Packaging Today speaks with Tom Domen, innovation manager at Ecover, to find out more about Ecover’s latest green formula: is it possible to be a positive force on the planet without any loss of product performance?
What are some of the trends behind Ecover’s new formula? What are its key benefits compared with what is currently available on the market?
Tom Domen: From the very beginning, the environment has been Ecover’s number one priority: there is no Ecover without the environment. All our products have been inspired by the powerful cleaning abilities of nature, and we are passionate about using sustainable ingredients to create brilliant cleaning products.
One of the brand’s key challenges has been to improve the performance of our products as well as our environmental credentials. We have achieved this by looking to nature rather than using unnecessary petroleum-based ingredients found in most conventional cleaners to boost efficiency. A major trend behind the new formulation has been sourcing unusual plant-based material including starch, coco oil and rapeseed (all fully renewable and biodegradable) and transforming them into ingredients using green chemistry.
We are proud to say that Ecover’s new formulation now washes up to 40% more plates compared with previous Ecover formula, and is 99.8% plant-based.
A key benefit of the new formula is that the washing-up liquid now meets consumer demand for cleaning power and sustainability. While we aren’t the only cleaning brand to use ingredients derived from natural sources such as sugar, we do believe we are the only brand to continuously use Mother Nature as our muse and inspiration when developing and improving products. It is this that sets us apart from other brands in the cleaning category.
How has the new formula impacted packaging materials and format?
Nature doesn’t just inspire the contents of Ecover’s bottles: we also use an innovative plastic material called Plantplastic to construct our washing-up bottles. One of the main sources of plastic is petrol, and we have been able to turn to nature to find a renewable alternative. We do this through the harvesting of sugarcane to produce sugar, which is then fermented and distilled to produce ethanol. This ethanol is dehydrated to create ethylene, which is polymerized into Plantplastic.
Plantplastic is a green plastic derived from sugarcane, which is fully renewable, reusable and recyclable. Our washing-up bottles are made up of 75% Plantplastic and 25% recycled plastic. A major advantage of using Plantplastic in our bottles is that the sugarcane is grown and harvested in harmony with its natural environment. The entire production process is so efficient that we only need to harvest 15ha of land to make a year’s worth of Ecover packaging.
Some consumers’ worry whether green products can be achieve in harmony with improved performance. How has Ecover addressed this concern?
We’re aware that some customers still need convincing that green can clean, so we are constantly striving to simultaneously improve the environmental credentials and performance of our products. One big challenge for the business has been to change consumer perception and create better awareness about the effectiveness of the brand.
Getting our products into consumers’ hands and putting Ecover’s new and improved washing-up liquid to the test is key to showing that green cleaning doesn’t need to be a compromise.
Where do you feel the next innovation will come from in cleaning packaging?
This is an exciting time for Ecover, as we are constantly discovering innovative ways to improve our green credentials and the performance of our products. Going forward, we’ll continue to look to nature to create the most powerful cleaning products for the home and for busy lives. Our long-term aim will be to create 100% plant-based formulations for all our products, and to increase the amount of recycled material in all our bottles and packaging. Last year, we launched our ocean plastic washing-up liquid bottle, collecting 10t of sea plastic from several European seas and the Mediterranean to produce 15,000 bottles. We remain committed to sourcing ocean plastic as a valuable resource, and will be announcing news about this year’s ocean plastic bottle in autumn.
What aspect of this new product and launch are you most proud of?
Staying true to our commitment to the environment is what I am most proud of in Ecover’s new and improved washing-up liquid. We have spent considerable time with our scientific team to develop a washing-up liquid that is 99.8% plant-based.