Staples and the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) have just launched the 2nd Annual Global EcoEasy Challenge. The challenge is looking for the most innovative new eco-friendly office supply concept. Contestants will be vying for a $25,000 grand prize and two $5,000 runner-up prizes.

To participate, teams with no more than four undergraduate or graduate students aged 18 or older must submit a 1,000-word description of the environmentally preferable office product no later than Dec. 23, 2010. This year, students from the following countries are eligible to participate: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada (excluding Quebec), China, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and the United States.

Beginning on March 8, 2011, and running through March 22, 2011, the public will be able to participate in the judging by visiting the EcoEasy Challenge website. Customers will be able to vote on their favorite submission once per day. After the public judging period ends, Staples will choose up to eight finalists. The finalists will be invited to present their idea to a panel of judges in Washington, D.C., in April 2011.

“We were incredibly impressed with the level of creativity and talent displayed at the 2010 competition. The leading entries included concepts such as a desk chair that controlled office power consumption and a 100 percent recyclable writing instrument,” said Mark Buckley, vice president of environmental affairs for Staples. “Staples is committed to creatively finding new ways to make environmentally preferable office products an everyday reality and encouraging students to consider the impact of a product’s design on the environment. This challenge allows us to celebrate environmentally preferable products as we reward students for their ideas and promote a new generation of products that are better for the environment.”

Team Aunswera from the University of New South Wales submitted the winning idea for the inaugural EcoEasy Challenge. The group’s winning idea was named “The BIND” – Binder Interlock Neat Device. The BIND is a reusable product that allows consumers to organize documents both at work and at home.

The two runners-up in the 2010 Challenge include the Eco-Stapler submitted by Team Explosi-Divas from the University of California at Berkeley and a hand-powered paper shredder, the Step Shredder, submitted by Team Rajas from the Indian Institute of Technology – Madras.

For more information about this year’s contest, download the 2011 Global EcoEasy Challenge brochure (PDF).

See also:

Sustainable supply chain

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