41 posts categorized "product design + innovation"

June 10, 2008

Sainsbury's Launching Milk in Bag Packaging

Sainsbury's Milk Packaging One of the leading UK supermarket chains Sainbury's is launching milk sold in a recyclable plastic bag pouch in thirty five of its stores beginning tomorrow.

The chain expects to have the bagged milk available in as many as 500 stores within the next year.

According to published reports the alternative milk packaging is expected to reduce milk packaging waste by up to 75 percent.

Environmental advocates believe replacing all milk packaging in the UK with the bagged milk could keep 100,000 tons of plastic waste from landfills.

The milk bags are made of recyclable LDPE plastic and are designed to fit inside a reusable jug which is sold separately. Consumers open the bags with a spike that pierces the bag and forms a no-leak seal. The used milk bags can be returned to Sainbury's stores or recycled with other household plastics.

The big question is how will consumers on the whole react to the packaging?  Various forms of milk packaging are in use in Europe. 

In fact the use of bags for milk isn't entirely new they've been in use in Canada and the EU for nearly a decade.  Despite this fact they have yet to take off in terms of becoming the preferred method of milk packaging.  So this latest push from Sainbury's will be interesting to follow.

May 14, 2008

Jordans Organic Cereals Packaging

Jordans_organic New bio-based plastic packaging for UK-based Jordans Organic Cereals is a major packaging achievement.  The packaging was recognized last month at the 20th DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation and is featured in a piece by Steve Sterling in this month's Packaging World.  Both Jordans Cereals and the packaging's producer Alcan Packaging were recognized at the DuPont Awards. 

The new packaging uses two different types of bio-based films.  The outer layer is made from Innovia's clear NatureFlex film which was reverse printed according to Steve Sterling.  NatureFlex is made from cellulose derived from non-genetically modified wood pulp.  The inner layer is made from Mater-Bi film from Novamont, according to Sterling.  Mater-bi film is made from non-genetically modified cornstarch. 

Alcan says for the first time, consumers can dispose of their cereal pack in a home or industrial compost thanks to the new packaging.  Developed and manufactured by their Dublin, Ireland plant, the bio-based films, as well as the inks and adhesives used in its conversion, have been certified to conform to the EN 13432 composting standard.

This compostable and biodegradable alternative to polypropylene structures and laminated metallic plastic films was launched following three years of research. “Alcan Packaging is always looking at new ways to expand its product offering and this innovative compostable packaging is the embodiment of our continued efforts in research and development,” said Michael Cronin, president, Food Packaging Europe.

The finished pack provides the same look and feel as a heavy-weight plastic film alternative, with a glossy, printable surface and a tactile finish.

Judges at the DuPont Awards said they felt the use of the bio-based films in the company's cereal packaging was inline with its brand identity and message.  They also commented that the use of bio-based films in packaging in the UK was a significant sustainable development as compared to in the U.S. where facilities are still lacking for proper composting of the materials.

March 12, 2008

Twist Sponges

Twist_sponge

Twist is a clean fresh fun brand that makes high quality more eco-friendly sponges and cleaning cloths by combining elements of design with eco-consciousness.   TWIST products are 100% biodegradable and the packaging is earth-friendly and recyclable. 

Founded in 2006 by Egil Wigert and Brian Ross, Twist has found early success being carried by Whole Foods Market.

The packaging design is clean and simple just like the products.  A key focus for designer Teresa Forrester was making packaging that allowed consumers to look and feel the Twist products up close to see what they are all about.   Consumers are interested in the new Twist sponges and cloths and wanted to pick them up and examine them before buying the company found.

"We really wanted to do something that was more visually stimulating than what has previously been seen in this arena of products, yet still be eco sensitive," said Forrester.   "The Twist brand is fresh, clean, fun and bright this is reflective in our package design and choice of packaging colors. we also wanted to embrace the color of the sponges themselves and incorporate that into our design."

Keeping with the green desires of the brand the packaging design team made the packaging so consumers could make a little bird feeder or mobile out of it before recycling it.  "For the inside of the bellybands, we printed small bird mobiles and where we could, did a two piece bird feeder," said Forrester.  Twist provides consumers instructions for making birdfeeders at their web site.

January 11, 2008

Method Refill Pouch Packaging Expanding

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San Francisco-based Method is finding success with its innovative packaging configuration for its liquid hand soap refills.  Method's refill pouch is now widely available across the country and according to Method's Katie Molinari will be expanding into other forms of their liquid soaps by March.

The pouch itself is a stock pouch from Winpack International in Hayward, CA.  The pouch was added to the Method lineup to serve as a refill for the teardrop hand soap bottle Karim Rashid designed. 

Method's design team led by Creative Director Stefanie Hermsdorf wanted the pouch to be translucent as opposed to opaque. "We wanted translucent because it showed off the colored liquid inside in the same way that our existing bottles do," said Molinari. 

Method is currently working on expanding their refill pouches.  In March Method will offer pouch refills for its foaming hand wash and also add a refill pouch for its popular "go naked" hand wash to its existing liquid soap refills. 

The company is also working on a redesign of the graphic design for the pouch.  Addressing concerns over readability of some of the white text on its current pouch refills, Method's new pouches will be white with "images of the colored bottle scattered across the front in a free-form mosaic," Molinari said. 

According to Method the refill pouch uses 83% less plastic than a similar PET bottle and in turn needs less energy to produce. "Consumers are responding well to the refill and we encourage our customers to purchase refills when available as they use considerably less plastic than thick PET containers," said Molinari.  Method hand wash refills are currently available at Target and other stores including Home Depot, Schnucks, Gristedes and more

December 06, 2007

Nokia Reduces Packaging Releases Greener Phone

Nokia_3110 Finnish cell phone maker Nokia announced this week at the Nokia World conference a new greener phone with reduced green packaging.

The new Nokia 3110 Evolve, is a mobile device with bio-covers made from more than 50% renewable material. The device is presented in a small package made of 60% recycled content and it comes with Nokia's most energy efficient charger yet, using 94% less energy than the Energy Star requirements.

Nokia has been exploring the use of a smaller final packaging solution since early 2005. It designed and rolled out a space saving, compact sales package in spring 2006. This has reduced the amount of packaging materials by 54% compared to the previous solution, and using the same paper-based material inside and out has enhanced the overall recyclability of the packaging.

The smaller packaging size has doubled transportation efficiency with a more than 50% reduction in land and air shipping requirements. During 2006, Nokia shipped 60 million mobile devices in this small package alone, using more than 1,200 fewer trucks than the previous packaging solution.

December 04, 2007

Target Mirel Bioplastic Gift Cards in All 1600 Stores for Holidays

Target_mirel

Target stores are carrying bioplastic gift cards in all 1600 stores for the holiday season.  The cards, available in twelve different holiday designs (see photos) are made from Mirel, a biobased plastic from Cambridge Massachusetts-based Metabolix

According to a source, the cards began to appear nationwide on Saturday 12/1 in Target stores.  Metabolix confirmed the news late Monday with a press release.

Sustainable is Good has reported extensively on the Mirel gift cards and the Target relationship.  In July, Target test marketed gift cards made using Mirel in 129 of its stores.

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Continue reading "Target Mirel Bioplastic Gift Cards in All 1600 Stores for Holidays " »

November 27, 2007

Epicurean Cutting Surfaces

Epicurean Minnesota-based Epicurean Cutting Surfaces is producing a variety of professional and consumer paper fiber cutting surfaces for in home kitchen use. 

The products are made from Richlite, a material made from layers of paper fiber soaked with phenolic resin and cured to create a solid sheet.  During the production cycle the layers of paper are gradually bonded with each other to create solid, durable sheets.

Epicurean claims its cutting surfaces are ideal because they do not dull knives, are maintenance free, dishwasher safe, durable, environmentally friendly, temperature resistant up to 350, NSF approved and their nonporous surface prohibits bacteria growth.

Epicurean Cutting Surfaces are made with eco select paper from trees harvested under guidelines of the North America Sustainable Forestry Standards.  Epicurean's Lesley Patterson told us the company considers their cutting surfaces to be an "eco-friendly alternative to other options currently on the market."

The cutting surfaces are available in natural and slate colors in two different lines the Kitchen and Chef Series.  The cutting surfaces are sold with no packaging other than an informative product label on the surface.  The minimal presentation works well for Epicurean as consumers are drawn to the cutting surface itself and can examine it directly in store displays.

