Japan has always been known for its abundance of vending machines, and now, it’s making headlines once again with its new technology. Asahi Soft Drinks has developed a CO2-eating vending machine that absorbs CO2 from the air using a powder absorbent placed beneath the vending machine. This new technology is expected to be widely distributed in major cities worldwide, including South Korea.
According to a report from the Nihon Keizai Shimbun on May 10th, Asahi Soft Drinks claims that this technology can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 20% caused by vending machines. The company developed the powder absorbent in-house, which is made of naturally occurring minerals and has nine times the absorption power of conventional absorbents. The CO2-absorbed powder will be recycled as industrial raw materials, such as fertilizer or concrete, through collaboration with local governments and companies.
At a press conference, Asahi Soft Drinks CEO Yonemoto Taichi stated that “vending machines are a familiar infrastructure to customers, and the concept of absorbing CO2 could change the negative perception of vending machines from the perspective of decarbonization into a positive one.”
The CO2-eating vending machines will be tested in the Kanto and Kansai regions of Japan next month, with approximately 30 machines installed in areas with high CO2 concentrations such as indoor spaces and subway stations. The company plans to verify the amount and speed of CO2 absorption. According to an Asahi Soft Drinks representative, the company has applied for a patent for this “atmospheric CO2-absorbing vending machine.”
In Japan, which is known for having an enormous number of vending machines, the power consumption and CO2 emissions caused by vending machines are considered common ESG (environmental, social, and governance) issues in the beverage industry. According to the Japan Automatic Vending Machine Manufacturers Association, as of December 2020, there were approximately 4.04 million vending machines in Japan, with more than half being beverage vending machines. In a survey conducted by the Japan Soft Drink Association in 2021, beverage companies stated that they are actively working to reduce CO2 emissions caused by vending machines.
As vending machines absorb outside air when cooling or heating drinks, the company compared this process to the way trees absorb carbon dioxide. The amount of CO2 absorbed by one vending machine annually is equivalent to that absorbed by 20 cedar trees that are over 56-60 years old. With this new technology, vending machines could become a solution to ESG issues.