NEW YORK -- Tonight, a cadre of vendors filled Manhattan’s Metropolitan Pavilion to showcase technologies that ranged from biodegradable Styrofoam cups, eco friendlier electronics, and high efficiency lighting to a power generating exercise bike.
Some were local entrepreneurs; others were well known household brands. Overall, I was left with the impression that green business is bustling. Here are some of the highlights from the floor:
A New York based recycling start-up called The 4th Bin was publicizing its pickup service for e-waste. The 4th Bin sorts e-waste at a facility in Harlem; it then donates, refurbishes items whenever possible. Mount Vernon, New York’s WeRecycle! processes whatever can’t be salvaged.
Recycle Movement Corp. was displaying textiles that it wove from plastic bottles.
WinCup was another standout. The company has designed a biodegradable Styrofoam cup that marketing director Fran Alexay says has the same performance characteristics as a standard cup. The WinCup product will decompose in a landfill within 2.5 years, she added. It may also be recycled.
Gazelle’s chief gadget officer Anthony Scarsella highlighted the electronics recycler’s partnership with Newegg.com and Toshiba. Gazelle has teamed up with Newegg for an Earth Day inspired promotion to collect one ton of used electronics this month.
RadioShack has a trade in program where customers can receive discounts for bringing in their used electronics. It sometimes accepts smartphones that are not in working condition.
Green Revolution was demonstrating its creative use of exercise equipment: using your sweat to generate power. A poor soul spent her entire night peddling a Green Revolution equipped bike to light up a case of light bulbs. The company is targeting health clubs.
Several software companies and hardware makers were also on hand. INRIX was promoting its traffic data services, which program manager Cindi Solomon said can yield significant fuel savings for commuters. INRIX utilizes predictive analytics, which enable it to provide traffic forecasts for state government and media outlets.
ITT showed that renewable power can be practical as well as being green. It displayed a solar powered rain barrel that can be installed onto homes without requiring an electrician to wire it up.
Green can also mean tough. HP’s line up of “rugged” business laptops are manufactured using more environmentally friendly materials such as aluminum and magnesium, said PR manager Mike Hockey. “They are built to be dropped,” he noted. The laptops also feature energy monitoring software that HP's enterprise customers can use to correlate companywide energy usage.
The environmental group DoSomething.org was sharing booth space with HP. DoSomething.org focuses on promoting K-12 environmental activism and awareness.
Embedded chip manufacturer Sigma Designs gave an example how its solutions – more commonly used for home security -- could be used for home control. Mary Miller, director of marketing, turned on the lights in her Milpitas, Calif. Office via the Web. The office is outfitted with specially made electrical outlets.
In a similar vein, ThinkEco introduced its “modlet” (modern outlet) electrical outlet, a power outlet than businesses and households can retrofit into their wiring to conserve energy. Modlet’s software tracks energy uses and learns user behavior over time; it will turn off the office water-cooled at night, or a family’s big screen TV during work hours. Modlet has a built-in override button that is accessible from smartphones.
“We recommend that people use it for their home entertainment center,” said Mei Shibata-ThinkEco's chief business officer. The average home that it tested Modlet in saved 10 percent on its energy bill, she noted.
Energy saving home lighting technology has also come a long way since I last attended Ecofocus. Gone are the unsightly spiral shaped CFL bulbs; style is the new trend. Philips revealed a new high efficiency incandescent bulb that meets government energy standards. It also announced new high-end indoor LED light fixtures, traditionally shaped LED light bulbs, and color changing LED lights for added ambiance.
Pixi Lighting is positioning its LED lighting technology as a fluorescent light tube killer. Its LED panels can be customized into any size. You may one day find it in a store or office building near you.
Another product designed by TurtleTech Design was more of a novelty, pairing solar power with spinning desk globes. SodaStream was also on hand to demonstrate its in-home fountain that can substitute store bought bottles of soda.
I'm looking forward to seeing what new technology is announced a year from now. Green business is growing, and appearing increasingly mainstream.