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Elmer’s Glue: cost-neutral recycling of dispersed, post-consumer goods

The Client
For 65 years, Elmer’s Glue has been a ubiquitous presence in classrooms and homes around the country. Producing the most well known collection of consumer adhesives in the country, Elmer’s is an American household name with a wide reach.

The Challenge
Selling millions of bottles of glue per year, Elmer’s became interested in its recycling potential. Bottles were sold to and through most grocery stores, office supply stores, & arts and craft stores and ended up in classrooms, households, etc. all over the country. How could Elmer’s go about recapturing all this dispersed, post-consumer material? They approached us to help design a collection program. Beyond the issue of collecting the material, CGM had to tackle the challenge of recapturing the value of the material itself. Glue bottles were made of a mix of HDPE and LDPE plastics, not to mention the glue residue leftover after use, as well as the glue holding the label on.

The Solution
In partnership with Elmer’s, we designed a used glue bottle take back program that was simple, yet effective. Each box of glue sold came with its own pre-paid self mailer box to be used to collect empty used bottles of glue. Material accumulation was as easy as filling up the box on your own time and dropping it in the mailbox whenever it was full. Through an initial research and development phase, we had created a method to wash, chip, and separate the old glue bottles to then be reintegrated into production of new glue bottles.

The Result
Elmer’s, as well as Elmer’s consumers everywhere, were happy to know that used glue bottles no longer contributed to landfill waste. In developing a self-mailer box included with glue purchases, CGM was able to design a cost-neutral recycling solution for Elmer’s to avoid landfilling fees without huge overhead costs. Furthermore, by reincorporating the collected waste into its production stream, Elmer’s was able to lessen its environmental impact while saving on virgin material use.

Designing a pre-consumer goods recycling program for eyewear manufacturer while prioritizing asset protection

The Client
One of the world’s largest eyewear manufacturer and retailers, responsible for making, distributing, and selling millions of glasses a year. A vertically integrated company, this Forbes Top Multinational Performer makes eyewear under luxury brand names, produces lenses and frames, as well as operates thousands of retail locations.

The Challenge
Any consumer goods retailer or manufacturer must grapple with the disposal of returned, damaged, overstocked and/or scrapped material. In any case this poses a financial liability, throw branded goods into the mix and it becomes a brand integrity liability as well. Tired of destroying potentially viable product in the name of asset protection, the client approached CGM to create a recycling solution that would keep their obsolete inventory out of landfills AND out of the wrong hands.

The Solution
Through research and development, CGM was able to apply circular thought to develop a recycling method that separated lenses from frames, extracting valuable precious metals and plastics in the process. These components were then ground, separated and sold back to different sectors of the manufacturing industry, some even coming full circle to be reincorporated back into eyewear production.

The Results
CGM was able to apply years of recycling experience to customize a solution to recycle pre-consumer branded eyewear, with asset protection as a top priority. This resulted in cost savings on landfilling, environmental impact mitigation, as well as risk reduction of the misuse and resale of branded inventory.