Monday, February 1st, 2010
It has been six months since the premier of the International Plastics Design Competition (IPDC) at NPE2009. In the relative quiet since the awards were celebrated and the last exhibits found their way home, I was recently reminded again of the excitement and pride we all felt to learn of so many critical problems being solved through innovation with plastics materials.
Last week, as I continued to read through news of the earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti, I thought of one plastic product in particular: the WaterBrick, which won two IPDC Awards last June — in the Sustainability Part/Component and Industrial/Military categories. Two plastics industry companies — FPM Tooling & Automation (designer and moldmaker) and ACM Plastic Products(molder) — were key to producing this life-saving resource.
The WaterBrick is an industrial container made of HDPE (high-density polyethylene) that is recyclable and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for water storage. It can be air-dropped into disaster zones to provide 3.4 gallons of clean water per container to people in need. The use of HDPE renders the WaterBrick less costly than comparable steel containers, and careful design enables the containers to withstand the impact of a fall to the ground from a plane. Once the water inside is used, the WaterBrick can be refilled with dirt or sand and utilized as a building block for construction of shelters in lieu of expensive concrete blocks (which is the case in Mkuze, South Africa.)
It occurred to me that if these WaterBricks were not being sent to Haiti, then someone should find a way to get them there. I was thrilled to discover that WaterBrick International had indeed formed a partnership with GlobalGiving to raise funds to get as many WaterBricks as possible into Haiti. I encourage everyone to donate – as little as $10 provides one person with a week’s supply of clean water! (Currently, WaterBricks are not being used for shelter purposes in Haiti.)
It is gratifying to work directly with people and companies whose products transform lives and help overcome challenges of this magnitude — and we in the plastics industry get to do it a lot. Let this example be a reminder for us to continue encouraging innovation and supporting one another’s efforts to make the world a safer, healthier place for all.