Stepping off the plane in San Francisco, I am always delighted to see three bins awaiting me: Garbage, Recycling and Composting. It's clearly the way things should be everywhere if we want to reduce our annual 200 million ton garbage problem. Sadly, while 75% of that waste is actually recyclable, the EPA estimates we still only recycle about 30% of it.
According to a recent Forbes article, the global picture is even bleaker. It claims that globally we are using 1 million plastic bottles per minute -- and tragically, only 9% get recycled. The problem is worst in those parts of the world without adequate waste collection systems.
But what if every bottle could be used as a building block? That was the question that inspired Steven Klein. A retired educator and Founder of the Learning Store, Ltd., a chain of educational toy stores that specialize in playthings for children with disabilities, Klein's solution is the Eco Connect Bottle® System. This patented design is described as "the world's first multiple re-use single-serve plastic water bottle that supports the Circular Economy and Extended Producer Responsibility."
Unlike traditional plastic bottles, Eco Connect bottles have a deeper recess in the base, so that the top of one can be readily connected to the bottom of the next, quite securely. The resulting pieces are strong enough to be used to construct everything from household furniture, such as side tables and shelving units, and can also be used as building insulation. Once Eco Connect becomes standard, there will be many more uses for these bottles.
Klein's longterm goal is to get every major bottling company in the world to switch to Eco Connect bottles. To start with, he is focused on getting one major brand online. He already has an exclusive relationship with a worldwide leader in PET liquid packaging solutions, with 30,000 machines installed in more than 190 countries. They can now easily convert their operating machines to produce Klein's proprietary Eco Connect Bottle System.
Once he gets retailers to sign on, the missing link will be the required connector pieces. These Klein plans to sell online with free 2-day shipping. "An expanding variety of connector pieces, lights, and motors will become available to continue to grow the system. Also, a percentage of funds from connector purchases will be donated to water conservation programs," Klein explains.
Klein's vision is a big one, but he is a patient man. He has been working on this project for eleven years already. This year, he put out his first press release and began seeking his first bottling deal. Hopefully, one of the world's large plastic bottling companies will snatch up this cool modification and help give plastic bottles a new purpose that will remove them permanently from the waste stream. It's an idea whose time has surely come!