Rachel Riddle – Week 15
Using waste to manufacture new materials to reuse is great; however, if these new materials can’t be recycled, or more specifically up-cycled, after they are used won’t there still be a waste problem? This is why enabling a circular economy is so crucial in order to ensure a more sustainable future. This can be achieved by designing sustainable buildings and products that are cradle-to-cradle compliant.
Noble Environment’s new building material, Ecor, developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is 100% bio-based, 100% comprised of recycled waste materials, and 100% recyclable, and it has the potential to recreate everlasting raw materials and eliminate waste. Ecor is an advanced environmental composite panel that is formed from the conversion of cellulose fiber, pressure, and heat, and this fiber-based waste can consist of office paper, cardboard, recycled fabrics, wood dust and trimmings, and many other waste products. The company says Ecor can be used as a sustainable alternative to wood, composites, aluminum, and plastics. This material can also be engineered into a variety of shapes for different applications making its possibilities very diverse, exciting, and endless.
Some concerns I initially had after reading about this material was related to Ecor’s strength and cost; however, after further research another source stated that Ecor is 30% denser than medium density fiberboard, which means it is more durable and will last longer, and the panels are low in cost, because of the low raw material costs (even negative cost) due to the fact that the raw materials are waste. Google, Whole Foods and Toms Shoes are among the companies already using Ecor — Whole Food has used Ecor for signage, Google used Ecor for wavy interior panels and Toms’ for shoe hangers, and I think it would be interesting to see Starbucks partner with this company as well. Starbucks could recycle their coffee grounds and cups and convert it into signage, more cups, and furniture for example. It would be amazing if the furniture you were using in Starbucks was made from recycled coffee grounds. Ecor has the ability to generate sizable economic and socially accretive returns.