In the lead-up to this year’s Sustainable Brands Innovation Open — our competition for startups poised to make scalable, sustainable impacts — we’re catching up with some of our favorite game-changing solutions from past years. This week, we have an update from SBIO 2013 finalist Blue Box.
At Sustainable Brands 2013 San Diego, our esteemed panel of SBIO judges named Blue Box ‘Top Innovator’ for its patented industrial system cleaning technology. Founder and CEO James Metropoulos said the driving ideology behind Blue Box is to rethink and innovate the industrial maintenance space as a means to create new solutions that make it possible for companies to reduce their environmental footprint while reducing their costs.
We recently caught up with Metropoulos to hear about Blue Box’s tremendous momentum in both sales and partnerships since SBIO, as well as the company’s newest product/service launch: Blue Box Air.
Air filtration is integral to every major industry, a major expense, and accounts for 15 percent of all energy consumed by the US. Millions of cubic feet of spent (used) filters are sent to landfills every year, not to mention the serious supply chain CO2 footprint from manufacturing, packaging and shipping of the filters. According to Metropoulos, Blue Box Air completely rethinks and measurably improves the air filtration space, reducing companies’ hard costs while dramatically reducing their environmental footprint.
The Blue Box Air subscription service completely eliminates the need for single-use filters — dramatically reducing operations costs for companies by cutting the need for filters by roughly 80% and reducing environmental/supply chain harm proportionally. Metropoulos says Blue Box Air will replace your used filters immediately, taking the used filters to a regional facility where they will be cleaned with environmentally safe chemicals to be used again. Companies that subscribe to Blue Box Air will not have to do any maintenance of their air filtration system, simultaneously slashing their operational costs and decreasing their environmental impact. The filters are provided by Blue Box Air and have a lifespan of about five uses, and the company recycles them at end of life. And since Blue Box Air only uses filters made from recycled material, the recycled filters create zero landfill waste.
At SB ‘13, Metropoulos says he made connections that led to valuable business partnerships for his new pivoted business and product, including Frank O’Brien from Owens Corning and executives at GM, as well as several other industry sustainability leaders. In fact, because of the access gained to GM, Metropoulos is now starting a pilot program with General Motors.
Blue Box also caught the attention of Carnival Cruise Lines: Metropoulos is currently working on a pilot, taking over all filtration needs for one of its cruise ships.
“Right now, one Carnival Cruise ship needs 800 filters replaced every 6 months, which equals 1,600 filters consumed per year. Every year, Carnival has a very large CO2 supply chain from its filters (estimated to be 80,000 lbs over 5 year period, per ship), as well as a 8,000 cubic feet of landfill waste stream; over a 5-year period, one Carnival ship will consume 8,000 filters,” Metropoulos says.
For the pilot, Blue Box Air will upgrade Carnival’s filters to a higher quality (merv 12), handle all installations and cleaning (eliminating 1,000 hours of labor), and reduce the number of filters used from 8,000 to 1,600-1,800.
Blue Box has come a long way since its breakout at SB ’13, and Metropoulos says the exposure he gained through SBIO played a major part in his company’s evolution.
“SB is uniquely positioned — it pays attention at the Fortune 500 level, and for them to aggregate and push out the latest trends and what’s going on, helps those executives to keep on top of it,” he said. “It is a key service and a strong value-add for us and those companies.”
If you have or know a startup that’s created a game-changing sustainable innovation, enter by March 23 for a chance to win cash prizes, consultation with a variety of industry experts, and a chance to showcase your product/service to over 2,000 representatives from major brands and organizations across the globe.