cars and eventually zero-emission fuel-cell vehicles powered by hydrogen, which combines with oxygen in the air to form water.

In an interview, Uchiyamada recalled the exhaustion, the loneliness and the gambles as his team debunked Toyota’s image as a safe and boring imitator of rivals’ successes.

Introduced in Japan in December 1997, and the following year in the U.S., the Prius, now in its second generation, gets about 46 miles per gallon switching between a gas engine and electric motor. It has been by far the most successful hybrid, selling a cumulative 829,000 vehicles — making up for most of Toyota’s nearly 1.2 million hybrid sales.

Toyota has gotten a kick from the Prius, an enhanced global image for technological innovation, social responsibility and fashionable glamour, analysts say.

The Prius is also one solid bright spot for Toyota, whose reputation for quality is starting to tarnish as it targets a record of selling 10.4 million vehicles globally in 2009. Meanwhile, its recalls are also ballooning.

But when it all began, Uchiyamada wasn’t even thinking hybrids.

Orders from management — then president Hiroshi Okuda and Shoichiro Toyoda, the company founder’s son and chairman — were ambiguous: Come up with the 21st century car, the vehicle that would hands-down beat the competition in mileage and environmental friendliness.

Uchiyamada initially proposed an advanced gasoline engine that was quickly rejected as lacking imagination. But advanced technologies like fuel cells and the electric vehicle were too expensive for a commercial product.

Creating a hybrid would demand excruciating labor, and management had moved up the deadline to 1997. The engineering obstacles were tremendous, especially the development of the hybrid battery, which must deliver power and recharge in spurts as the car is being driven.

Uchiyamada ditched the usual back-up plans and multiple scenarios, focusing his team on one plan at a time and moving on when each failed.

As Uchiyamada tells it, the Prius wasn’t the kind of car Toyota would have ever approved as a project, if standard decision-making had been followed. It was sure to be a money loser for years.

Conventional wisdom was wrong; Toyota’s once skeptical rivals are now all busy making hybrids. The Frankfurt auto show in August had hybrids galore.

Porsche AG showed off a version of its Cayenne sport utility vehicle that is powered by hybrid technology developed with Volkswagen, and BMW pulled back the curtain on its X6, an SUV coupe crossover hybrid.

I certainly hope Uchiyamada san comes to our Global Summit in November