This could be the ultimate in design-for-recyclability: a team of students from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have designed a teddy bear made entirely from PET. The toy, dubbed the "Sustain-a-Bear," recently won first prize in the 2009 Manufacturing Student Design Competition held by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. "Sustain-a-Bear is inexpensive to produce, easy to assemble, fully recyclable, and undeniably cuddly," according to a news release from the school. Instead of stitching it together, this politically correct bear is designed to be assembled using ultrasonic welding. "This lack of adhesives and stitching, paired with the fact that the bear is stuffed with scraps of the same fleece from which its exterior is made, means a Sustain-a-Bear at the end of its days can be tossed in the recycling bin and easily find a second life as brand-new bear. (Or maybe a soda bottle.)," the release says. The group is pursuing full patent protection, with an eye toward eventually commercializing or licensing the product. "The teddy bear market is huge, and despite all the billions of dollars of sales every year, no one has really looked into manufacturing stuffed animals in a sustainable way," said mechanical engineering doctoral student Christina Laskowski, who was part of the team. "It's hard to know what to do with old teddy bears, because they're difficult to clean, they get damaged when you wash them, and they usually end up in a landfill," said Todd Snelson, another doctoral student who was part of the team. "We wanted to make a bear that didn't end up in landfills, something that still had utility at the end of its product life."
Sustain-a-Bear, the all-PET stuffed animal
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