RIT and Staples Launch Second Annual EcoEasy Challenge

Search for the most innovative ‘green’ office product underway

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Office products company Staples and the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at Rochester Institute of Technology have launched the second annual Global EcoEasy Challenge to find the world’s most ingenious concepts for environmentally preferable office products. The 2011 challenge is open to all undergraduate or graduate student teams enrolled at universities located within 16 select countries.

Designs may use environmentally preferable material or present a new product promoting sustainability. Staples and RIT will invite up to eight finalists to Washington, D.C., in April to present their product ideas to a panel of judges. The grand-prize winning team will receive $25,000 and two runners-up will receive $5,000 each.

“We were incredibly impressed with the level of creativity and talent displayed at the 2010 competition,” says Mark Buckley, vice president of environmental affairs for Staples. “The leading entries included concepts such as a desk chair that controlled office power consumption and a 100 percent recyclable writing instrument.”

This year, for the first time, the public will be able to act as a judge and help determine the winning submission. Interested individuals can visit the EcoEasy website once a day from March 8 through March 22 to cast ballots for the best design.

“We are looking forward to working with Staples once again to raise awareness of the growing need and demand for sustainable products,” adds Nabil Nasr, director of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at RIT.

The contest is open to teams of up to four undergraduate or graduate students, 18 years or older and enrolled at universities in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada (excluding Quebec), China, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and the United States. Interested students can register for the contest at ecoeasychallenge.com. All teams must submit their final concepts no later than Dec. 23.

Note:The Golisano Institute for Sustainability at RIT was formed in 2007 thanks to a $10 million gift from Paychex founder and Chairman B. Thomas Golisano. The institute currently houses one of the world’s first doctoral programs in sustainability. It also conducts cutting-edge research in nanotechnology, alternative-energy development and validation, sustainable design and pollution prevention and works with a host of businesses and state and federal agencies including Xerox Corp., Eastman Kodak Co., General Motors, Staples, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Department of Transportation.