Kickstart: Investing in Recyclops

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Sure, Dwight Schrute on The Office may have vowed revenge as Recyclops, the Earth Day character he created. (Dwight Schrute, of course, being a character created by the actor Rainn Wilson on the sitcom.)

But why not invest in Recyclops instead? The Larry H. Miller Co. announced June 17 that it has made an unspecified investment in Recyclops Inc., a Utah startup focused on collecting hard-to-recycle materials and providing recycling in rural areas.

LHM also is partnering with Recyclops to use its services to improve sustainability efforts in recycling and reuse.

Recyclops has a subscription program that allows its customers to place items such as expanded polystyrene, film, batteries, lightbulbs and textiles on their porch each week for collection and recycling.

The program operates in 18 states and was founded in 2014.

Some business practices by Chinese firms are under scrutiny, with the U.S. set to ban PVC goods from a region that relies on forced labor, while a Wisconsin jury is hearing a case claiming intellectual property theft from a high-end electronics supplier.

In the PVC case, PVC makers in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China and companies using that PVC for items such as vinyl flooring and PVC pipe are being restricted under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which passed with bipartisan support in December.

“All seven of the PVC factories in the region, which produce 10 percent of the world’s PVC, employ ‘transferred laborers’ through state and corporate programs that ‘minoritized’ citizens are not allowed to refuse,” PN’s Catherine Kavanaugh writes.

At a federal courthouse in Milwaukee, a jury has awarded Raffel Systems LLC more than $100 million in its lawsuit against China-based Man Wah Holdings, finding that it infringed on Raffel’s patents for technology in parts for high-end theater-style seating that combine beverage cups with electronic controls for lighting, footrests and reclining functions.

Raffel said in its suit that Man Wah went so far as to include Raffel’s patent information on the parts.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinal writes: “The jury awarded about $9.3 million in actual damages for the false marking, patent and trade dress infringements. It added $97.5 million in punitive damages for the malicious appropriation of Raffel’s trade dress, the overall look and feel of the cupholder.”

What would you do if you were asked to help out the guy who took your job?

Workers at Continental AG’s ContiTech plant in Lincoln, Neb., which had made automotive and agricultural vehicle hoses and belts until the early 2000s when the work moved to Chihuahua, Mexico, were asked to temporarily take back that work when the pandemic shut down production there.

As Erin Pustay Beaven at our sister paper Rubber News writes, it would’ve been easy for workers who’d lost the work previously to reject the call for help now. But they didn’t.

“We had the manpower, we had the knowledge, we had the skillset, we had the equipment,” Production Manager Bill Duncan said. “We had the ability to help our sister facility that was unable to produce that [hose]. And we felt it was our duty to Continental and our customers to do anything we can to help them.”

You can find the full story here.