The Ecological Story
In 1972, Ecological Fibers, Inc. was founded on progressive environmental principles and policies. Coating paper was a dirty business back then, and we knew that it was up to us to lead the way towards creating a more environmentally friendly industry.
“We all have a vested interest,” said John Penatzer, Vice President of Operations, “at the end of the day, there needs to be that feeling of responsibility, that the longer we allow the old ways to continue the bigger the problems we ultimately create. Ecological has always been at the forefront of that positive change.”
Dave Robbins, Senior Vice President of Sales added, “in the 20 years I’ve been here, the converting plant has doubled in size and the coating plant has grown 50 percent. We’ve come a long way in the coating technologies we use. It was a fight to make our products better while removing the hazardous content, but we’ve accomplished it. Time has shown it was the right path, but it was not an easy one at all.”
President John Quill recently explained, “we did not become the greenest paper coating company in the world because it was an easy thing to do. We did it because it was the RIGHT thing to do.” Robbins added, “we want to be proud of what we do. You don’t want to look back and wish you’d done something differently. It was our goal to make the cleanest covering materials in the world, and that’s what we’re doing.”
It all began with founder Stephen Quill, when he converted a paper coating factory in Rhode Island from a chemically contaminated area featuring a building held together with blast doors and clips (designed to allow the roof to release in case of chemical explosion), into the cleanest cover material manufacturer in the world. “When Steve first went down there and saw this he said no, we won’t continue down this road… we’re going to do it clean or we’re not going to do it at all,” explained Robbins.
Mike O’Keefe, Senior Product Manager noted, “when you take ownership of a business you also take ownership of its history. You must do your due diligence and ask what was this before? The Quill’s investigated and their results showed that the old business would take their solvent and heavy metal pigment waste and dump it into the ground outside the plant. Trailer truck loads of contaminated soil were taken out to be treated to remove any hazardous contaminants before the cleaned soil was brought back. That’s where we have our garden now, blooming with Azaleas, Hydrangeas, and all kinds of beautiful plants. That is the spot where the old factory would dispose of their chemicals.”
“Ecological” is more than a name, it represents moral values and our pledge to meet the highest standards of sustainability and social responsibility. Under our trademark, Rainbow®, we have consistently employed the most innovative technology to design fashionable, high quality products that exceed environmental, health and safety standards around the world.
“There are some strict standards out there and it’s just going to keep getting stricter the more people realize they want clean paper. We’re already there,” said Robbins, “at the store I show my wife and kids products that we’ve been a part of, and I’m proud of them. We’ve developed materials for clients where we were asked to meet new specifications in an environmental way. We didn’t know if we could do it. It was difficult, but we did it and not everyone else can say that. We’re developing products that are functional and beautiful, and at the end of their use can be thrown into the recycling bin.”
To read the whole eco-story, please click here