ReBinder in Washington Manufacturer Alert

Washington Manufacturer Alert did a great article on ReBinder recently. The article is reprinted in its entirety below with permission from Washington Manufacturer Alert. Our Favorite Quote:

“We would argue that no company is a green company. They are simply a company. The only way a difference will ever really be made by responsible products is when they sit on the same shelves, for the same price as the other choices. It's time to stop crying foul at industry and (realize that) industry is the catalyst to change. Get good at it, or get comfortable at the kids table, where you'll have little impact on what's served for dinner. Responsible companies choose ReBinder to align message, mission and budget. If one of those is missing, then it's going to be a long road for makers of responsible products.”

ReBinder Offers A Replacement For Plastic CD Cases

A Seattle company that makes office products – ranging from three-ring binders to presentation folders and notebooks – out of recycled and recyclable materials has landed a distribution agreement with a major office-supplies wholesaler. The agreement is for a line of cardboard cases and sleeves to hold CDs, DVDs and computer disks. ReSleeve and RePlay are part of the product portfolio at ReBinder, a company formally known as Sustainable Group LLC but more commonly referred to by the name of the product with which the company started seven years ago.

 

The ReBinder features a detachable metal ring-binder system, so that when the old cover wears out, a new one can be attached. The distribution contract is with United Stationers Inc., which lists 100,000 items it supplies to resellers and retailers through 64 warehouses serving 25,000 customers. Just as ReBinder is designed to replace non-recyclable vinyl binders that wind up in landfills, RePlay and ReSleeve (a two-disk folder) are designed to replace non-recyclable plastic jewel cases and clamshell containers.

Brant Williams, ReBinder's chief marketing officer, says the company sees big opportunities in both existing and new markets and applications for RePlay and ReSleeve. “The existing markets consist of everything from large media companies and multinationals using these for internal purposes to photographers and bands distributing their work, to wedding celebrations and personal effects,” Williams says. “More than anything, the common thread is that these are used by groups large and small who have a sustainability commitment of some form and want to demonstrate that through their materials. Because our cases communicate that message instantly and powerfully, they are a good fit for those customers. “Growth markets are retail and disk duplicators. If you walk down the aisle of any big box store, you'll see a massive amount of plastic CD cases … and no option for a responsible choice. That same store may offer 'green' solutions in every other category of products, but not in jewel cases. Now they can and we're excited about helping them do that.” United has the exclusive distribution agreement for ReSleeve and RePlay, and this is the first line of products ReBinder has placed with the company.

The company has also been building retail sales, through its own website (www.guidedproducts.com) and through retail channels including Amazon.com and OfficeMax.com. Local retailers carrying ReBinder products include Goods for the Planet, Paperhaus, UW Bookstore and NuBe Green. ReBinder sources the materials for its products from Northwest mills. Packing and shipping is handled by Northwest Center, a Seattle-based non-profit providing services, training and employment to the disabled. While China's appetite for American recycled paper has driven up the price for that commodity, Williams says increased sales volumes have helped offset that, and prices for ReBinder's products at retail are comparable to those for products that can't be recycled.

The privately held company has 20 employees. While it doesn't disclose financials, Williams said Re-Binder is profitable and growing. Growth will come from adding new products. ReBinder currently lists 85 SKUs in the categories of recycled binders, CD cases, notebooks, folders and labels, and Williams says the company will add products in the existing categories and venture into new categories. Growth will also come from expanding availability of ReBinder products. “We think of distribution in a simple way: people should be able to buy the products they want, from the place they want,” Williams says. “To us, that means being available in the channels through which money is spent today. That means every corner of distribution in office products, retail and natural products.”

The company uses 100 percent recycled materials (the chipboard is made with 85 percent post-consumer recycled content), certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative or Forest Stewardship Council, and says its products, including name badges, are 100 percent recyclable. For all that, and even though it markets what it calls green products, Williams says ReBinder doesn't hold itself out as a green company. “While we do make things responsibly, and we do give back to the people in our communities, and none of our products require a landfill, we are not a green company,” he says. “We would argue that no company is a green company. They are simply a company. The only way a difference will ever really be made by responsible products is when they sit on the same shelves, for the same price as the other choices. It's time to stop crying foul at industry and (realize that) industry is the catalyst to change. Get good at it, or get comfortable at the kids table, where you'll have little impact on what's served for dinner. Responsible companies choose ReBinder to align message, mission and budget. If one of those is missing, then it's going to be a long road for makers of responsible products.”