Skip to Content

News and Events

News Release

University of Cincinnati Team Wins $25,000 Grand Prize in Staples Global EcoEasy Challenge
Expert Panel Names Team Silver Monkey's Revolutionary EcoEasy Button As 2011's Top "Green" Office Product Concept


Staples, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLS), the world's largest office products company, in collaboration with the Rochester Institute of Technology's (RIT) Golisano Institute for Sustainability, today announced the winners of the Staples Global EcoEasy Challenge - an international search to find the most innovative concepts for office products that promote sustainability or use environmentally preferable materials. A student team from the University of Cincinnati won the EcoEasy Challenge top prize for their EcoEasy Button concept, winning $25,000 and royalties should their concept be brought to market. HD video from the award ceremony will be available for download at 4 p.m. ET today at

University of Cincinnati Silver Monkey team members Brandon Leedy, Alex Pellegrino, Kyle Koch and James Matchett presented their EcoEasy Button yesterday to the judges. The EcoEasy Button is an evolution in surge protector design made of environmentally preferable materials, and can be placed on the user's desk for easy access. It also alerts users when their devices have been draining energy for extended periods of time.

"All of the students, who came from around the world and represented their schools so well, give Staples and its partners in sustainability great hope for the future," said Mark Buckley, vice president of environmental affairs, Staples. "Their fresh ideas and innovative spirit are an inspiration to us at Staples, our environmentally conscious customers and the greater business community."

"Young, smart, ambitious students are often the creative core of inventive ideas that spark simple solutions, such as the EcoEasy Button, for the office or for complex problems outside of it," said Dr. Nabil Nasr, assistant provost and director of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at RIT. "We learn from the students who participate in the challenge as much as they receive an education from being a part of it."

In addition, the panel of expert judges named team Cyrus from Nanyang Technological University as a runner-up. University of Cincinnati Silver Monkey's Folio concept was also selected as a runner-up in the challenge. Each of the teams will receive the runner-up prize of $5,000 and royalties should their concept be brought to market.

The teams and product concepts named runners-up are:

  • Nanyang Technological University, team Cyrus, presented an Adjustable Standard Binder made of recycled materials. The binder can expand to hold 200 to 600 sheets of paper, equivalent to one- to three-inch binders. When the binder fills up, the user simply adjusts the binder to fit more paper instead of buying a new one.
  • University of Cincinnati, team Silver Monkeys, presented the Folio, a portfolio-style binder that is about half the size of a three-ring binder, and secures paper so it won't slip out as it can when in a folder. The Folio is made of a material that not only allows it to expand to fit both smaller and larger amounts of paper, it's also reusable.

The Staples Global EcoEasy Challenge attracted 86 entries from 27 student teams studying at 15 universities in eight countries.

The panel of experts who judged the entries included:

  • Nancy Lublin, chief executive officer,
  • Bill McElnea, leader of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative
  • Dr. Nabil Nasr, assistant provost and director, Golisano Institute for Sustainability at RIT
  • Bill Roth, a nationally followed columnist in Triple Pundit and The Green Economy Post as well as the founder of Earth 2017
  • Kate Swann, chief operating officer, Frog Design - a technology and design firm
  • Mark Buckley, vice president of environmental affairs, Staples
  • Dave D'Angelo, senior vice president of Staples Brands Group

About Staples Environmental Commitment

Staples long-standing commitment to sustainable business practices is based on key environmental cornerstones: recycling, offering a wide assortment of eco-preferable products, investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy and educating customers and associates about sustainability. Through its EcoEasy commitment, Staples makes it easy for customers to make a difference for the environment by offering more than 3,000 eco-preferable products and providing everyday, in-store recycling for computers, office technology, personal electronics and ink and toner cartridges. For more on Staples environmental initiatives, please visit

About Staples

Staples is the world's largest office products company and a trusted source for office solutions. The company provides products, services and expertise in office supplies, copy & print, technology, facilities and breakroom, and furniture. Staples invented the office superstore concept in 1986 and now has annual sales of $25 billion, ranking second in the world in eCommerce sales. With 90,000 associates worldwide, Staples operates in 26 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia, making it easy for businesses of all sizes, and consumers. The company is headquartered outside Boston. More information about Staples (Nasdaq: SPLS) is available at

Follow Staples on Twitter at and on Facebook at

About the Golisano Institute for Sustainability

The Golisano Institute for Sustainability was formed in 2007 thanks to a $10 million gift from Paychex found and Chairman B. Thomas Golisano. The institute currently houses one of the world's first Ph.D. programs in sustainable production and is developing master's degrees in sustainable systems and sustainable architecture. It also conducts cutting edge research in nanotechnology, alternative energy development and validation, sustainable design and pollution prevention and works with a host of businesses and state and federal agencies including Xerox Corp., Eastman Kodak Company, General Motors, Staples, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available:

SOURCE: Staples, Inc.

Staples, Inc.
Nina Akerley, 508-253-1078
Tilson Communications
Jackie Guzman, 561-998-1995