Location: San Diego, USA

Sector: Manufacture – Transformation, End of life

This company makes building materials and products which are regenerative, recyclable, compostable and with a lower carbon footprint.


ECOR  : Enabling – Co-Creation – Co-Operation – Co-Responsibility, is a brand and a technology developed by NOBLE (formal name of the company) in conjunction with the US Department of Agriculture. Noble Environmental Technologies is a company, founded in 2005, which develops high-value waste conversion technologies, advanced green building materials and provides closed-loop enterprise solutions.

NOBLE is headquartered in San Diego, California. After almost 10 years of product, process, equipment, and organizational development, NOBLE opened its first large-scale ECOR production facility in Serbia in 2014 with an annual production capacity of over 4,300,000 million square feet.
Over the past few years, NOBLE established subsidiaries and affiliates in Serbia, The Netherlands and Turkey.

  • Agriculture waste cost : 115 $ / ton (to send it to the landfill, burn it or incinerate it);
  • Cardboard recycling cost : 1,5 $ / ton;
  • 12 salaries in the company;
  • Process : use of 1 unit of fiber for 9 units of water;
  • Transformation of 35 000 million tons of fiber per year (by the first facility at full production);
  • Retail cost of a single basic ECOR Panel: $15.20.


In 2010, the company collected 31 million tons of Cardboard boxes !

Project operation

It exists different family of waste:

  • steels and metals,
  • rocks and ciments,
  • glass,
  • plastics,
  • woods and cellulose.


The cellulose family represents the main quantity of waste. Currently, most of the wood material is non recyclable because of all chemical treatments realized on it. That’s why, it’s often toxic to recycle it: glue used for furnitures or plywood can reject volatile organic compounds as formaldehyde, a carcinogenic substance. With the population growth, there are more and more waste and the population needs materials to build houses, hence: convert cellulose into healthy building materials (ECOR). ECOR is an environmental composite panel: 100% bio-based, 100% comprised of recycled waste materials, 100% recyclable, and is cradle-to-cradle compliant (cradle to cradle certification : ).

The fiber waste they use, ordinally burned or landfilled, are sourced from :

  • urban areas : old cardboard, office waste and newsprint ;
  • agricultural areas : wheat straw, cow pies, hemp, jute, sugar cane bagasse ;
  • forest areas : waste wood fiber.


The material is only made from a mixture of fibers and water, using a simple process (Figure 1) of adding heat and pressure: no chemicals, petroleum or toxic additives. The process use 1 unit of fiber for 9 units of water and 90% of the water used is recycled.

Figure 1. ECOR panels process

They manufacture ECOR panels at owned factories (located at the source of waste) and have plans to build many more factories that they own and sell the produced ECOR panels, and value added products, to customers and distribution partners. They also are advancing ECOR facilities that will be focused on meeting the specific ends of a single customer, some of these facilities will be licensed to the customer (they will design and construct it for them, and in some cases may also manage it for them). Some of these customer-focused facilities will also be owned by the Company, when the customer does not want to license/own/manage the operation, but is willing to issue a financeable long-term purchase contract. In some cases, this customer will also be contributing their waste for the feedstock of the facility.
ECOR, designed to be light-weight, high performance and less expensive. Indeed, ECOR can be manufactured and sold for a lower cost than the specific materials it is competing against in a range of applications: so they have a deep product portfolio with a range of pricing, but in most cases their material can be sold for several pennies less per square foot and provide the Company higher margins. This material can be used to make stairs, architectural elements, store displays, chairs, hangers or even kids joys.

ECOR panels (Figures 2 and 3) are available in a wide range of configurations, in a variety of colors and with several chemical treatments to enhance fire, acoustic, and moisture performance. They have also tested a range of sustainable, low-VOC, and/or recyclable alternatives to traditional treatments, which they encourage their customers to consider.
In addition, Ecor has created a partnership with Heineken, they use spent grain from company distillers and their office papers for creating furnitures used by the company itself.

Sustainable approach

  • Cellulose waste are recycled, moreover with a less carbon footprint than usually. Most of the time waste are burned, incinerated or buried in a landfill which provokes air and soil pollutions.
  • The transformation takes place at the source of waste, which further reduces carbon footprint by a transport limitation.
    • Hundred of millions of dollars;
    • More economic for farmers and foresters. Usually, they have to paid for the treatment of their waste. For instance, agricultural waste can be incinerated, burnt or put in a landfill, in average it can cost 100 euros per tone.
    • New jobs created.

    To give you an idea, the cost for a basic ECOR panel is 15.20$. They’ve been selling a set of 3 nesting riser boxes to Ann Taylor for:

    • Large: $78;  
    • Medium: $68;  
    • Small: $58;   
    • and a total for set:  $204.00.

Replicability & future perspectives

Creating partnerships is not so difficult, however like any sales process – the first few deals take much longer than one would prefer, because they are doing something complex and new. But there is a global demand for their solutions that surpass their bandwidth, and substantial interest and excitement within the companies they have partnered with (and with those we have pushed off, until they are bigger and can dedicate time and resources to those partnerships)
Indeed, recycling is now a social obligation, municipalities spend a lot of money for collecting and recycling waste. Some waste, hardly recyclable, are sent in China because we don’t know what to do with these waste. The idea of ECOR allows to building materials, using these waste and a local fabrication, in favour of the unemployment. We can find fiber waste, everywhere in countries.

  • Consumption of certain quantity of water and energy;
  • Currently, most of wood materials are non recyclable because of all the chemical treatments that are used on them.

NOBLE would like to:

  • combine cellulose and recycled plastic for creating more new materials;
  • improve water and fire resistances of their materials;
  • expand its annual production to over 32,000,000 square feet. They are in discussions to open additional production facilities and R&D facilities in Europe, the United States and Mexico.

Moreover, they are currently working with Fetzer (vineyard) to create bottles boxes.

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