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Human Effort Materials Planet Care Your Home

117: ecovelopes

Problem:

Traditional manufacture of envelopes were not concerned about the source of their paper nor of the chemical after-effects of their glues.

Solution:

Recyclable and biodegradable automatic insertion envelopes.


In 1997 Emmanuel Druon and a small team set up a factory they called Pocheco in Forest-sur-Marque close to Lille, northern France. Their goal was to manufacture ecovelopes, recyclable and biodegradable automatic insertion envelopes, while creating zero waste during the operation.

Druon based his organisation on “Ecolonomie”, where instead of a hierarchy, there is a four-strong steering committee. Paper is sourced from sustainable managed forests, unbleached and lighter weight, with solvent free ink and glue. The amount of paper waste from envelope cutting is sold and then recycled.

The vegetal roof of the plant hosts several beehives and also recuperates rainwater, which is then used both to dilute ink, clean chines and to supply water for the toilets. This water, polluted by the ink is then sent to a station where it is cleaned by 80 bamboos, then sent back to the building, ready to be used again. Energy from the machines is used to heat the factory, while solar power contributes to electricity.

Before long Pocheco were manufacturing some 2 billion ecovelopes per year. Also part of his Ecolonomie aproach, Druon collaborated with a Finnish paper manufacturers (UPM) so that every time one tree is cut down to make wood pulp , another four are planted in return, working out at 300,000 trees per year.

Pocheco’s Canopée Reforestation: Association for reforestation of the Northern Region of France has seen some 7,000 trees planted since 2009.

In 2019, Adare Post, producers of more than 115 million envelopes with transparent windows, partnered with Pocheco to produce windows made of pulp instead of plastic film. This made these business ecovelopes 100% recyclable and biodegradable, saving some 30 tonnes of plastic landfill waste every year. In the face of internet emails and text messages, Pocheco has also diversified to producing bags for use by pharmacies.

What you can do: Use recyclable and biodegradable envelopes and packages.

Tomorrow’s solution: Sunfire, fuel made from carbon dioxide

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