Preserve: Disrupting product design status quo, holding earth in highest regard

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<p><span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 115%; font-family: ">I got a chance to speak with Eric Hudson, founder and CEO of Recycline, the parent company behind Preserve, to learn more about his unique environmentally focused consumer products company. In the early 90's Hudson wanted to start a company that would "treat earth's resources as respectfully, responsibly and efficiently" as possible. At the time recycling was becoming more mainstream, but he noticed that people were getting frustrated that they couldn&rsquo;t discern whether their efforts really mattered. Twelve years ago, Hudson set out to boost the recycling industry by introducing innovative, high quality, often reusable products made of 100% recycled plastic.<br /> <br /> Recycline's first product was the Preserve toothbrush, a case study in groundbreaking innovation. Why a toothbrush? Toothbrushes should be replaced every 3 months, and we should all be using them. That's a lot of waste at the population level. The Preserve toothbrush is made of 100% recycled plastic including Stonyfield Farm yogurt cups and Preserve encourages customers to return the brushes to the company when their usable life has passed, where they will be carefully disassembled and ground up to be reused as plastic lumber for products like park benches. Preserve continues to improve even its tried and true products &ndash; they are currently looking into packaging the toothbrush in a mailback container for simpler return.<br /> <br /> Since the debut of the toothbrush, Preserve has come out with a razor, a set of tableware and most recently an aesthetically pleasing kitchen ware collection, which includes colorful mixing bowls, colanders, food storage containers and two types of cutting boards &ndash; one made from recycled plastic, the other from recycled paper. Needless to say, all products are made from 100% recycled plastic and 100% post-consumer recycled paper. <br /> <br /> Hudson sees his core customers as "dark greens" who've been with him for years, as well as a growing pool of environmentally conscious Americans. He cites that ~75 million American consumers are looking for greener product alternatives, and 45 million of those Americans will cite the environment as one of their most important buying criteria. Not surprisingly then, from an addressable market standpoint, green products hold massive potential. That said, few companies are as dedicated to true green product design as Preserve.<br /> <br /> Recycline has been very successful. They've had two profitable years, which ain't bad for a start-up that has been revolutionizing green product design. Internally, the firm has been successful as well, Hudson notes &ndash; "Everyone here enjoys what we're doing&hellip;people have good benefits&hellip;we respect employees as family members&hellip;and we've seen profits for our shareholders." Despite recent interest from manufacturing, consumer products, and investment firms, funding has come mainly from individual investors, through equity offerings every 18 months. Hudson is the largest among 43 shareholders. <br /> <br /> According to Hudson, the greatest opportunities available to Preserve lie in terrific eco-centric product design and broadening distribution and reach. Preserve seeks to influence the way consumers think about the products they buy and the expectations they have of those products. Preserve believes that consumers should be offered a transparent view of the supply chain and know what materials products made from, how they&rsquo;re made, how they&rsquo;re packaged, and what is supposed to happen to them at the end of their life. To that end, Preserve tirelessly studies the environmental impact of its products. "When we grind up yogurt cups to make products, we make sure that it makes more environmental sense than sourcing virgin plastics. We do our own lifecycle assessments. We refer to EPA studies as well. And we've proved we are using significantly less energy than if we used virgin materials."<br /> <br /> Recycline's long term vision involves three tenets: 1) Continue to develop groundbreaking products. 2) "Be green to the bone" in all operations and production. 3) Be successful in sharing profit with shareholders and health and wealth to employees. Hudson could not share with me the new developments they have in the pipeline, but be sure to look out for new products and old in your local Target, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods markets. <br /> <br /> I asked Hudson what keeps him inspired day-to-day and his reply: "It's not hard. I love coming to Recycline. We are a fantastic team. I think we really enjoy working together. It's pretty inspiring and exciting to come to Recycline. We think we have a lot of fantastic opportunities to continue to groundbreak and disrupt current thinking and seek to do things differently, taking earth as the number one factor in mind. We're loving it."</span><em><span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 115%; font-family: "><br /> <br /> Amie Vaccaro is an Associate with Social Venture Technology Group and is interested in environmental entrepreneurism and sustainable innovation. You can read her blog, ecofrenzy, which is focused on green business happenings and related ommentary.</span></em><span style="font-family: "></span></p>