By Christina Harper HBJ Freelance Writer
ARLINGTON — Investors have pumped $42 million into sustainable plastics technologies company MicroGREEN Polymers Inc., the firm says.
The latest cash infusion comes from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Ore., which, along with other investors, are backing the company with $10 million.
The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde first learned about the MicroGREEN proposition from the Arlington-based Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, which invested $5 million earlier this year.
MicroGREEN uses its patented technology, Ad-air, to convert water bottles into InCycle insulated hot and cold cups that can be recycled. And there are plenty of plastic cups and water bottles in landfills to use.
“We are talking about 140 billion drinking cups being used a year,” in the U.S., said Chris Jacobs, vice president of marketing and product development.
“Fifteen hundred water bottles are used in America every second. It’s a huge problem.”
Turning that problem into an environmentally sound product that creates less carbon footprint is the Arlington company’s core business.
The technology created at MicroGREEN allows the company to reduce waste and to lower costs in the production of InCycle cups.
Because plastics are not chemically altered in the process, the InCycle cups can later be recycled. There is no water used in creating the product, therefore no wastewater is created.
The Arlington facility has the ability to convert at least 20 million pounds of water bottle plastic every year. The cups also weigh between 50 to 80 percent less than other products with similar firmness and are more durable than solid plastic, the company says.
Interests in the MicroGREEN’s technologies span the globe, including Great Britain, South Africa and Japan.
For now MicroGREEN will use some of the recent investment money to help finance $8 million of production equipment that will integrate manufacturing processes.
Although the company will hire more staff, the majority of the invested money will go to manufacturing capabilities, Jacobs said.
MicroGREEN was founded by graduate researchers at the University of Washington and funded by angel investors and the Washington Research Foundation in 2006.
With investments in place, MicroGREEN will extend commercial production to meet demand from existing orders such as Redhook Brewery and Alaska Airlines. Those customers purchase the cups, the product that the company is focusing on for airlines and quick serve restaurants in a $25 billion market.