History of Eco’s Product and Environmental Innovation
Case 1: A Flammability and Toxicity Challenge
In 1992, a large California spa manufacturer was on the verge of being shut down by the local fire department. They were unable to control problems with spontaneous combustion caused by their solvent-based wood staining operation. The company was also being investigated by the California Environmental Protection Agency for air and water quality infractions.
Eco developed a waterbased wood stain for this customer that equaled the previous stain’s performance while reducing VOCs (volatile organic compounds—toxic air emissions), ending toxic releases into the municipal sewer system, and eliminating the threat of fire.
Case 2: An Air Quality Challenge
In 1993, Eco began working with a Northwest yacht manufacturer having problems with toxic air emissions. They were using solvent-based varnishes and stains to finish the wood walls and cabinetry inside their yachts, and the toxic fumes were causing problems for their employees. Although the painters were reluctant to switch to a new technology and devote the time required to learn new application techniques, one painter told us: “This stuff is killing me—I want to change.” Eco developed a stain and polyurethane for this manufacturer that had low VOCs and virtually no odor, that was safe for the employees to use, that cleaned up easily with soap and water, and that could be safely discharged to the municipal sewer system.
Case 3: A Recycled Glass Challenge
In 1994, Eco received funding from the State of Washington to research the feasibility of using recycled glass as filler in elastomeric roof coating systems. In conjunction with the Clean Washington Center, Eco developed an exterior coating system called Eco GlassCoat; 50% of the solids content was recycled glass. This environmentally-sound coating was waterbased, nonflammable in a liquid state, and cleaned up with soap and water like any latex paint.
The first commercial application of this waterbased architectural coating was a building that enclosed an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Moisture was migrating through the split-block exterior wall and causing problems with the coating inside the building. Eco GlassCoat was an excellent choice for this application, because the glass filler helped to fill voids and cracks. Eco GlassCoat provided performance and longevity equal to any other high-performance architectural coating, while helping fulfill the County’s mandate to use recycled products whenever possible—at roughly the same cost.
Case 4: Environmental Partners
In the mid 1990’s, the pressure-treated lumber industry on the west coast embraced Eco’s waterbased technology in wood stains that cosmetically improved their products. (Remember when pressure-treated lumber was green instead of reddish-brown?) At the same time, these companies also appreciated the low VOCs and nonflammability of Eco’s highly concentrated wood stains.
Over a period of several years, Eco and the pressure-treated lumber industry collaborated on a unique environmental project: plastic tote recycling. Eco ships its waterbased stains in 275-gallon plastic totes. (At a 3:1 concentration, this represents 1,100 useable gallons of stain.) Customers use the stain in their pressure-treating process and ship the totes back to Eco, where we thoroughly clean and refill them, and then ship them out to other customers. Each time a 275-gallon tote is recycled, the customer saves on shipping costs and a landfill is spared five 55-gallon drums. Over a year’s time, that removes hundreds of plastic or fiber drums from landfills throughout the western U.S.
Case 5: A Breakthrough in Removable Field Marking Paints
In 2002-2003, Eco Chemical worked closely with the Seattle Seahawks to address a growing problem with multi-use synthetic-turf athletic fields. Existing latex turf paints were easy to apply and produced great-looking lines, but they were very difficult to remove. Million-dollar fields were being damaged as managers tried everything from scrubbers and harsh chemicals, and even steam cleaners, to remove lines so the fields could be restriped for another event.
Eco’s R&D team responded to this challenge with Eco Temp-Line, a coating that allows synthetic turf fields to be marked, erased and re-marked in a short period of time so that different sports can be played on the same field. Since then, Eco Temp-Line has become the preferred turf marking paint on synthetic NFL and college fields throughout the U.S. and Canada.
In 2009, Eco is releasing Eco Temp-Line Grass for use on natural grass athletic fields. Temp-Line Grass paint is a revolution in paint packaging: an ultra-concentrated, two-part system that ships in a cardboard box. A 10-gallon package of Temp-Line Grass eliminates two 5-gallon plastic pails, approximately 60% of shipping costs, and 60% of storage space—saving money and eliminating stacks of empty 5-gallon pails waiting to be transported to the landfill. At the same time, Eco Temp-Line Grass also provides the performance and ease of use that the industry expects from any high-quality turf marking paint.