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New Fiberglas still pink but made greener

OC changes primary product for 1st time in over 50 years


Gale Tedhams, director of sustainability-green products for Owens-Corning, touts the new touchable Ecotouch insulation product at the Home Depot in Toledo.

The Blade/Lori King
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For a half century, the primary product of one of Toledo’s largest companies has been renowned worldwide for being both prickly and pink, even as it saved countless millions of dollars in energy costs.

Now after a multimillion-dollar research investment, Owens Corning’s famous Fiberglas insulation has taken on a decidedly greener tint, even as it keeps its trademarked pink hue.

Called EcoTouch, the company’s new insulation formulation uses a biological-based binder to hold together the spun glass fibers of pink insulation instead of the previous binder, which contained tiny amounts of formaldehyde, said Gale Tedhams, an Owens Corning director who oversees the company’s sustainability issues and green products.

She did not identify the plant-based material used as the new binder, but said it was part of a “domestic field crop.” The new product is formaldehyde free, she said.

“We haven’t changed our flagship product in over 50 years,” Ms. Tedhams said yesterday as she stood in an aisle of a Home Depot store in West Toledo that was stacked with the company’s ubiquitous pink products. “There was a lot of time, a lot of research and development that went into this.”

The new formulation, which was introduced in Canada last year and in the United States this year, allowed OC to become the first fiberglass insulation to be certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a biobased product. It also won certification from Scientific Certification Systems for raising its level of recycled materials from 50 to 58 percent for “faced” insulation that contains a paper-vapor barrier, and from 50 to 65 percent for unfaced insulation.

“Many people don’t recognize this product as recycled glass,” she said, noting that a typical R-13 batt — the type that would fill a single 14.5-inch cavity in a typical wood-studded home — contains about six beverage bottles worth of recycled glass.

Like its longstanding product had been, the new insulation is sold in stores such as Home Depot.

Local insulation installers say they have noticed the difference, with mixed results.

Tom Elder, owner of Seagate Roofing in Toledo, said his installers have been using EcoTouch products for months and couldn’t be happier.

“It’s not like fiber glass at all. It’s nonsettling. It doesn’t itch. It’s great to work with,” Mr. Elder said.

But Dan Montrie, manager with Quality Insulation Services of Sylvania Township, said his installers used Eco- Touch this week for the first time, while insulating a home in Ottawa Hills.

“My guys thought it was dustier and was a lot flakier,” said Mr. Montrie, whose company has been using OC insulation since it first came on the market. Still, he said, they’ll continue to use it.

“It’s a pink town. We use a lot of pink,” Mr. Montrie said.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at: or 419-724-6091.

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