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Published: Friday, 9/24/2010

Grant gives inventor cash to stash trash

BY SHEENA HARRISON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
The Smart Binz prototype was voted best of its category for a Pepsi Refresh Project award. The Smart Binz prototype was voted best of its category for a Pepsi Refresh Project award.
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A local entrepreneur is to receive a grant from soft-drink company PepsiCo that will help him start a line of ecofriendly recycling bins.

Smart Binz Corp. of Toledo won a $50,000 grant in August through the Pepsi Refresh Project, which gives money for ideas that help communities. Company President Christopher Harris expects to receive the first of two grant disbursements at the end of this month.

Smart Binz are recycling receptacles with solar-powered, LED-light displays on the side, which can be used for advertising or other signage. The bins, which are not yet in production, will be made out of 80 percent recycled plastic.

Mr. Harris said the Pepsi grant will allow him to develop his prototype and create up to 150 Smart Binz for market testing. If all goes well, he expects to start by spring selling to customers, such as colleges and municipalities.

"We hope this goes on to make millions of dollars," said Mr. Har-ris, who is an administrator at the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.

Pepsi Refresh grants are decided by the number of votes each idea receives in one month on the program's Web site.

Grant candidates must fit into at least one of six general categories: education, arts and culture, food and shelter, health, environment, and neighborhood improvement.

Thirty-two grants were awarded last month, ranging from $5,000 to $250,000.

Pepsi spokesman Adrienne Caruso said each grant recipient will work with a grant manager who makes sure the money is spent responsibly.

The Refresh grant could help the Toledo firm leverage more funding for its product development, Mr. Harris said.

The company aims to hire up to 35 employees in northwest Ohio and sell 1,000 bins by the end of next year. Each bin, which would be produced here, will be priced from $750 to $790.

Contact Sheena Harrison at:

sharrison@theblade.com

or 419-724-6103.



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