If you were trying to harm the environment, you couldn't do much worse than invent a flimsy, single-use styrofoam box, a hunk of non-biodegradable pollution destined to haunt this world for thousands of years after an afternoon of fishing or Saturday night of camping. Of course, you'd be late to the punch because that product already exists – the disposable foam cooler, an outdoor accessory so environmentally unfriendly government bodies stretching from New York City to San Diego have been banning its sale. Thus, a new market opens, and Igloo steps in with a disposable cooler that's both reusable and biodegradable. Cooling convenience no longer has to weigh so heavily on one's eco conscience.
Already a well-established player on the non-disposable side of the cooler market, Igloo makes a move into disposables with what it calls the world's first cooler made from 100 percent biodegradable materials. More specifically, the Recool is built from organic molded paper pulp treated with wax-like alkylated ketene dimers (AKD) for strength and hydrophobicity. Igloo says the cooler will retain ice for up to 12 hours and hold the melted water without leaking for up to five days.
Unlike notoriously flimsy foam coolers, which easily chip, crack and disintegrate into pieces, the Recool's cardboard-like construction creates a crumble-free design that won't leave your food and drink high and dry. Best of all, while disposable, the cooler isn't limited to a single use, being designed to be used multiple times after air-drying in between. We're sure it'll wear out well before a non-disposable cooler, but it's nice to know that you can get a few uses out of it before it does.
Recool coolers has launched at REI locations across the US this month, just in time for the coming summer beach, BBQ, camping and general great outdoors season. At US$10 for a 15-L model, the Recool is more expensive than a basic styrofoam cooler, but it's still fairly affordable and its multi-use design should help cut that price gap down to nil, especially if you value not feeling guilty about using a foam disposable. The coolers will launch at other US retailers this summer.
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