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May 08, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Green Llama is now using trigger sprays created from recycled windmill blades

The Johnson City start-up forged the relationship with Knoxville-based Carbon Rivers during last year's "Spark Cleantech Accelerator."

There’s an old adage about timing being everything.

Well, that was certainly the case with Kay Baker of Johnson City-based Green Llama during her time last summer as a participant in the inaugural “Spark Cleantech Accelerator” at the University of Tennessee Research Park.

Baker and Matt Keasey, her husband who is also Green Llama’s Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, are on a mission to provide safe and effective cleaning solutions to the world while minimizing harm to the environment. As described in this August 2022 article, the couple wanted to recreate as much as possible the environmentally-friendly experience that the milkman from days gone provided by delivering milk in glass bottles and retrieving those bottles on his next visit to resupply the customers.

While Green Llama uses glass bottles, there’s also the matter of how to get the cleaning material from the bottle to the surface to be cleaned. That’s where a trigger spray comes into play, and those devices are typically 100 percent plastic as well as frequently the weakest component in refillable surface cleaning products.

Ironically or perhaps fortuitously, one of the other participants in the accelerator was Ryan Ginder of Windfall, a start-up associated with Carbon Rivers, a Knoxville start-up. The focus of that company was on recycling windmill blades so that they would not end up in landfills.

As Baker relates how Green Llama and Carbon Rivers started collaborating, she says, “We had a presentation, and I had a lightbulb moment. I looked up at Ryan and asked if they could make us a trigger spray from wind turbine blades. That was the beginning. Ryan asked for trigger sprays to tear down, which we supplied. He started speaking with Eva (Li, Chief Engineering Officer at Carbon Rivers), and the ball continued to roll.”

Green Llama has just announced what it describes as “a revolutionary change to our refillable product line.” Through a partnership with Carbon Rivers, the Johnson City start-up is now using recycled trigger sprays that contain glass fiber, making them stronger, more robust, and more durable. They also use less plastic than traditional sprayers, reducing waste.

“We decided to turn the weakest part of our products (the plastic trigger spray) into one of its strongest quite literally,” said Keasey. “We’ve found an innovative use for expired wind turbine blades and post-consumer waste.”

Baker and Keasey believe that Green Llama’s innovative approach could have a significant impact on reducing plastic waste and create a circular economy for these blades to be turned into countless future products.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: May 12 is the deadline to apply for the second cohort of the “Spark Cleantech Accelerator.” More information and a link to the application can be found here.)

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