Coming around again
Recycline plays a key supporting role with eco-friendly products from toothbrushes to plates
WALTHAM -- The back wall of Eric Hudson's office is covered with a map of the world, a reminder to himself to do his part to protect it. The company he founded 10 years ago, Recycline , makes sleek, eco-friendly items and has been expanding its line of products.
Hudson, 44, describes his wares -- which include recyclable razors, toothbrushes, and place settings -- as having "a simple elegance without being too techno." His first product, the Preserve toothbrush, went on the market in 1997. It was designed by his father, an industrial engineer, who incorporated feedback from five dental professionals in order to get just the right angle.
"A toothbrush back in the 1990s had gotten so many bells and whistles, colored zigzag bristles, and funky grippers that part of the project was to see what was marketing and what was function," Hudson said.
The timeless chic design made it onto the silver screen last year. Will Ferrell's burly fist was wrapped around the Preserve's sexy body throughout much of the movie "Stranger Than Fiction." The toothbrush had enough screen time that it could almost be considered a member of the cast.
Hudson's toothbrushes, toothpicks, and tableware products are made from recycled plastics and plant-based biodegradable plastics like sugar enzymes. Razor handles are produced from recycled plastics, 65 percent of which come from yogurt containers. When designing the razor, Recycline stayed away from "whoa-techno-cool" yet incorporated an ergonomic grippy handle, made from one material, for efficient recycling.
And when your product is ready to retire, it can be recycled easily. Recycline tucks a postage-paid recycling mailer into its packaging so items -- including the plastic box -- can be returned and eventually made into plastic lumber for such products as picnic tables and decks.
After majoring in economics and political science at Boston College, Hudson, who grew up in Lenox, spent 6 1/2 years wearing a suit for Fidelity Investments. "I worked on the service side -- accounting and trading -- but the part that I missed was the making of the product," he said. So at 28 he enrolled at Babson College, graduating in 1992. Four years later he had completed his Recycline plan and raised $100,000 in seed money. He was in business the following year.
"We were getting plastics from toy companies that went out of business, used ketchup bottles and production scrap, like the fall-off of plastic pens," said Hudson, who usually bikes the 22 miles to work from his home in Acton. When he's not peddling, he drives his "grease car," which runs off of used fryer oil.
For the past five years Recycline has had a partnership with organic leader Stonyfield Farm and recently hit a milestone, having recycled its 2 millionth yogurt container. In 2005, Recycline expanded into tableware with plates, cutlery, and tumblers. Now that the company has covered the bathroom and dining room table, it's moving into the kitchen with cutting boards (produced from recycled paper and cashew-nut shells), food storage devices, and other products.
Susan Chaityn Lebovits can be reached at Lebovits@globe.com.