Austria, a recent public opinion poll shows an eagerness to lose the country’s reputation as “the ashtray of Europe.” A nationwide petition collected nearly 900,000 signatures (about 14 percent of the total electorate) of people who support a ban on smoking in restaurants and cafes. Some 30 percent of Austrians 16 and older still smoke, the third-
highest percentage among European Union members. The cost of cigarettes remains among the lowest in the EU as well.
India, Gayam Motor Works has become the world’s first electric auto-rickshaw maker.
Nearly 90 percent of Indian drivers have said they would like to switch to an electric vehicle. The company has already sold more than 5,000 of the electrified small three-wheeled vehicles in 15 countries. Gayam offers a key innovation: Its lithium-ion batteries are easily and quickly swapped out for a fully charged one. The company retains ownership of the batteries, lowering the price of the rickshaws for buyers and allowing Gayam to update the batteries as battery technology improves.
Canada, nearly half the identifiable plastic trash cleaned up from the nation’s beaches came from just five companies: Nestlé, Tim Hortons, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s. Greenpeace Canada and other environmental groups counted the sources of plastic debris during a nationwide coastal cleanup effort in September. More than 75 percent of the trash collected was made of plastic. Items included food wrappers (the most common plastic trash), along with bottles, cups, shopping bags, and bottle caps. Another finding: Products made of easily recyclable materials were not less common as beach trash. The prevalence of plastic residue in oceans and on beaches is a growing problem worldwide.