We had the opportunity to try several Epicurean Cutting Surfaces and found them easy to use.  The cutting surfaces worked well with both forged and ceramic knives and are extremely easy to clean using soap and water.  The cutting boards are designed with a hole or handle (depending on model) for easy hanging/display.

Epicurean cutting surfaces are available at Whole Foods Market, Williams Sonoma and other stores as well as online at Amazon.

November 20, 2007

NAU Blender Glove

Nau_blender NAU is known for their use of advanced recycled fabrics and natural materials for their modern outdoor clothing products.  Their new Blender Glove is no exception.  Made from Teijin recycled polyester, Merino wool and Pittards goat leather, it is a top choice for those seeking an advanced technical glove. 

NAU markets the Blender Glove as a more sustainable option since it uses recycled polyester fabric instead of virgin polyester (petroleum). 

The glove is designed to be durable while offering stretch as well as water repellent and breathable. 

We found its build quality to be exceptional - the gloves should yield years of use.  The interior Merino wool lining is also a welcome addition.  Breathability is quite good which is a positive in some conditions but may not be desirable in others.  The gloves seem ideal for all applications requiring dexterity and durability in a glove.  Warmth in cold climates may require a more insulated glove.  It should also be noted the glove is relatively lightweight at 6 oz.

The Blender Glove is available directly from NAU.

NOTE:  We contacted Vermont-based Ibex for product information on their Climawool glove, which is similar to the Blender Glove.  Despite repeated attempts at contact we never received a response from Ibex.

November 19, 2007

Dr. Woods Soap

Drwoodsplain Several months ago one of our contributors was in New York on a product search and a real gem was uncovered.  Apparently there was this brand of soap models were using during NY Fashion week to ensure fantastic skin.  The soap was from a small natural products brand, Dr. Woods

In particular we heard the black soap is relied upon by many for flawless skin.  We had to check it out and when we did were quite impressed.  Not only is the soap exquisite, its inexpensive and comes in easily recycled stock #2 HDPE packaging.

The star of the Dr. Woods soap line is the black soap.  The soap gently exfoliates dead skin skin cells to reveal healthy, radiant skin and is excellent for clearing up blemishes - this explains why the soap is so desirable. 

The company markets their black soap as, "the idea complexion cleanser."  Black soap is made from a process using the skin of a plantain - a natural source of vitamins A&E and iron.  The skin of the plantain is dried and then roasted in a clay oven in order to achieve a particular color, texture and smell.  The roasted plantain skin is mixed with palm oil and palm kernel oil to form the soap.

All Dr. Woods liquid soaps contain organic shea butter which is a wonderful addition making the soaps ultra moisturizing cleansers.

We are particularly impressed with the black soap it works incredibly well and does not dry skin like many other facial soaps do. 

Dr. Woods liquid soap is available in almond, black, peppermint, lavender and tea tree formulations in 8, 16 and 32 oz bottles.  The soaps are available at specialty natural food stores including Whole Foods (Northeast), Fairway Market (NYC) Akins Natural Foods (Oklahoma), Chamberlins Natural Foods (Florida) and others as well as online.

The packaging is all stock #2 HDPE bottles - highly recyclable virtually anywhere in the US. 

November 16, 2007

dropps Laundry Detergent

Dropps Pennsylvania-based Cot'n Wash, Inc. makers of dropps laundry detergent are trying to capitalize on the intense interest in more eco-friendly mainstream laundry detergents.  The makers of dropps are marketing their product as one that saves significant amounts of water as well as plastic.

dropps is unique because it comes in dissolvable "toss-and-go" packs instead of liquid or powder format like many traditional detergents.  The packets are made from a polyvinyl alcohol cast film by Aicello.   

The company is making a push to get consumers to use its product as an eco-friendly alternative to even the concentrated laundry detergents on the market.  Recently concentrated laundry detergents have received a significant amount of attention due to major retailers like Wal-Mart making them a focus of their environmental initiatives.

According to Cot'n Wash, Inc. even 2X concentrated detergents are still 50% water and come in a bottle often not made from recycled plastic.  dropps products have no wasted water the company says as the dosage is pre-measured and all ingredients in the packs are "active".   

The company is also focusing on its packaging with a new clamshell style container made from lightweight recycled PET (RPET) plastic.  The new clamshell packaging is made by Placon

According to published reports, in January, Cot'n Wash switched to the clear, RPET clamshells, "because they are made from 100-percent recyclable packaging," says Jonathan Propper, Cot'n Wash president.  The new packaging is a major eco-friendly improvement over their original hanging clamshell packaging made of clear polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

"Our company is passionate about reducing the waste of both water and plastic, enabling consumers to make a small person contribution in minimizing their own impact on the environment," said Propper.

According to Placon's director of marketing and product development, Laura Stewart, Cot'n Wash selected the packaging for its 20-load and 1-oz trial-size packages from Placon's variety of stock clamshells.

dropps can be purchased at select Target, Wal-Mart, and Whole Foods Market stores or online at Amazon. The products are currently sold in 20-load and trial packaging in fresh scent and fragrance-free varieties.

dropps are biodegradable and NPE and phosphate-free.

November 14, 2007

Preserve Kitchen

PreservekitchenRecycline has added a new series of products to its popular Preserve line.  The new products are called Preserve Kitchen and include two types of cutting boards, food storage containers and a colander.  Most of the products will be sold exclusively at Whole Food Market, several are available directly from Recycline. 

"The idea behind the line was sparked over a year ago when Whole Foods Market approached us about our ideas for green housewares," said Recycline's Marketing Director C.A. Webb.  "Many of their stores have housewares sections and they saw an opportunity to better align that part of the store with the rest of their organic and natural offerings."

The products themselves are the result of a partnership between Recycline and Connecticut-based industrial design firm Evo Design.

"We wanted our designs to take their cues from natural shapes found in the kitchen and to be eye popping and exciting both in shape and color," said Webb.  Evo Design did exactly that taking their design cues from nature.  For instance, the food storage container gets its inspiration from an apple, the colander resembles a strawberry.

But beyond the simple organic designs, making sure that the design and the design process met environmental standards every step of the way was challenging. “We are working hard to ensure that the design supports sustainability,” says Aaron Szymanski, President of Evo Design

The Preserve Kitchen products are the first Preserve products designed by Evo.  "They've shown an amazing knack for understanding our brand and have a total commitment to helping us deliver on Preserve brand's promise:  high performance, high design, eco-friendly products," said Recycline's Director of Product Development Ben Anderson. 

"Whole Foods Market (WFM) has been one of our strongest retail partners and was a natural place for us to launch the Preserve Kitchen line," said Webb.  "WFM sells the entire line of Preserve products -toothbrushes, razors, toothpicks, and tableware, all popular with their customers.  We also, of course, saw the synergies in launching our first foray into the kitchen with one of the most innovative food retailers in the world," she said. 

Most of the Preserve Kitchen line will be initially sold exclusively at WFM and hits store shelves this week in all regions except three (Midwest, Florida, and Pacific Northwest) but will roll out to all regions by spring.  WFM will carry a cutting board, food storage containers (large & small) and a colander all made from 100% recycled #5 polypropylene (PP) plastic - like Preserve's other products.

We've had a chance to test out the new products and have nothing but praise for their design and material usage.  Recycline has become the master at making useful products from pure recycled #5 PP plastic, and Preserve Kitchen products are no exception. 

Like other Preserve products the packaging is minimal to non-existent.  The food storage containers come in minimal paperboard packaging (100% recycled/ 35% PCW) while the cutting board and colander simply have a Preserve label affixed to them with no packaging at all.

 Preserve adds Paperstone Cutting Boards to Product Line Up

Lg_paperstone_150x120 In addition to the Preserve Kitchen products made from #5 PP, the company  has added two new cutting boards made from Paperstone to its Preserve Kitchen product line.

Paperstone is a material that has been used in green countertops for several years now.  "We were also curious to explore a new material and developed a cutting board from Paperstone," said Webb. 

The Paperstone cutting boards are available directly from Recycline or at Whole Foods Market in two sizes and are both Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and RainForest Alliance certified made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper.

The addition of the new Paperstone cutting boards is exciting - its always good to experiment with new materials.  We see this new line as an area Recycline can continue to explore, hopefully developing more products from this material.  It is durable and easy to clean and the fact its made from post-consumer recycled paper is a tremendous positive in terms of its greenness.

