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Bronze Medal Recipient

2010 Best in Category: Home Organization, Laundry Care & Non-Electric Cleaning Products

Batten Industries

Nellie's PVC free Dryerballs

Nellie’s PVC-free Dryerballs from parent company Batten Industries garnered the most 2010 Housewares Design Awards: three. The product won “Best in Category” in the Home Organization, Laundry and Non-Electric Cleaning category, a “Greenhouse Award,” for its eco-friendly properties, and a “Best of the Best– Bronze” award.

“Design is huge; there’s nothing more important to a company of our [small] size; it’s our advantage and it gets 75% of our attention. We need to break the ice and we need to get the customer to us,” said James Roberts, owner of Batten Industries. “We had to differentiate ourselves in what has become a commodity product in the market,” he said, without the advertising budget of a larger company.

Nellie’s second-generation Dryerballs are now PVC-free, made with a new thermoplastic rubber material that, according to the company, has “far less” impact on the environment in the manufacturing process and is readily recyclable. Roberts also said that the material is longer-lasting than PVC as well, “The consumer can reuse the product as opposed to disposing; that’s a benefit.”

The dryerballs eliminate the need for consumers to spend money on chemical fabric softeners and disposable dryer sheets, while reducing drying time 15-25%, saving energy, according to the company, two attributes designed to appeal to today’s eco-friendly and economy-conscious consumers.

Utilizing the thermoplastic rubber material allowed Batten to utilize injection molding which broadened the company’s design capabilities when creating the dryerballs, said Roberts. It allowed the company to create “paddles” on the dryerball that are “designed to get deeper into your fabrics and towels to relax the fibers,” than other dryerball “nodules” on the market, said Roberts. The balls are said to not only soften the fabric, but reduce wrinkles, ironing and prevent static electricity.

The injection molding also allows the company to create a space for the optional fragrance sticks, which are designed to disperse fragrance when the dryer gets hot. The fragrances come in four varieties – Lavender, Simply Fresh, Linen and Citrus, and are made from soy wax and 100% essential oils, giving consumers an alternative to the synthetic fragrances of dryer sheets on the market. Fragrance sticks come 10 per bottle and each stick will last up to 10 loads, depending on fabrics and drying time. “The Nellie’s brand is driven by making the right decisions of what we make the product and packaging out of [such as recyclable cardboard or metal],” said Roberts.

The company also offers non-toxic, environmentally friendly cleaning products for the laundry and kitchen. “Across the board, designing a green item or otherwise, design is incredibly important,” Roberts concluded.

?— by Lisa Cowley

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