by Jen Pennington
Precor, a Premium Fitness Equipment company based in Woodinville, recently found a match with Upcycle Goods to turn discarded treadmill belts into luxury recycled laptop bags. Thanks to the efforts of the Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability and Co-director Mary Rose, UpCycle Goods will be able to take Precor’s steady stream of belts, which normally were slated for the landfill, and turn them into a beautiful, useful product. A company that specializes in creating artful bags made from recycled materials, Upcycle Goods recently completed their first laptop case prototype. The slick looking envelope-like bag features beautiful stitching, closures, and a pocket for business cards. Because the material is so strong, it makes for a very durable case.
The belts were originally advertised in the NBIS-run Materials Marketplace section of the Materials Innovation Exchange website (materialsinnovationexchange.com). Rose saw the ad and used her industrial strength matchmaking abilities to bring the two companies together. While the Precor/Upcycle Goods deal was being developed, Rose found an interim use for the belts: 25 have been distributed to farmers on Vashon Island, WA for pathways between garden beds.
“The defining difference between our Materials Innovation Exchange and other more passive exchange sites is that NBIS uses our network of members and social media to get the word out and help find homes for various goods. We also share stories of how people are using materials in our Innovation Zone to spark creativity in reusing valuable materials and reducing waste.” said Rose. “We’re here to help”, she continues, “often company staff want to see these materials and items being used, but they don’t have the time or connections to search out a match. Posting on the Materials Innovation Exchange is an easy first step. Then we pick up the ball and facilitate personal connections through our network.”
Exchanges like this are part of the By-Product Synergy NW (BPS NW) programs Rose runs with her co-director partner, Karl Ostrom. BPS NW brings together a cross-section of industrial businesses to make these connections happen. Together they have facilitated many synergies for various companies across Washington State. In the process NBIS has helped divert tons of waste from landfill and worked with companies to turn their waste to profit.
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