November 07, 2007

Eneloop Rechargeable Batteries

Hr4utg2bp Eneloop is a new line of smart rechargeable batteries from GE Sanyo.  The batteries are different than other rechargeables in that they are capable of holding 85% of their charge for up to a year and can be recharged 1000 times.  Eneloop batteries do not suffer from the "memory" effect that plagues many rechargeable batteries.  When recharged using Eneloop's chargers the batteries charge or lifespan is not adversely impacted.

The batteries come from Sanyo Japan and have been popular overseas.  Several minor changes were made to the product's packaging and design for the US market according to Sanyo USA's Stacy Rupert. 

The name "eneloop" came from Sanyo's Japanese HQ and stands for "energy in a loop".   Both the batteries and their PET plastic packaging are recyclable. 

Graphic design of the Eneloop line is exceptional and original.  The batteries are white and the brand name appears in blue.  Packaging is minimal and well designed for sleek slim shelf appeal.   "Both the battery and packaging were designed by our Japan HQ for the 2 pack, 4 pack, 8 pack as well as the Compact Charger & 4 position charger," said Rupert.  "We did do some in house modifications to it as well for the US market."  The modifications to the packaging include the addition of the orange band on the top of the packages which clearly explains eneloop is a rechargeable battery.

Several of the packages where designed exclusively for the US market.  "Our Power Pack design and USB charger packaging designs were done completely in house by our own graphic designer in our office," Rupert said.

Photo of eneloop's USA packaging courtesy of GE Sanyo

November 05, 2007

Ditto Hangers 100% Recyclable Clothing Hangers

Ditto_hangers Oakland-based GreenHeart Global has developed what it believes to be the ultimate eco-solution to the massive problem of unrecyclable clothing hangers.  The company's Ditto Hangers launch today and are an innovative product with significant environmental benefits.

What makes Ditto hangers different from those currently available are the materials used to make them.  The hangers are made from two of the most recycled materials world-wide, paper and PET plastic. 

“We designed our hangers starting at the end of their useful life rather than from the beginning," said  GreenHeart Global President and CEO Gary Barker.  “That way we know they’ll have value on the secondary market, unlike the typical ‘invisible’ hanger found in most retail clothing stores”. 

Created for retail clothing companies, non-toxic dry cleaners and green hospitality Ditto Hangers are 100% recyclable in the majority of recycling programs at the store level. They are designed to replace the billions of #6 polystyrene (PS) and #5 polypropylene (PP) plastic and wire hangers that are produced annually, only 15% of which are typically recycled. The rest go to landfills taking over 1000 years to break down1 .

Ditto hangers has two product lines consisting of their 100% recyclable Ditto Paper Hangers, made from certified recycled paper (80-100% PCW) printed with vegetable inks and environmentally friendly starch adhesives, and Ditto’s 100% PET Plastic Hangers (min 70% PCW), the most highly recycled of all plastics world-wide.  Their unique design recently won two 1st prizes in the International Design Awards for Sustainable Living/Environmental Preservation and Urban Sustainable Design.

Barker explains, “Many clothing companies ship their clothing from overseas on plastic and wire hangers.  Once the item sells, the hanger is disposed.  So a hanger with a useful life of a week to a couple of months, ends up in a landfill taking 1000 or more years to degrade.  It doesn’t make sense.”

By focusing on making hangers made solely from either paper or PET the company can ensure the hangers are recyclable at end of life.  This is a major boon for their customers who can then turn around and cite their use of the product as an environmental improvement to their own customer base.

Interestingly the company considered producing Ditto hangers from bio-plastics, like the Merrick Earthsaver hangers Sustainable is Good has covered.  Ultimately they decided against it for a variety of reasons. 

"We, too, were hoping to use bio-plastics in our products," said Barker.  "However the more research we did, the more problematic the material appeared.  Corn based plastic is only compostable in municipal composting facilities with temperatures that reach 140º for 10 consecutive days, an environment not possible in home composting.  Most of the country does not have municipal composting programs.  Should bio-plastic get into regular plastic recycling it will foul the entire batch and render it unrecyclable.  If bio-plastic is not composted in a landfill will last as long as oil based plastic (1000+ years).  Corn used for PLA (NatureWorks) is genetically modified and uses more nitrogen fertilizer, synthetic fertilizers, more herbicide and more insecticides than any other US crop.  Sadly the time is not right for this new material. We hope in the years ahead, however, that it will be," said Barker.

Barker's new Ditto Hangers are not available directly to consumers, the company is focusing on clothing retailers, dry cleaners and the hospitality industry.

November 02, 2007

AlmaWin Cleanut Laundry Detergent

Cleanutsisg_2 AlmaWin Cleanut is a natural concentrated laundry detergent from Germany.  The detergent's main ingredient is the soap nut.  Soap nuts have been used as a natural and healthy cleaning agent in India for over 3,000 years. 

Cleanut is based on soap nut extracts and blended with other ingredients in order to increase the washing power of those extracts.  The Cleanut laundry detergent fits in well with our recent focus on the growing trend in the US where many laundry detergent brands are offering concentrated versions of their products.

We found Cleanut to be a highly effective laundry detergent.  As we normally do the product was tested using a cold water wash cycle - which conserves significant amounts of energy.  Cleanut performed well in our tests leaving clothing and towels soft and clean.   

AlmaWin Cleanut exceeds the Belgian Ecogarantie standards. This independent label indicates that the production process and the Cleanut ingredients comply with the worldwide highest standards of sustainability and ecological responsibility.

Compared to American concentrated laundry detergents, Cleanut comes in a small 25.3 fl oz bottle and handles 25 loads of laundry.  For comparison purposes Unilever's All Small & Mighty standard bottle is 32 fl oz and handles 32 loads of laundry according to the company. 

Cleanut's packaging is a custom #2 HDPE bottle made by Rixius in Germany.

Cleanut laundry detergent is available in the US through Amazon.comin a case (6 bottles) or a package of two bottles.

October 26, 2007

Merrick Earthsaver Bamboo Hangers

Earthsaverbambsisg The interesting saga of greener clothing hangers from California-based Merrick Engineering continues with another unknown new product spotted in a retail store - this time at Target.

Back in March Sustainable is Good reported on Merrick's earthsaver corn hangers discovered at Wal-Mart stores.  We have still not heard anything regarding these hangers from either the company or Wal-Mart.  The corn-based hangers aren't even mentioned on Merrick's web site.

Discovered this week is another apparent addition to the earthsaver line - bamboo hangers in several different styles, seen featured in a special display in a Massachusetts Target store. 

The hangers are made almost entirely from bamboo sourced from China and come in a suit hanger, shirt hanger and a pants hanger.  The hangers were priced at $7.99 for a pack of six in either the suit or shirt style. 

It is unknown whether the bamboo earthsaver hangers are available at Target stores nationwide or only in select stores across the country.

The Merrick earthsaver mystery continues.  The company has not responded to requests for information on either of the hangers and their distribution/manufacture. 

From retail store watching it would appear the corn-based hangers are sold at Wal-Mart stores and the bamboo hangers are sold at Target stores.  It is not known whether either is exclusive to the stores.

What fascinates me about this hanger story is the lack of publicity from the company or either major retailer.  Both Wal-Mart (corn earthsavers) and Target (bamboo earthsavers) are both actively touting their greenness, yet neither have mentioned the hangers in any of their publications or web sites.

As has been reported from readers Wal-Mart makes the corn earthsaver hangers very difficult to find, often displaying them low and mixed in with other hangers.  The Target display I saw featured the hangers at the beginning of an aisle in the household organization section of the store.  The display was prominent and included some custom graphics.

Why the manufacturer Merrick doesn't have information on its web site regarding either hanger it manufacturers is a mystery.

Clearly time and effort have gone into the sourcing and development of the earthsaver product line - why not promote it?

Webextra Read our earlier story on Merrick's Earthsaver corn hangers.

October 25, 2007

Weleda Salt Toothpaste

Weledasisg Weleda's salt toothpaste is a product that has intrigued us for a while.  Recently we had the chance to try the unique toothpaste and find out about its background and packaging from Weleda's North American PR firm Siren.

The idea of a salt toothpaste is something foreign to American consumers but in Europe, where the toothpaste was developed its an established product with a strong following. 

Weleda is known for its superior natural products.  Siren told us, "all Weleda products—both internal medicines and external skin care—have been created to support and catalyze the body’s natural healing and caring abilities." 

Their focus on formulation and quality is clearly evident in their products and the salt toothpaste is no exception.  Made in Germany the toothpaste's use of sea salt increases saliva production in the mouth to help wash out bacteria found in the mouth and dilute the concentration of remaining bacteria which lead to gum inflammation and decay.

We had several of our writers try Weleda's Salt Toothpaste and we all came back with the same conclusion - highly impressed.  Having tried a number of natural toothpaste products we each liked this one because you can feel it doing exactly what its designed to do - clean the mouth.

Siren told us the salt toothpaste is Weleda's number one seller in North America of its adult toothpaste products (their Children's Tooth Gel is number one overall sales). 

In terms of packaging Weleda employs "only the safest materials for its packaging to protect and preserve both the product formulation and the environment.  In addition, Weleda designs its unique packaging for easy use and durability.  All packaging is recyclable."

The salt toothpaste packaging like all of Weleda’s oral care line is packaged in Aluminum tubes due to the pure ingredient composition of the products.  "Natural substances, such as essential oils, are “living,” making them extremely volatile.  Aluminum does not react with the formulations within, eliminating oxygenation of the products.  All Aluminum tubes are lined with a protective resin to avoid any interaction between the product and the Aluminum material," according to Siren.

Weleda's salt toothpaste and their other products are available at a variety of natural/specialty stores including Whole Foods.

October 19, 2007

Target Mirel Bioplastic Gift Card Pictures

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UPDATED 12/4 - See our latest story on Mirel and Target - all 1600 stores will carry the gift cards for the holiday season - Read full story.

Back in August Sustainable is Good reported on new gift cards Target was selling made from a biodegradable plastic called Mirel.  At the time we ran the original story, shortly after the cards were announced, we didn't have any photos of the actual cards.

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Sustainable is Good has obtained photos of the new gift cards as well as a photo of one of the cards after 40 days in compost.  The gift cards are only available at a small number of Target stores nationwide (129 stores).  Readers have told us the cards are sold in specially designed display cases usually located near the front of the store. The cards say the following on the back, "This GiftCard is made from naturally renewable corn-based material that is biodegradable in your backyard compost

The cards are made from Mirel, a new family of biobased plastics made from corn that provides an alternative to traditional, petroleum-based plastics. Unlike conventional plastics, Mirel biodegrades in a variety of environments including soil, home compost, wetlands, rivers and oceans.   

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The biobased plastic is made by Telles, a company formed between Cambridge Massachusetts, Metabolix and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM).  Telles is a 50-50 joint venture between the two companies.   

A new web site was just launched for Mirel plastics. 

Telles is currently working with more than 50 prospects on more than 70 applications, including consumer products, packaging, single-use disposables, and products used in agriculture and erosion control.

October 18, 2007

Simple Shoes Sno Tire ecoSNEAKS

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UPDATED 04/23/08 - read our story on the new Simple ecoS shoes from their ecoSNEAKS line on our sister site Sustainable is Good Products

Simple Shoes has just launched a line of eco-friendly shoes called ecoSNEAKS.  The shoes are made from a number of greener and eco-friendly components including organic cotton, rPET plastic and car tires. 

The line contains four men's styles and five women's. The ecoSNEAKS line is reasonably priced and offers eco conscious consumers the ability to buy products made from materials they commonly recycle.

We tested Simple's Sno Tire shoe from the ecoSNEAKS line.  The shoes are made from washed leather and have organic cotton canvas uppers, organic cotton linings, PET laces, PET pedbeds, outsoles that used to be a car tire and vulcanized rubber sidewalls, toe and heel caps.

The packaging is well... Simple.  The box is made from 100% post consumer recycled paper and printed with soy-based inks.  The shoes have foot forms made from 100% post consumer paper pulp inside them when they arrive in the box.  This is the only other packaging that comes with the shoes.  No plastic, no excess paper stuffed inside the shoes, nothing.Simpleboxsisg

We like the Sno Tire shoes.  They are incredibly comfortable and easy to wear.  The sole is made from a car tire and it seems quite durable and well suited to the application.  The Sno Tire shoes are stylish and come in four different color choices.  They are available in both men's and women's sizes.

Simple's Sno Tire shoes and the rest of the ecoSNEAK line are available online through Simple's web site.

October 15, 2007

Cereplast Sustainable Polypropylene: Biopropylene

Cereplastresinsisg California-based Cereplast is making news again with the release later this month of a new Cereplast Hybrid Resin called Biopropylene 50.  The resin is a 50% petroleum and 50% starch-based resin exhibiting similar characteristics to traditional #5 polyproplene.

Cereplast Hybrid Resins, like Biopropylene 50, are bio-based, replacing 50% or more of the petroleum content in traditional plastic products with bio-based materials such as starches from corn, tapioca, wheat and potatoes. 

Cereplast also makes a series of resins using its proprietary blend of starches blended with PLA from NatureWorks LLC.  Sustainable is Good reported back in August that Cereplast Resin was being used in a new line of biodegradable toys called Green Toys.

Cereplast founder/president/CEO Frederic Scheer told Injection Molding Magazine his company produces 15 resins, 8 of which are NatureWorks PLA-based containing between 5-62% PLA depending the resin.  All Cereplast resins are made of renewable resources and are BPI-certified as 100% compostable. 

Cereplast Hybrid Resins are cost-competitive with traditional petroleum-based plastic resin. With significantly more of the resin content derived from starches, the pricing of Cereplast Hybrid Resins is not as influenced by the volatile prices of oil. The price per pound of Cereplast Hybrid Resins is similar to the price of traditional polyolefin.

Cereplast Hybrid Resins can be processed at the same cycle time as traditional plastics, but require less energy in the production process by using significantly lower machine temperatures.

October 05, 2007

Memorex ReNew

Memorexrenew Memorex, owned by Imation Corp has recently released a new line of consumer electronics named ReNew.  The products feature a number of "environmentally aware" design choices including the reduction of packaging material. 

Designed to minimize impact on the environment through responsible choices in product design, manufacturing and packaging, the new Memorex ReNew line blends patterns and textures inspired by nature with forms and features familiar to electronics the company said. 

Sergio Castillo, director, Imation Electronics Products Division said one of the main areas the ReNew design team focused on was reducing packaging waste. 

"In designing the ReNew line, our team was driven to make decisions that were more environmentally aware, including using recycled plastics in the products themselves, and substantially reducing the amount of packaging waste," Castillo said.

Memorex ReNew products meet the tough RoHS Standards (Restriction of use of certain Hazardous Substances in electrical and electronic equipment) which restrict the use of certain hazardous materials such as mercury, lead and several flame retardants among others.  The RoHS standards resulted from a July 1, 2006 EU directive regarding the sale of electronics produced or sold in the EU. 

Making the ReNew line RoHS compliant was a smart move for Memorex even though the same restrictions are not currently in place in the US.  By making products for the US market compliant the company is streamlining its production chain making its products available cross market.  Short term this could increase costs for Memorex but in the long run it will pay off.

Webextra To learn more about RoHS standards visit their web site

According to the company ReNew packaging consists of "recycled cardboard" and features includes inserts that include interior product egg carton style trays made from 100% recycled paper.

The packaging features a natural brown paperboard look to it with graphic design in green tones.  The packaging also carries information about commitment from Memorex to plant between 1 and 3 trees for each product purchased (varies by product in the line) as part of a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation.

Memorex has teamed up with the Arbor Day Foundation and will make a donation each time one of its ReNew electronics products is purchased through Nov 30, 2007 adding a minimum of 75,000 trees to US national forests.

Currently the line is available and prominently featured at Target Stores across the country.

October 03, 2007

ReProduct Cradle to Cradle Greeting Cards

Reproductsisg ReProduct is a new product line from the company Cradle to Cradle Holdings (C2C Holdings).  It has strong ties to the Cradle to Cradle design concept and one of its founders.

C2C Holdings was founded in November of 2004 and first sold to the public during the holiday 2006 season.  The ReProduct line of the company has the motto "A World without Waste" and is currently producing greeting cards.   

The greeting cards are made of OPP (oriented polypropylene) #5 polypropylene plastic and come with 2-way envelopes allowing the receiver of the card to send it (postage paid) to Shaw Industries where the card and envelope are made into Shaw EcoWorx carpet tile backing.

ReProduct offers a line of stock consumer cards (available through their web site) but currently does most of its business in custom order cards. 

The cards are catching on quickly.  Last holiday season close to 80,000 cards were printed for corporations, elected officials and celebrities.  John & Teresa Kerry's 2006 holiday card was from ReProduct.  Toy manufacturer Mattel used a ReProduct card for their 2007 Earth Day card.

C2C Holdings Chief Marketing Officer Karyn Pless told Sustainable is Good the product is certified by MBDC as a technical nutrient and Bill McDonough (one of MBDC's founders) is also a shareholder of the company.

"Our first product, ReProduct™ greeting cards and envelopes, use materials vetted for both human and environmental health.  The card comes to the recipient in a unique 2-way envelope (similar to Netflix) that provides pre-paid return postage to Shaw Industries.  When the recipient is finished with the card, they simply put the card into the return envelope and drop it in the mail. Shaw Carpet then uses 100% of the cards and envelopes to create carpet backing in "new" carpet tiles," the company's web site says.

Currently card return rates hover around around 10%, said Pless.  This number is not of great concern given the fact the company has just begun its marketing and informational efforts to publicly explain the card and process for returning it.  The ReProduct web site now has a wealth of information on the cards  including a life cycle analysis of the product. 

Pless also said a contributing factor to the return rate was the fact the fact a "significant percentage of the cards we have produced (50%) were for Senator John Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz-Kerry’s holiday card last year.  Since this was a special card, many people kept it ... Even mail-in rebate (where the consumer gets money back) return rates don’t often hit double digits.  We know this number will escalate this holiday season since more people know about the cards and sustainability as a whole is in a much more 'mass' place than it was last year," she said.

Reproductreturnsisg According to Shaw, if they were to replace the entire EcoWorx polymer with OPP polymer in the cards and envelopes it would take 88 cards and envelopes to equal one square yard of Shaw EcoWorx carpet tile.

If people who receive a card decide not to send it to Shaw it can always be recycled in communities that accept #5 PP.

C2C Holdings is working hard targeting corporations, ENGOs and elected officials for ReProduct custom holiday cards.   

In addition, they are speaking to retailers (both specialty and mass) and greeting card publishers (such as American Greetings, Hallmark and Recycled Paper Greetings).  "Our plan is not to become another greeting card player, but instead license our intellectual property to an existing publisher.  This plan is moving along very well, but I cannot yet tell you when we will be available at retail," Pless said.

"Our initial focus on greeting cards is really based on bringing the Cradle to Cradle theory to the masses through a simple, emotional product that touches everyone," she said.

Consumers who are interested in purchasing ReProduct cards can currently choose from a holiday boxed set or a set of cards featuring photographic abstractions of natural elements taken by Bill McDonough.  The cards are available directly from ReProduct's web site.

October 01, 2007

Sustainable Sourcing's HimalaSalt Focused on Packaging

Himalasaltsisg
HimalaSalt is a product line of primordial Himalayan sea salt produced and distributed by Massachusetts-based Sustainable Sourcing LLC.  The line features the "purest salt on earth," pink Himalayan sea salt with no additives.  The company focuses on what it calls "ethical sourcing" and prides itself on its sustainable packaging.

Sustainable Sourcing's founder Melissa Kushi has focused a great deal of attention on the packaging for the line that includes coarse salt, two different filled salt grinders and pre-ground finer table salt among others.  "All packaging is either 100% recycled, recyclable, refillable or reusable," said Kushi. 

The company's operations run off 100% Green-e certified wind power and all the product's packaging carry the Green-e certified logo.

The products are of high quality there is no question.  Kushi has gone to great lengths to source free trade ethically sourced products like the Himalayan salt.

The company sells two sizes of grinders with its coarse salt, both are refillable and will remain in the buyer's kitchen for years of use. 

The larger salt grinder uses ceramic blades and according to the company is, "100% climate-neutral made by wind power and Green-e certified through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation."  It is this focus on reuseability and responsible production that makes the product and packaging appealing to a wide segment of the market.

Himalasaltgiftsisg Kushi has just released a Sustainable Sourcing Organics Gift Kit, containing an assortment of salt and Fair Trade Green peppercorns from the tropical hill forests of India. 

The packaging for the new kits is different from her line of salts.  The kits come in an open wooden box with wood certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and are wrapped in a shrink wrap made from EarthFirst PLA.   

SFI is one of the most recognized wood/paper certifications along with the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC).  Despite its recognition, SFI has faced criticism from groups who feel it is too closely aligned with the logging industry.  Nevertheless, the organization certifies wood and paper producers following its own set criteria.  Certified producers then can use its name and logo with their products.

The shrink wrap film used to seal the gift packs is made from EarthFirst PLA film which is made with NatureWorks Polymer.  The biodegradable film is made from corn and has properties similar to the traditional petroleum-based plastic films it replaces.  Because of this fact it is beginning to see increased use in both the retail and food service sectors. 

EarthFirst PLA is compostable and has been used for a variety of packaging solutions including the film over wrap of Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth DVD.

Himalasalt is available at Whole Foods and other retailers. 

September 07, 2007

Coca-Cola Introduces New PET Bottle; Announces Construction of $60 Million PET Recycling Facility

Cokepetsisg

In a series of carefully timed releases the Coca-Cola Company made two major announcements this week.   First the company announced on Tuesday the launch of their new PET plastic bottle.

Tuesday's announcement was followed up on Wednesday with the announcement the company will build a $60 PET recycling facility in Spartanburg, S.C. with the United Resource Recovery Corporation.

Coca-Cola's new PET contour bottle will be used for all of its brands and uses 5% less PET than their current bottle.

The new 20-ounce bottle is designed to be easy-to-hold and easy-to-open offering on-the-go convenience to people looking for immediate refreshment.

Coca-Cola said consumers can except to see the new bottles in convenience stores immediately and nationwide by early 2008.

The company's new PET recycling facility will be the world's largest plastic bottle-to-bottle recycling plant when it opens in 2008.  The plant is expected to be operational by 2009. 

The joint venture with United Resource Recovery Corporation will produce approximately 100 million pounds of food-grade recycled PET plastic each year - or the equivalent of two billion 20-ounce Coca-Cola bottles.

The Spartanburg facility will use URRC's patented UnPET process for chemically super-cleaning PET flake for cost efficient food grade packaging.  The new facility and technology are related to a five year development program between the two companies begun in 1996.  The companies were working together to commercialize the UnPET process by producing food-grade quality PET chip for bottle-to-bottle recycling. 

Based on the recent announcement regarding construction of the new $60 million facility, it would appear they were successful.

August 23, 2007

Kenton Athletics Mens Body Care Products

Kenton_athletics_sustainabl

Kenton Athletics is a new brand of natural men’s body care products created from scratch by founder Kenton Shirk.  The company is based in Providence, RI and currently features one main product, their 2 in 1 Body & Hair Wash product available in three different formulations (Surf, Mountain & Trail blends).

The Body & Hair Wash is plant based, biodegradable and derives its fragrance from essential oils.    Each blend has a unique clean fresh scent that is not over powering and follows the theme of the blend i.e. Trail Blend is a woody scent, while the Surf and Mountain blends are clean and fresh.

“The target market is active and health-conscious individuals.  The product is particularly popular with men and teenagers because there is not a lot of natural body care options available for them,” said Shirk.   

The Surf blend is the most popular scent so far with consumers according to Shirk

The body wash/hair care product is a 2 in 1 so customers only need to carry one bottle with them to the gym or on the trail.  The concept also reduces the need for multiple products and in turn reduces packaging and consumption. 

The packaging is simple using a stock #2 HDPE bottle which is almost universally recyclable.  Graphic design was done by Shirk himself and features a masculine outdoors/natural theme.

Kenton’s products have only been in stores for 3 months now and, “so far so good,” reports Shirk. 

Kenton Athletics is currently carried by Whole Foods and is available in 65 stores including all Whole Foods stores in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maine. 

Shirk said his products will be available in the Denver region in October through United Natural Foods – the country’s largest natural products distributor.  Consumers can also buy the products directly through Kenton Athletics web site

Kenton Athletics is based in Providence, RI and his products are all made in the U.S.

August 14, 2007

Francis Ford Coppola Wine to be Sold in Single Serve Plastic Cups

Winesusisgood


Francis Ford Coppola Rosso and Bianco wines are being sold in single serve plastic cups.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported in an interview with Coppola that he is already selling the wines in single serve packaging at "selected" locations including AT&T Park in San Francisco. 

According to the Napa Valley Register the Francis Ford Coppola winery will offer its Rosso cabernet sauvignon and Bianco pinot grigio wines in plastic cups with peel-off foil lids.

Look for single serve wine in reusable bistro style plastic cups to be available nationwide in 2008.  "We’re having some production issues with the seal and the packaging. I’m not sure when we’re going to sell them around the country. Probably not until next year...," Coppola told the AJC. 

At AT&T Park home of the San Francisco Giants, the wines are quite popular outselling similar products with screw-cap tops and wines poured by the glass.  The new offering is designed to attract more consumers and appeals especially to the younger generation

The single-serve wines are known as "187s" referring to their size 187 milliliters or 6.3 ounces. 

It is unknown what type of plastic the single serve wine cups are made out of and what the manufacturing process is blow or injection molding.  This is a key element in determining ease of recycling as many communities nationwide do not accept injection molded #1 or #2 plastics.

Of course the cups could be reused, however reuse is currently not a realistic option since they are sold in environments where disposable products are used (baseball stadium).  It is unknown if the Giants organization collects and recycles the wine cups.

August 13, 2007

Raid Disposable Yellow Jacket Trap

Raidyellowjacket
Flipping through the Sunday paper I came across an ad for the new Raid Disposable Yellow Jacket Trap.  I did a double take because the motto of the product is "Defend your family against aggressive yellow jackets."

I didn't know whether to laugh or what.  Where to begin on this one.  Well from a product stand point its a disposable plastic trap to protect against the "aggressive yellow jackets."  The item itself is plastic and is designed to be discarded after trapping the yellow jackets.    This is a landfill product.

If you check out Raid's (owned by S.C. Johnson) web site www.killsbugsdead.com you can watch an animated movie about the disposable trap and its "non-toxic attractant."

The marketing of this product is ridiculous.  Does the product also attract and trap bees?  If so it would be especially irresponsible considering the on going and not understood issue of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).   

Yet another "disposable" product.  Terrific.  Out of sight out of mind.  Right?  Not exactly. 

If S.C. Johnson was actually concerned they'd offer consumers information and spend a little time helping them learn about yellow jackets and how to remove them safely.  Then produce a safe trap that wasn't disposable for consumers to buy and reuse if necessary.

Instead we have yet another needless disposable product and consumers who just buy it not even thinking if they really need it.  Hey I can just throw it out right?

August 11, 2007

Wal-Mart Canada to host Green Product Fair

Wmgreenprod

Wal-Mart Canada will host a Green Product Fair tailored to Canadian suppliers on August 29 in Montreal.

The event will give suppliers of environmentally-friendly products the chance to showcase their merchandise to a range of Wal-Mart Canada buyers.

The fair is designed to expand the scope of green products already available to Canadians at Wal-Mart stores across the country and is limited to producers and distributors of eco-friendly, organic or fair trade products.

The event is the latest initiative in Wal-Mart Canada's vast Greener Good program launched earlier this year to drive the company's long-range goals to generate zero waste, to be powered 100 percent by renewable energy, and to be a leader in providing products that are good for the environment.

Wal-Mart Canada's Green Fair is also part of the Purchased in Quebec program so Quebecers can get Quebec products that can significant help the environment.

The Fair will feature Mario Pilozzi, President and CEO of Wal-Mart Canada.  It will be held at the Centre Mont-Royal in Montreal on August 29 beginning at 7:30 a.m.

The Green Fair is another example of a forward thinking action by a major corporation's Canadian division.  Wonder if it is a sign of things to come for Wal-Mart in the US?

August 10, 2007

Green Toys Set to Launch Line of Bioplastic Toys

Gtoysustainableisgood

San Francisco-based Green Toys is launching a line of what it calls environmentally friendly toys.  The toys will be made from a bio-based plastic produced by Cereplast.

Green Toys’ product lineup is made from Cereplast bio-based plastic resin.  Cereplast resin is made from corn, wheat, potato and tapioca starches as opposed to petroleum.

Green Toys are produced using an injection molding process.  Because of this, the Cereplast resin is combined with polylactide (PLA) from NatureWorks LLC.  PLA is a versatile polymer that is made from a complex process beginning with corn.

In order to achieve some of the physical characteristics needed for Green Toys it was necessary to combine the Cereplast resin with PLA into one final product, explained Kevin Oates from Cereplast's PR firm Ketchum.

NatureWorks PLA is the world's first and only performance plastic made from 100 percent annually renewable resources.  NatureWorks LLC is a stand-alone company owned by agricultural giant Cargill.

Green Toys is using biodegradable colorants from PolyOne Corporation in order to give its toys their color.   PolyOne Senior Product Manager Carl Knight said, "the colorants enhance the esthetic without disturbing the compostability of the product."  The colorants used in the Green Toys application fall under PolyOne's OnColor(tm)BIO product line.  "We worked with Green Toys to design a custom solution for them - the colors are specific to Green Toys," Knight said.

Greentoyspack In terms of packaging Green Toys is said to be still working on their final packaging design.  They had released an image of a tentative packaging design however that is changing.  The final design will use 100 percent paper board instead of plastic or clam shells.  The company says its packaging is made from recycled paper products. 

All aspects of production of Green Toys are done in the U.S., which Robert von Goeben, a partner at Green Toys told toy industry magazine Playthings was another example of an earth-friendly aspect of his company.

According to Kirk Green of Green Toy's PR firm, Gonzo Communications, Green Toys will be available to consumers after October 1 through the web and at specialty retailers.  The line made its debut at the San Francisco International Gift Fair during the last week of July.

Since the products are not yet available for sale it is too early to gauge their popularity with consumers. Reaction within the toy and plastics industries to the new bioplastic toys runs the gamut from excitement to concern.

Von Goeben says that the response from retailers has been thrilling, and has even caught some of Green Toy’s reps off guard. “Reps think they have their finger on the pulse of the industry, and said that we really came out of left field, so they’re excited about it because it was not on their radar."

Design News Contributing Materials Editor Doug Smock isn't convinced the use of biodegradable plastics is a positive move.  "There is no environmental advantage to biodegradable packaging unless you’re the type who throws wrappers out of your car window," he says. 

"Their (Green Toys) pitch is simple and fair: plastics made from corn or potatoes use less energy to produce than plastics made from oil. There is no documentation of that claim on their web site, however, and there should be because fuel made from corn (ethanol) may consume more petroleum than it saves."

It will be very interesting to see consumer reaction to Green Toys.  If nothing else the line is a significant innovation in the use of bioplastics.

August 09, 2007

GreenPan Eco-friendly Nonstick Cookware

Greenpan GreenPan, a newcomer to the cookware marketplace made quite a splash in its US debut.  The cookware is marketed as an eco-friendly non-stick, the first such product since the invention of non-stick technology for cookware.

GreenPan completely sold out in its US premier on the Home Shopping Network (HSN) on July 26th.  The cookware was presented by Joy Mangano, President of HSN's subsidiary Ingenious Designs and chef Todd English.  It sold out of all four products presented, 24,000 pieces, in four hours.  The featured item was a six piece set that sold as the "today's special" for $89.90. 

GreenPan differs from other non-stick cookware on the market because it does not use Polytetrafluoroethylene (PFTE), the chemical name for Dupont's Teflon non-stick material.  The cookware is also not manufactured with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical used in the manufacturing of traditional Teflon-based non-stick coatings.

The non-stick surface used in the cookware is a ceramic-based nano non-stick coating named Thermolon.  The coating can tolerate up to 850 degrees F (traditional non-stick coatings top out at 500 F). It has the look and feel of enameled cast-iron pans.

GreenPan cookware with Thermolon non-stick coating was developed in a partnership between HSN and the manufacturer, Hong Kong-based GreenPan LTD. 

The manufacturer also notes production of GreenPan cookware releases 50% fewer greenhouse-gasses compared to similar PTFE-based (Teflon) non-stick technology.

HSN is currently sold out of all GreenPan cookware.

August 06, 2007

Freitag Tate Modern Produce Recycled Tote Bag

Freitag

Swiss recycled bag manufacturer Freitag is teaming up with the Tate Modern to produce a reusable tote bag made from recycled exhibition banners.

Freitagbags_2 The bags are expected to be highly sought after when they go on sale later this month at the Tate Modern.  Unlike other Freitag bags which sell for several hundred dollars these will sell for about $60 US (£30).

"Our objective is to appeal to a wide audience. We don't want to price people out," said Tate Modern's Helena Lawrence.

However, while the price tag may be accessible, the collection's limited number (170) ensures that the bags will retain the exclusivity of their designer label.

Freitag's innovative designs have been growing in popularity since 1993, when the company launched the first bag to be made entirely from recycled materials.

Inspired by the Zurich transport route that passed by their house, design duo Markus and Daniel Freitag created their famous messenger bag entirely from truck tarpaulins, inner tubes and seat belts. Markus Freitag hopes that their new art bags will appeal to "an open-minded urban crowd. People who like to see things from a different point of view, and explore new things".

Freitag and Tate Modern are already considering new lines incorporating the works of other artists. "We are looking at expanding the range, but obviously it will depend on the materials available," said Helena Lawrence.

Indeed, it was these practical considerations that resulted in Constable et al being used over other artists for the initial collection, which has been in development since 2005. "We didn't choose the artists as such; we just used the exhibition banners and other publicity banners we had available," Ms Lawrence said.

These exhibition banners were then coated with the tarpaulin that usually covers lorries, and fashioned into large shopping bags. The resulting designs are functional, robust and waterproof, with no two bags alike.

via the independent

August 02, 2007

Target Stores New Mirel Bioplastic Gift Card

TargetbioTarget stores have introduced a new gift card made from a bioplastic called Mirel.  The gift card is biodegradable and made from natural sources. 

The new biobased gift cards are available at 129 Target stores across the country.

Mirel is a new family of biobased plastics made from corn that provides an alternative to traditional, petroleum-based plastics. Unlike conventional plastics, Mirel biodegrades in a variety of environments including soil, home compost, wetlands, rivers and oceans   

The biobased plastic is made by Telles, a company formed between Cambridge Massachusetts, Metabolix and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM).  Telles is a 50-50 joint venture between the two companies.   

Telles is currently working with more than 50 prospects on more than 70 applications, including consumer products, packaging, single-use disposables, and products used in agriculture and erosion control.

July 25, 2007

Estee Lauder Builds Natural Brands Portfolio with Acquistion of Hair Care Company Ojon

Ojon1 Estee Lauder acquires Canadian natural hair care company, Ojon.  Buying into the brand taps into the fast-growing market for premium hair care products containing exotic natural ingredients. Ojon products benefit from ingredients collected by the Tawira, an indigenous people from the Central American rainforests, mainly inhabitants of Honduras.

The Tawira produce Ojon palm nut oil, an ingredient derived from the Ojon tree and one that is said to strengthen, moisturize, bring shine and reduce hair follicle breakage - forming the basis of the company's hair care range.

To source its ingredients, Ojon has partnered with the Mosquitia Pawisa Agency for the Development of the Honduras Mosquitia (MOPAWI Organization), a local non-profit group that works on behalf of indigenous communities in the region. Through its contract with the MOPAWI, Ojon purchases wild-crafted palm nut oil and other ingredients from thousands of Tawira producers, who collect the ingredients in a hand-crafted process consistent with ancestral practices.

The ingredients, largely palm oil and cacao, are then sent to Originitalia, a plant in northern Italy, where they are purified and blended into Ojon products.

"Natural and organic products are among the fastest growing areas in the beauty industry and Ojon has a compelling story that we believe should resonate with consumers globally," said Philip Shearer, Group President of The Estee Lauder Companies.

"Ojon is a terrific strategic fit in our portfolio," William P. Lauder, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Estee Lauder Companies, said. "It's a socially responsible, innovative company with potential for rapid and sustained world-wide growth. We envision Ojon eventually becoming a global brand of wild-crafted, natural products made with ingredients found in indigenous communities around the world."

Ojon Ojon's range includes shampoos, conditioners and other treatments that focus on treating dry or out-of-condition, by restoring its moisture levels and in turn returning shine and texture to the hair.  It includes a restorative hair treatment, ultra-hydrating conditioner and shampoo and a shine and protection glossing mist.

"I have been in the business 18 years and have always looked at Estée Lauder as the most prestigious cosmetic company," said Ojon founder & president Denis Simioni. "Ojon is like my child that grew up too fast and now needs a great university to take it to the next stages of its life. We believe that Estée Lauder will do that for Ojon by educating us and giving us what we need to take us to the next level. It doesn't get any better than this!"

Before the Estee Lauder deal Ojon was a privately held company based in Burlington Ontario with $48 million in revenue, said Simioni, who will remain president of the company.

Currently Ojon sells its products on QVC in the US and UK and the Shopping Channel in Canada, where it ranks number one in hair care as well as Sephora and Nordstrom and about 300 hundred spas and salons.

The Ojon line is similar in many ways to another Estee Lauder brand, Aveda.  It will be interesting to see what influence if any John Delfausse, Vice President, Package Development at Estée Lauder has on future packaging design of Ojon products.  Delfausse is widely credited with transforming Aveda's packaging into one of the most sustainable in the industry.

July 23, 2007

Reusablebags.com Acme Bags Recycled PET Plastic Tote A Winner

Acm042 Chicago-based Reusable Bags recently introduced a new reusable tote bag in its Acme Bags line made from recycled #1 PET plastic.  The bag is a perfect example of a forward thinking product that covers all the bases in terms of functionality and style.

Unlike many earth friendly reusable tote bags and other reusable bags that aren't so earth friendly this bag shines in all the right areas.  It is made from 98% post-consumer recycled content.  The bag is made of a lightweight, durable soft fabric made from recycled #1 PET (PETE) plastic.  The manufacturer says the fabric used to produce each of these bags reclaims about 10 recycled plastic bottles/containers. 

Recycled PET is a durable, eco-friendly fabric made from post consumer recycled plastic bottles & containers.  In the U.S. alone over 45 billion plastic containers end up in landfills in 2006.  Choosing products made from recycled PET promotes a more sustainable path for plastic.

Approximately 31% of plastic bottles produced in the United States are made from a material called PolyEthylene Terephtalate, "PET" or "PETE."  Usually clear or green, the plastic is mostly used for consumer goods such as soda bottles and food jars. According to the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), in 2005 United States manufacturers produced 5.075 billion pounds of PET products. Such a high production rate makes finding uses for post-consumer plastics imperative. If the current rate of manufacturing and consumer recycling remains, 40 billion pounds of PET waste will be added to our landfills within only a decade.

I have two of these Acme recycled PET bags and I have tried numerous reusable bags over the last few years and I can say these are the best most functional ones I have used.  These bags are set apart from other reusable bags because they incorporate an element of style often lacking from other bags.  The end result is a bag that consumers will use for years due to the durability and style of the product.

July 19, 2007

Ford using New Foam Containing Soybeans in 2008 Mustang Seats

Fordsoy Ford Motor Co. will put a new foam that is 40% soybean-based / 60% petroleum-based in the seats of its new 2008 Mustang.  The automaker may expand usage of the new foam to more '08 model year cars as well.   

Ford is teaming up with automotive seat manufacturer Lear Corp. to install the seats at a joint Mazda-Ford factory in Michigan where the Mustang is made.

Ford and Lear collaborated with the United Soybean Board - New Uses Committee (a group of 64 farmers and agriculture industry leaders), Urethane Soy Systems Company, Bayer Corporation and Renosol Corporation on soy-foam development.

Most automakers use petroleum-based foam, with an average of 14 kilograms going into each vehicle, Ford said.

The annual worldwide market for automotive foam is four billion kilograms, so a switch to a renewable material may have a significant environmental impact.

Ford said the environmental advantages include reduced carbon dioxide emissions in manufacturing compared to petroleum-based foam, lower energy use to produce the soy foam and reduced dependence on foreign oil.

July 18, 2007

360 Vodka World's First Environmentally-friendly Vodka

Vodka
360 Vodka is billed as the world's first environmentally-friendly vodka.  A title the newcomer to the adult beverage marketplace appears to deserve.

The Missouri-based company uses locally grown grains for the production of 360 Vodka resulting in reduced fossil fuel consumption in transporting raw materials to the distillery.   The company also uses a variety of advanced filtration and drying processes which they claim make their operation highly efficient reducing their overall carbon footprint.

Vodkapackaging_3 The packaging of 360 Vodka is highly impressive.  Focusing on packaging design as I often do I have to say this company has covered nearly all the bases in terms of making their product packaging eco-friendly.

Their glass bottle is made from 85% recycled glass, 75% of which is post-consumer. 

360 Vodka uses New Leaf Paper products for its labeling, packaging and promotional materials.  The paper is 100% recycled and is printed with water based inks.

Perhaps most innovative is the box their vodka is shipped in.  The shipping box is made of 100% recycled cardboard and is designed to be re-used by consumers.  The box is designed with handles on the sides and can be used for storage, filing, stacking and moving.  I think their box design is ingenious and it shows the company recognizes how often liquor boxes are used for moving and storage by consumers. 

Vodkamail_2 The company goes a step further - they have developed a return program for the bottle closures on the top of their bottles.  Consumers can use a postage-paid return process to send back their bottle closures enabling infinite re-use of them by the company.  In addition 360 Vodka will donate $1 for each closure returned to an environmental cause.

360 Vodka's web site is powered by renewable energy.  Their Vodka is available in the United States.

July 17, 2007

Crate & Barrel Banks on Furniture to Enhance its Greenness

Lockport_2 Crate & Barrel is making some significant green steps with its furniture.  Is anyone noticing? 

The Lockport line consisting of a chair & sofa are examples.  The line is made for Crate & Barrel by North Carolina-based Lee Furniture.  Both items feature the "Natural Lee Package" which includes a number of eco-friendly processes and components.  Just like the ecotainer coffee cup, several companies are involved in making Crate & Barrel's furniture a reality.

Crate & Barrel's Lockport Sofa & Chairs are filled with Preserve™, a flexible polyurethane foam that utlizies BiOH polyol derived from soybeans.  The foam developed by Cargill replaces 20% of the petroleum-based foam and outperforms traditional foam in firmness, retention, support and durability.

Other components of the furniture include wood frames constructed from panels bonded with soy-based resins, replacing formaldehyde-based resins.  Panels used by Lee are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.  Wood used in the furniture is certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Rainforest Alliance.

The back cushions and throw pillows are made of 100% recycled fibers from soda bottles.  Seat deck and trim pads are made up of 80% regenerated fibers that consist of virgin and waste fibers.

Water based finishes are used on the wood frame and upholstery fabrics are woven from organic fibers and chemical free cotton. 

While Crate & Barrel does promote the environmental benefits of this furniture they could do more.  Most of the information obtained for this story was through the manufacturer not Crate & Barrel. 

It is interesting to me to have a product like this featured but not cover all the aspects of the product design.  Consumers who are interested in this type of product are more prone than any other segment of the buying population to spend time researching a product's greenness.  Most do not have several days to contact manufacturers and sift through information.

July 14, 2007

RCA Triples Energy Star Qualified Products; Reduces Packaging

Electronics maker RCA has tripled the number of Energy Star qualified models from 2006 to 2007.

Each model consumes less than 1 Watt in standby mode to meet the ENERGY STAR® program standards. RCA plans to improve the increasing number of Energy Star qualified models each year; not simply complying with expectations, but going beyond what is required to save energy.  The company has also created a guide for consumers, RCA Energy Savers that features its Energy Star products.

Packaging RCA also plans to save 450 tons of plastic in the next two years by making smaller, environmentally-friendly paper gift box containers that will replace the older clamshell packages. This initiative called “Smart Packing” has already saved over 81 tons of extra plastic.

Looking ahead, RCA plans to continue reducing plastic by using eco-friendly and chemical-free materials to help design and develop products and packaging. In the next two years, the goal is to reduce plastic weight by more than 200 tons in 2007 and by more than 230 tons in 2008.

Smart Packing reduces the overall size of packaging while increasing cardboard usage and minimizing the usage of environmentally harmful materials.  As part of the initiative the company has reduced the overall size of their product packaging, saving both materials and energy.  RCA also notes its packages are easier for consumers to open.

June 26, 2007

L.L. Bean Drops Longtime Catalog Printer Verso Paper over Recycling and Sustainability Issues Signs New Deal with Quad/Graphics

Llbean

L.L. Bean has dropped its longtime catalog printer Verso Paper after the company was unable to meet Bean's new guidelines for recycled content and sustainable forestry practices.  Verso Paper is a leading provider of paper for catalogs and was created when International Paper sold its coated papers business to Apollo Management.

Llbeancatalogs_2 L.L. Bean signed a multi-year, multi-million-dollar agreement with Wisconsin-based Quad/Graphics.  The multifaceted printing and related services contract begins in January 2008 with the company becoming the exclusive printer and prepress provider for all  L.L. Bean catalogs.  L.L. Bean produces more than 65 catalog titles and ships 250 million catalogs annually.

Quad/Graphics has a "chain-of-custody" certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).  Their clients may display the FSC trademarked "checkmark and tree" logo in their magazines, catalogs and other materials printed on FSC-certified paper.

The goals L.L. Bean set that Verso Paper was apparently unable to meet include the following; by 2008 90% of the fiber used in their catalogs must either be certified under one of the certification systems they recognize (FSC, SFI, CSA, PEFC, ATFS, MLP) or be recycled fiber.  As far as recycled content goes the company is transitioning all catalogs to 20% Post-Consumer Waste recycled content starting in 2008.   

Webextra
Read more about L.L. Bean's paper policy here

June 16, 2007

Designer of Procter & Gamble's Swiffer Responds to Claims the Product isn't Sustainable

Swiffer
The designer of Swiffer, Gianfranco Zaccai takes a very direct matter of fact approach when he assesses an item in terms of sustainability. 

“We need to find the best thing to do that many people will do—because it’s enjoyable, beneficial, and engaging for them—and that is economically viable. Unfortunately, human beings have a difficult time seeing the relationship between their behavior and its effects if those effects are too distant in time or space. So people may pay lip service to more eco-friendly behavior—public transportation, for example—but unless that behavior provides short-term gratification, it is not likely to be sustainable,” said Zaccai

Zaccai is the president and CEO of Continuum, the company that designed the Swiffer for Procter & Gamble.  He was recently interviewed by Inhabitant in response to a piece they wrote questioning the sustainability of the Swiffer.

Zaccai raises some very interesting questions in terms of sustainability and mainstream consumers.  His basic argument is that if people won't use a product it doesn't matter how green or eco-friendly it is.  Sometimes its a balancing act for product designers and R&D departments to figure out what type of product a consumer will actually use. 

He said product designers need to focus on three main areas in their design.   (1) carefully analyze the real environmental impact of some activity—anything from taking a bath to generating power, (2) understand what human values and desires are involved in that activity, and (3) find the elegant solution that provides greater value—that means greater physical, emotional, and social satisfaction as well as greater economic benefit—while avoiding harm to the environment as much as possible.

{via} Inhabitant

June 09, 2007

Sony Developing odo A New Line of Eco-Electronics

Odosony
stiven over at Sustainableday ran an interesting piece the other day on a new line of products called odo that Sony is developing.

There are a lot of conceptual solar powered cell phone prototypes and hand cranked chargers popping up in response to the strong consumer interest in more environmentally responsible products but in general consumer electronics usually lag behind in the development of green alternatives. In todays world where large OEM’s usually handle most of the manufacturing even for competing corporations, it’s very difficult for a company to deviate from the standard commodity electronic parts such as LCD screens and rechargeable batteries and still stay price competitive in this market.

Sony, traditionally has been a leader in paradigm shifting technology with their large research and innovation design budgets all though they have lost a lot of ground in the last 5-7 years to companies like Apple and Phillips. Today Sony looks to regain some of that innovation leadership through the development of their fresh out of the oven “odo” concept line of environmentally friendly products. The “odo” line of products do not require any AC adapters or chargers because they are mechanically powered. There is the Spin N’ Snap camera “no display”, the Push Power Play viewer, the Crank N’ Capture video camps, the Pull N’ Play headphones, and the solar array Juice Boxes for powering other devices.

My favorite hand cranked consumer electronic product continues to be the first version of the OLPC but with Sony coming into the picture, it probably wont be long before we can actually buy a human powered consumer electronic product.

via sustainableday

May 29, 2007

Increasing Numbers of Americans Buying Manual Reel Lawn Mowers

Reelmower

American Lawn Mower Co. is noticing increasing sales of its manual reel lawn mowers.  The Indiana-based company is the only US manufacturer of the manual lawn mowers (they produce mowers for several other brands and their own label).

According the the AP roughly 350,000 manual reel mowers are sold annually in the US, compared to 6 million gas powered.

Buyers and sellers alike say the resurgence of these mowers is due most notably to growing environmental concerns and an increasing number of women who do the mowing.

"We noticed very quickly that two out of three people buying manual mowers were female," said Terry Jarvis, president of Sunlawn Inc., a Fort Collins, Colo.-based company that's been selling the mowers for 10 years and making its own for two.

Another interesting sales trend related to manual lawn mowers is many consumers are buying them online because they aren't often easy to find.  Retailers are catching on to this growing trend as  the mowers are now starting to appear again in hardware stores across the country. 

Buying a manual lawn mower online is easy.  A quick search on Amazon.com yields a number of models available for around $100 including several American Lawn Mower company products like the American Lawn Mower Company 18-Inch Reel Mower. Several customers mentioned Amazon has the best selection.  "You can't buy directly from Great States/American Lawn Mower and Amazon has the best selection," said J.M. Cranford.