You know we love upcycling around here, so when the folks at MINIWIZ offered to send me their case for the iPhone 4 that's made from trash, I knew I had to take them up on it.
The case is made out of an architectural grade plastic called POLLI-BER, that the company developed. Polli-ber is a trash composite made with processed organic rice husk and post-consumer thermoplastics from used car bumpers, CD containers, bottle caps, etc. Pretty cool, right? Keeping plastic out of the landfill and replacing something that people buy with a more sustainable alternative!
The case fit my phone nicely, though I wish that it also protected the phone's face. I drop my phone a lot, and my last iPhone bit the dust when the screen shattered.
One really cool feature about the RE-Case is that it seems to be geared towards folks who use mass transit. There's room in the case to insert your refillable transit card, though I guess if you have one of those tap and spend credit cards, you could use that, too. They provide an EM shield that you stick between the card and your phone, so the phone won't demagnetize your card.
The case is cute, and I like that it's multi purpose. One thing that sort of bothered me was the packaging. Here's what the press release says about the packaging: "RE-case is packaged in recycled cardboard." What they don't mention is that the recycled cardboard is then wrapped in plastic film. Since they don't mention anything about it, I'm assuming this isn't made from trash or recycled. Plastic of this quality also isn't recyclable, so each case comes with a bit of trash that's headed for the landfill. Here's everything that came with my RE-Case
Don't get me wrong: I love that they're diverting waste from the landfill to make a product that people are buying already. If you're in the market for an iPhone 4 case and the screen thing isn't a concern for you--lots of iPhone cases don't have screen protection--this is a great way to buy a case with a lot less waste. It certainly has fewer disposable bits than most of the cases out there.
The rep from MINIWIZ who sent me the case to review commented via email on the plastic wrap issue. Here's what she had to say:
Our distributors demanded that we sealed the entire packaging with plastic (anti-theft, anti-dust, whatever) and you have no idea how peeved we were. But alas, it was a hard battle to convince retailers to carry them in the first place, when all they wanted were rhinestones and crazy colors.
Interesting, right? I think that's a side of production that you don't normally see. Companies need a good relationship with distributors, because that's how you get your product into stores.
What's really revolutionary to me is the POLLI-BER material. As you know, I hate petroleum-based plastic products, and this material seems like an economical, sturdy replacement for some virgin plastics. It's architectural grade, which means it's pretty sturdy, too. I could see benches, picnic tables, picture frames, and all sorts of other housewares made with this stuff. Since the composite does contain a mish mash of plastics, it's probably not a good idea to use this stuff to make dishware or food storage, but for other types of housewares it seems like a great option.