Business Investment Opportunity: WRAP Study Validates EcoCover’s Environmental Claims

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The Waste & Resource Action Program (WRAP), a UK government agency tasked with the responsibility to accelerate resource efficiency by creating efficient markets for recycled materials and products, has completed an independent study of EcoCover, a biodegradable alternative to plastic mulch, and given the product an unqualified thumbs up. Now it's even soliciting foreign investors on EcoCover’s behalf.

When Murray Cruickshank, the CEO of EcoCover International, a manufacturer that introduced its biodegradable agricultural mulch product to the world this past May, was naturally excited to learn that the Waste & Resources Action Program (WRAP), the United Kingdom’s equivalent of the U.S.’s Environmental Protection Agency, was going to independently validate the company’s claims. "When we first learned that the agency had been commissioned to conduct an independent study of EcoCover, we were naturally delighted. Now that the £ 20,000 study is complete and the agency has validated our claims, we’re hoping at least one of the investor groups we are currently negotiating with will open a plant in the UK."

Cruickshank isn’t alone in expressing that hope. As a result of the study, WRAP has initiated a new program - the Inward Investment Project, a program specifically designed to stimulate foreign interest in building an EcoCover recycling plant in the UK. In its "Investors in Recycling" newsletter Dr. Bevis Watts, WRAP’s Business and Finance Manager describes the agency’s initiative as a means to "encourage overseas companies [investors] to apply innovative business models and expertise in recycling technologies to the UK market."

Having recently finalized negotiations for the construction of its first plant in Europe in early October 2005, the agency's initiative couldn't come at a better time. Cruickshank is confident that this latest in a growing list of validation studies will serve as the impetus to "close the deal" with a number of other investors around the world. "Right now investors in Greece, South Africa, United States (three separate groups), Spain, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Brazil, Australia, Thailand, India, Middle East and Austria are in various stages of doing their due diligence and we’re confident that a number of them will come on board within the next six months," he says.

WRAP’s study is only the most recent of a number of other unqualified national and international governmental, semi-governmental, and environmental agency endorsements. EcoCover has received the coveted endorsement of AgriQuality, New Zealand’s leading organic certifier, as well as the right to display the prestigious label "Environmental Choice New Zealand" (ECNZ is a GEN Member of the international eco-label accrediation body). EcoCover is the first paper mulch in the world to gain an eco-label license.

AgriQuality, New Zealand's leading organic certifier has approved EcoCover in respect of granting organic certification. AgriQuality is a fully accredited member of IFOAM, The International Federation of Agricultural Movements.

Founded in Switzerland in 1972, IFOAM has more than 750 member organizations and institutions accredited to it, from more than 100 countries. The Environmental Choice Label License is all important because it opens doors. "Governments or companies subscribing to a ‘Buy Green’ or ‘Greening of Purchasing’ policy use such accreditation to determine their preferred suppliers.

EcoCover is also regarded as environmentally beneficial (not neutral) and the New Zealand Government through the Ministry for the Environment has 19 core Government agencies including the country's largest roading landscape enterprise signed up to this standard. A company with the approved accreditation such as the Environmental Choice Label become preferred suppliers to all such agencies. EcoCover is only the 13th company in New Zealand to meet the demanding audit requirements for this License. The standard is measured against the three pillars of sustainability, namely environmental, economic and social. EcoCover excels in each category.

An alternative to plastic agricultural mulch covers, EcoCover solves a myriad of problems faced by commercial growers and landscapers and it is environmentally friendly. "EcoCover is not only compostable and biodegradable, it conserves water, reduces plant mortality, controls weeds, promotes plant growth, moderates soil temperature, reduces soil erosion, eliminates or reduces herbicide use and can also be used to carry beneficial soil additives," Cruickshank says. "This makes EcoCover the only environmentally friendly, sustainable agricultural mulch mat in the world. Its attributes make it the ultimate solution for a variety of problems."

The product is produced as a patented composite laminate from paper that would otherwise be introduced into the waste stream. "To our way of thinking, the fact that EcoCover is manufactured using landfill waste makes it the perfect environmentally sustainable product. Unlike traditional agricultural mulch and plastic agricultural mulch covers, it doesn’t have a single negative attribute," he says.

Cruickshank believes that while the developed world is currently preoccupied with concerns about energy supplies, sooner or later it’s going to have to deal with what the underdeveloped world is already coming to grips with and that’s a growing shortage of fresh water. "EcoCover allows growers to make more efficient use of limited water resources, reducing usage by as much as 80%. In addition, it also reduces and in most instances eliminates the need to use herbicides which prevents the contamination of local groundwater supplies."

Currently, the only truly effective agricultural mulch covers available to commercial growers are made of plastic and, as derivative petroleum products; they are not only increasingly expensive, they have limited application and present several unique handling problems. "Aside from the fact that polyethylene mulch mats share few of EcoCover’s positive attributes,

landscapers increasingly dislike introducing further plastic on the landscape and farmers are fed up with the high cost and hassle of removing plastic from their fields. Many are also facing two additional problems - increasing landfill charges and outright refusals to landfill the material at all," he says.

EcoCover solves both of these problems. Since the product is 100% biodegradable, it doesn’t have to be removed let alone disposed of. Its use also reduces paper and plastic waste which accounts for more than 40% of most landfills.

EcoCover's use is not defined by geography, climate or industry. The product has been tested in a variety of climates and has proven to be a valuable means to insulate soil and plant roots in colder climates. In arid climates it provides growers the means to reduce water consumption and to sustain soil moisture

To learn more about the UK’s Waste & Resource Acton Program and “The Inward Investment Project” visit http://www.wrap.org.uk/. Investors who are examining sustainable business investment opportunities are also encouraged to add EcoCover to their list of possibilities.

To obtain further information as well as a sample of the product itself, interested parties are encouraged to contact one of the company’s regional representatives. Their contact information is provided at http://www.EcoCover.com.

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Murray Cruickshank
ECOCOVER
64 0 9 836 3338
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