Creative Thinkers

Aladdin takes an eco crisis and turns it around
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Aladdin takes an eco crisis and turns it around

Creative thinking. That’s a key part of being green. Here is an example.

Yesterday, I was at REI in Seattle, Washington, where I had the pleasure of meeting up Carol Schreitmueller, director of research and development, and one of the lead sustainability experts at Stanley and Aladdin. Stanley and Aladdin make thermoses (yes, those blue green ones ubiquitous at construction sites), and now they also make waterbottles, reusable coffee mugs, and smaller, lighter thermoses, many with a green story.

Last year when the BPA scare hit, REI pulled over 100,000 polycarbonate bottles from a dozen different brands from their shelves and the question was what to do with the discards. REI didn’t want to throw them in the landfill. Carol, today’s featured creative thinker, came up with a solution. She turned those waterbottles into the outsides of a new mug for REI, giving REI a sleek new product to sell, with a green story.

This great new mug made with REI’s discontinued polycarbonate water bottles, is designed so that the recycled polycarbonate material is on the outside surface and doesn’t come in contact with food or beverages. The lid and inside liner are made from recycled polypropylene, a BPA-free plastic. The finished mug contains 85% recycled plastic and 30% post-consumer recycled content.

“As we made the decision to discontinue sales, our teams were committed to ensuring that the unused bottles would not go to a landfill,” says David Fieth, REI product manager for camp. “Using this approach, and working with others such as Aladdin to make changes that are better for the environment, are consistent with REI’s commitment of addressing the full lifecycle of products.”

How did it work?

REI transported 100,000 polycarbonate water bottles (28,000 lbs) via seven railroad cards to Aladdin’s recycling facility. At the recycling facility, the polycarbonate bottles were dismantled and sorted by type. Lid lanyards and packaging was recycled. All materials that could be were diverted from landfills. The polycarbonate was ground up, melted down and molded. The result: The Aladdin eCycle Recycled and Repurposed Travel mug, available for $14.95 at REI.

Thanks, Carol, for being creative and always innovating.