Three U.S. companies have formed a partnership to produce eco-friendly products, the latest being an innovative rainwater-collection system that not only preserves water but also features a low carbon footprint.
The RainStore rain barrel by NextLife LLC uses at least 40 percent recycled post-consumer plastic and is manufactured in the United States. Combined with its water-saving functionality, the product has garnered two Housewares Design Awards during the International Home + Housewares Show, held March 14-16 in Chicago. The RainStore received the Greenhouse Award for eco-conscious design and the Best in Category for home organization, lighting and outdoor living segment.
The product features a rectangular shape that allows it to sit flush against a house under a downspout to collect rain water and recycle it for watering plants, washing cars or other purposes.
With a self-watering planter on the top of the unit, the rain barrel holds up to 50 gallons of water and claims the largest overflow outlet in the industry. The matching pedestal ensures optimal water flow from the brass hose fitting, according to Boca Raton, Fla.-based NextLife.
Sean Kerrigan, NextLife's senior vice president of marketing and corporate development, said the product is rotational molded with polyethylene by Cascade Engineering Inc. of Grand Rapids, Mich. NextLife's sister company, Mountain Valley Recycling LLC, will supply the recycled resin through its recycling facility in Morristown, Tenn.
The companies said the RainStore is a product of synergy.
NextLife brought strong marketing, retail knowledge and the sustainability certification. Cascade brought engineering and manufacturing, said Michael Lewis with Cascade Engineering's new business development. Mountain Valley provided a consistent stream of high-quality recycled materials.
Lewis noted that domestic manufacturing is becoming an important part of sustainability initiatives.
We hear a lot of 'Made in America' I think a lot of that has to go along with the sustainability message now. Instead of shipping products all the way from China, it's better to make them here to keep the carbon footprint low.
In addition to its own products, NextLife also offers product life-cycle assessment and green certification services to other manufacturers and brand owners. The company has partnered with Ciba Expert Services and applies Ciba's seven standards of sustainability in its analysis, including the integration of recycled/sustainable materials, carbon-footprint reduction, sustainable quality and performance, packaging and communication, supporting domestic economy, renewable energy credits and recycling initiative.
We are trying to provide some clarity in all the noise and green-washing, Kerrigan said.
His company is doing that by, among other things, clearly labeling environmental facts including the carbon footprint, consumed electricity and water, and recycled content on consumer products.
Kerrigan displayed a coinjected EcoCart waste cart at his company's booth at the housewares show as an example. Pointing to the eco-label on the EcoCart by NextLife and Cascade Engineering, he explained: This product contains 25 percent of recycled plastic, used 1 kilowatt-hour of energy and a half gallon of water, and emitted 10 grams of carbon dioxide during production.
NextLife also is working with Dell Inc. to remanufacture ink cartridges that are compatible with Hewlett-Packard, Canon, Epson and Lexmark inkjet printers.
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