Who: Zee Dynamics is a startup with a patent-pending technology that supposedly reduces the amount of fuel and energy used in the production of rubber products such as shoes and tires, and can also make the rubber last longer. The company is self-funded by founder John Carcich, who says he has invested about a half million dollars.
Why: According to the EPA, there are at least 275 million scrap tires in stockpiles in the U.S. Meanwhile, every year “millions of pairs” of shoes end up in landfills. Even companies like athletic retailer Nike realize disposing of all these rubber-soled shoes isn’t good for the environment.
Carcich is currently trying to license his technology, which includes a material coating in the rubber-making process, to shoe makers companies like Nike (NKE) and Stride Rite (SRR). “I’ve made a shoe sole six years ago, [and] looking at the rubber, it hasn’t aged — it’s as flexible as it was as the day we made it,” he said.
What: Carcich claims his technology reduces the “cycle time” it takes to make a rubber product by 25 percent, therefore reducing the amount of energy it uses. Energy efficiency is particularly important for this sector, notes research firm Cleaner Production International, because the process often requires heat. Carcich further claims that the material he adds to the rubber-making process also extends the life of rubber products, which means less rubber gets added to landfills.
During the development phase Carcich sought out advice and information on rubber manufacturing from Frank Cote, technical director of San Jose, Calif.-based Burke Industries. We called Cote, who did the first tests on the technology, to find out what he thinks of the idea. “He’s found this material, I believe in the Baja California area. It’s a good product, it does do what he says it’s going to do,” said Cote.
Where: Zee Dynamics is located in Campbell, Calif.
When: Zee Dynamics was officially incorporated in 2006, though Carcich started to develop the technology in 2001.