by MATT GALLAGHER, Red Herring
In the world of bio-based plastic, Ecospan not only closes the loop, producing a solid, industry-suited plastic from 100 percent natural materials, but it does so at a cost efficiency that more than pays for itself in the end.
Using bio-based, petroleum-free materials, the company produces a material strong enough to be used in packaging, electronics, smart phone accesssories, cable modems and routers, disk drives, cosmetics, toys and even tooth brushes. Instead of a biodegradable approach, the company focuses on durable goods that can be reused a number of times before being completely recycled and used again. It provides a core strength of materials unmatched by competitors, allowing it to enter industries traditionally not served by bio-based plastic companies.
“Because our material is so rugged and strong, we can hit temperatures and ruggedness no one else can in the bio plastics industry,” said Jeff White, President of Ecospan. “We can get into high end consumer applications, whether it be electronics or home furnishings. We can mold our products in ways and shapes that can’t be done with traditional bio-based materials. People in the industry cannot believe what we do until they actually see it.”
While the company’s shipping materials tend to cost more than competitive alternatives, their strength allows for greater use, effectively allowing a 5 to 1 savings when used repeatedly. Instead of paying a cost disposal rate, its customers can create a completely closed loop recycled system that becomes a cost savings to their business.
“We provide our customers with a cost savings instead of a cost of disposal. We do it for free, and may even provide credits back,” White said. “Our customers actually make money by being sustainable and green.”
The company’s green energy approach grows like money on trees at a 200 to 300 percent annual growth rate. It started with its first customer in its first year, adding a handful of companies the following, and now serves a dozen clients that are rapidly expanding. Ecospan’s customers span the world on four continents, with production facilities in the US and Asia, and a certified partner in Europe that continues to fuel its expansion.
As bio-plastics become more profit incentive, the world of green energy will change, and quickly, White said.
“You’re going to see change very quickly for applications that benefit the end brand companies doing it,” White said. “Eco-friendly sustainability helps get people into our door, but in the end its our cost competition that seals the deal.”