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Ecospan expands line of bioplastic cases

By: Mike Verespej

October 9, 2012

GREENBRAE, CALIF. (Oct. 9, 12:50 p.m. ET) — Buoyed by its success in making customer-specific bioplastic product shipping cases, bioresin materials science company Ecospan LLC has introduced several standard-sized bio-based reusable shipping containers that it believes will help retailers and manufacturers reduce both costs and product damages.

One global global smart phone customer in Asia, for example, that switched from a cardboard-based to a bio-based package developed by Ecospan is “saving $21 million annually,” said Ecospan President Jeff White. “If we could do it for them, then we figured there were many other retailers and manufacturers that could stand to benefit as well.”

The Ecospan BioFlow shipping enclosure cases come in three sizes—3.1 inches x 1.5 inches, 6.1 inches by 3.75 inches and 12.5 inches by 10.3 inches. They are designed to carry handheld devices, mobile phones, GPS consoles, cameras and other high-value consumer products as well as for business-to-business shipping applications between labs and dentists, optometrists and jewelers, for example.

Each shipping enclosure case is designed for up to 15-20 transport cycles. At end of life, the cases are recycled and shredded into recycled resins that are used to make more cases.

“Sustainable applications in reverse logistics are now ... both possible and profitable,” said White. “Our pre-sized, off-the-shelf shipping containers make it easy for businesses to make ... significant ROI [return on investment] on a product returns process that was once a costly burden.”

According to Ecospan, 4-6 percent of all retail purchases are returned each year, costing retailers and manufacturers of consumer electronics $13.8 billion in product returns alone and $40 billion in lost revenues.

The cost from those product returns alone equal nearly 3 percent of revenue for the average retailer, and nearly 6 percent for the average consumer electronics equipment manufacturer, Ecospan said.

Each shipping case has a hinge, a living latching engagement and security system with black being the standard color. The cases are made from an Ecospan proprietary BioFlow plant-based moldable material that is moisture-resistant and break-resistant.

Ecospan said that more than 12 million of its custom-made bioplastic shipping cases have been placed in circulation just in the past year alone.

The Greenbrae, Calif., company was one of the four clean-tech companies on the 2012 Red Herring magazine list of Top 100 privately held, innovative companies that was released earlier this year.