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Leif Christensen was in knots about his dingy newsprint--until he turned to his company's chemical supplier, Buckman Labs, for help solving the mystery of why it wasn't getting a whiter shade of white. Christensen, president of Manistique Papers Inc. in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, realized shortly after the company opened its recycling mill that the peroxide it was using to remove ink from old magazines wasn't doing the job. Christensen told Buckman sales reps, and they immediately posted a message describing the problem on Buckman's Internet discussion group. Within hours, other Buckman reps in Finland and Belgium helped find the culprit--rare bacteria that breaks down peroxide--and notified Christensen immediately with an antidote. Total time elapsed? Roughly 48 hours. In the past, this kind of problem-solving might have taken weeks--if it happened at all.
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