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Ecologic manufacturing greener containers

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Ecologic founder Julie Corbett is flanked by Manteca Councilwoman Debby Moorhead and San Joaquin County Supervisor as she cuts the ribbon to the new manufacturing facility.

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED July 19, 2013 1:38 a.m.

The new Ecologic Brands manufacturing plant that opened Thursday with a well-attended ribbon cutting in Manteca’s Industrial Park was the result of an idea of company founder Julie Corbett’s two young girls.

The firm will turn out some 60 million of their ecologically designed bottles within its first year. The bottles have a thin plastic sack inside and are engineered to greatly reduce plastic waste.

Ecologic Brands has been recognized for making America’s first recycled fiber bottles dedicated to offering consumers a choice in packaging beyond plastic or glass.  The 60,000- square-foot building is on Carnegie Street. 

Corbett lauded her girls, Beatrice Rose, 14, and her sister Claire, 12, with bringing home the importance and the need of doing something to minimize discarded plastics in the trash from a school competition that centered on ecology.

Beatrice said it all started with Earth Week at their Oakland elementary school when she was in the fourth grade where the different grade levels challenged each other for ideas to produce the least amount of waste.

“My mom went all out in the competition and bought Tupperware for us to take in our lunch boxes,” she added.  “She started working on the (bottle) idea from our home office some five to six years ago.”

Both girls chimed that they are very proud of their mother and what she has accomplished in such a short time.  A close friend,  Sam Deaner, a former news photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle, interjected after the ribbon cutting that Corbett was so focused on what she was doing in those first two years of her firm’s development that she never left her office living room,  staying in her pajamas all day while fielding and making phone calls and working on designs.

Daughter Claire added, “It has taught me that whatever you set your mind to, you can accomplish your goal.”   She said she could remember all her friends following the effort, never having any plastic in their lunch bags in their attempt to protect the environment.

Beatrice recalled she had a “Dora the Explorer” lunch box since kindergarten.  Claire added that she would take the stickers off of the small tangerines she had for lunch and line them up on the outside of her lunch box.

The girls remember helping their mom with an early assembly line in their home where they glued together the outside cardboard halves of the first containers,  getting “sticky fingers” in the process. 

Beatrice remembered, too, when she and her sister and her best friend Liza would just sit around the work table and talk while gluing the bottle containers together.  Both girls are now in acting camp for the summer – both intrigued with theater productions.  Beatrice is a counselor and her sister Claire is in a production of “The Villain Project.”

The girls had given their mom a nick name during the start-up activity of her firm, “ABAT.”  That means, “All bottles, all the time.”

“I brought one of the (bottle) shells to school in the fifth grade,” Beatrice said.  “The teacher was so fascinated.”

Julie Corbett went to the microphone and welcomed her corporate guests and Manteca city officials at about 10:30 Thursday morning, voicing how thrilled she was with the attendance that filled the chairs under a large white tent set up near the front door to the office area.

She first noted the history of the building was important to recognize.  She said they are in the former home of Amtex where some 200 people reported for work every day, sending their products to the NUMNI, Toyota, auto manufacturing plant in Fremont until that plant shut down early in the recession.

“If you think of Ecologic, think of a little company from Oakland, California with just 11 employees that has moved into this building to create a new process with products that will replace plastic,” Corbett said.   “You compare our products to plastic bottles, they will create 59 percent less solid waste, will emit 32 percent less CO2, and use 48 percent less energy than comparable plastic bottles.” 

Corbett thanked the City of Manteca and San Joaquin County for their efforts in helping them locate in the Manteca Industrial Park where they can be centrally located in the state near several large distribution centers including Safeway Stores.  Access to the I-5 freeway corridor was also said to be a factor in addition to a lesser cost of operation of their facility in the Central Valley.

The firm has grown to 30 employees now that it is located in Manteca.

The guests were treated to hors d’ouvres, soft drinks and tours of the manufacturing facility at the end of the ribbon cutting ceremonies set up by the Manteca Chamber of Commerce followed by tours of the facility.  

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