Self-chill can on ice until safer gas is found

Geoffrey Lean tells how a looming environmental disaster was averted

A Serious new danger to the world's climate has been averted as a result of an expose in the Independent on Sunday. The breakthrough has been achieved by a rare combination of prompt government action, constructive campaigning by a green pressure group, and willingness by industry to adapt products to avoid environmental disaster.

Last week the American firm behind a revolutionary can - which automatically chills lukewarm drinks at the touch of a button - announced it would "abandon" worldwide plans to use a gas that would hasten global warming. Instead it will work with a British firm to develop a more environmentally benign alternative.

The alternative, which will use carbon dioxide already being released to the atmosphere as waste, is expected to be in the shops next year, if it passes stringent environmental tests.

The abrupt change of plan has been welcomed by both the Environment minister, Michael Meacher, and WWF-UK, the British arm of the World Wide Fund for Nature, which led the campaign against the threat.

The self-chilling can has long been "the Holy Grail" of drinks manufacturers, avoiding the need for ice or refrigeration and offering instant refreshment in even the hottest conditions.

The Joseph Company of California perfected a can that would cool drinks by 30F in less than two minutes, when a button on its base was pressed. But it worked by releasing a gas - HFC 134a - 3,400 times more powerful in causing global warming than carbon dioxide.

By this spring, a production line for the cans was already being manufactured, and 800 million of them were expected to be sold annually within three years, with incalculable effects on the world's climate. Launches were planned, and the process seemed unstoppable, when the Independent on Sunday published a front-page story on the threat in May.

Immediately Mr Meacher - describing the can as "a new and worrying development that could seriously damage international efforts to combat climate change" - promised to try to get it banned in Europe and raise the issue at his first meeting of EU environment ministers a few weeks later.

Greenpeace dismissed the threat as unimportant, but WWF-UK campaigned on it, getting its sister organisations in almost every EU country to lobby ministers. When Mr Meacher raised the issue, he found almost unanimous agreement to investigate the can, with a view to banning the product.

Meanwhile, the two main manufacturers of HFC 134a, ICI and Dupont, said they would not sell it for use in the cans, and the association representing European drinks manufacturers called for an agreement to avoid it.

WWF-UK then embarked on a double strategy: trying to get the release of HFC 134a banned by international treaty, and looking for a less polluting gas.

Now, after talks involving WWF-UK and the British firm BOC, the Joseph Company has agreed "to abandon the use of HFC 134a, worldwide" and the companies have given themselves two months to come up with a can cooled by carbon dioxide.

The new cans will have to pass an independently audited environmental analysis before they are put on the market.

Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments