Makers of America’s first molded paper bottle

Over 125 billion rigid plastic containers are produced and consumed in the US every year, but according to the EPA only 28% are recycled with the rest piling up in landfills and oceans. There is an undeniable packaging waste problem in today’s society, which suggests that innovation opportunities are plenty in the packaging industry.

Ecologic Brands is an Oakland, CA-based sustainable packaging startup known for creating America’s first molded paper bottle, which consists of an outer shell made with 100% recycled cardboard and newspapers, integrated with a thin inner pouch, made with up to 70% less plastic than traditional plastic bottles. Post-use, the outer shell can be composted or recycled with paper, and the inner pouch can be recycled with #4 plastic.

Closed loop model

Beyond the package itself, which offers clear on-shelf differentiation, Ecologic Brands’ molded paper bottle was actually designed as a system to facilitate sustainable practices on the back-end. It aims to address challenges across the entire supply chain for brands and retailers. The Ecologic bottle is the first to provide a truly closed loop system whereby secondary corrugate packaging waste is up-cycled into a re-recyclable bottle through the following process:

  1. Ecologics’s raw material inputs come from old corrugated cardboard (OCC, or recycled cardboard)
  2. Ecologic converts or up cycles this into bottles, bypassing paper mills and other industrial processing facilities
  3. The shells are shipped nested, enabling 6 times more bottles to be shipped per truckload as unassembled components compared to blow molded rigid plastic bottles
  4. After use, the bottles can be recycled again, composted, or, if they are discarded in trash, reduce landfill waste

Shipping efficiencies

The Ecologic bottles enable customers to increase shipping efficiencies, reduce their carbon footprint, and save on truck loads, gas, shipping materials and storage. Because the pre-assembled outer shells nest inside one another during shipping, and the pouches take up less room on a truck, you can fit up to 6 times more unassembled Ecologic bottles onto a truck than empty rigid plastic bottles.

The ecologic bottle also represents up to 30% in material weight savings vs. rigid plastic containers.

End of life

A key motivation behind Ecologic’s decision to leverage recycled paper as a primary package ingredient is recyclability. Only 28% of rigid plastic bottles are recycled in America vs. over 80% of paper. By using a more highly recycled material for the majority of the container’s weight, Ecologic increases the chance the container is recycled. The lightweight inner plastic liner uses up to 70% less plastic and is fully recyclable with grocery bags at retailer drop-off bins. This is an advancement vs. conventional laminated pouches, which are not typically recyclable.

Every empty Ecologic bottle is 100% recyclable in three easy steps – users simply pop it open along the side seam, remove the inner pouch from the outer shell and recycle or compost. The outer shell can be recycled with paper in curbside and drop-off recycling programs. The inner pouch and spout are #4 LDPE plastic and can be recycled with plastic grocery bags at local retailers’ bins.

The eco.bottle® line now consists of a 32oz and 50oz laundry bottle and a 3L wide mouth canister with more shapes and sizes in development to further disrupt the packaging industry.


Why California is home to Ecologic Brands

Ecologic Brands was founded by an Oakland mother of two, Julie Corbett. Julie chose to stay in Oakland because the city is a hotbed for progressive thinkers and innovation. Companies like Pandora Radio, Revolutions Foods, Bright Source Energy, and now Ecologic are pushing the envelope in their respective businesses and are attracting the talent they need in Oakland. Ecologic sees Oakland emerging as an offshoot of Silicon Valley for Clean Tech, Health and Wellness, and Sustainability. They are currently in the process of building their first full-scale production facility in Northern California, set to go online in July 2013.

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