Published in the Press Dispensary 2013-10-25
The Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard provides designers and manufacturers with a unique framework for sustainable innovation, where the aim is to create products that have a positive impact on society and the environment, rather than one that is merely less negative. Method cleaning products, widely available in shops and supermarkets throughout the UK, have more than 60 products Cradle to Cradle Certified. One of their recent breakthroughs is to make product packaging from ocean waste. And if you think you can tell the difference, you’re probably wrong!
The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute spoke with Adam Lowry, co-founder and 'chief greenskeeper of Method.
Please tell us more about the ‘ocean plastic bottle’. How did the idea come about?
When you study the problem of ocean pollution – which is mostly plastic – what you learn is that the only real solution is prevention. As you and I know, there's no practical way of going there and cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s not an island; it's a soup, so the main issue is that any clean-up effort is impractical. The real solution is preventing the plastic from getting into the ocean in the first place. And if you're going to do that, one of the very best ways to do it is simply to use the plastic that's already on the planet.
However, recycling rates in the US and UK are very low. It's estimated that less than half - perhaps as low as 25% - of plastic gets recycled, which means for every pound of plastic that's recycled, three pounds end up in landfill or in the environment somewhere. So what we need to get better at is closing the material loop, and using the plastic that’s already on the planet.
This is something that Method has done for many years. There's no virgin plastic material in any of the PET we make. On its own, this is not something that's very interesting for the mainstream consumer to think about. So what we wanted to achieve through the ocean plastic project was simultaneously raise awareness about this important issue and point to the solution.
Essentially, we have created a product that people said would be impossible. People would say: there's no way you can take plastic out of the middle of the ocean and make useable, recyclable packaging from it. Well, we've done just that, and you can buy it at your regular supermarket. By demonstrating that the impossible is possible, we're removing the excuse that any company has for not using 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, like we do.
How about what's inside? Can that have a positive influence on the environment as well?
There is a general belief - often perpetuated by the media - that only harsh chemicals can remove harsh stains. However, Method is proving that this is not the case.
I have a four year old, so I’m very familiar with the issue of harsh stains! The idea that a product has to be full of 'dirty' chemicals in order to clean something is really an outdated mindset.
I would like to ask consumers simply to challenge their assumptions that only the products with harsh chemicals will get something clean. I would encourage them to give products like Method a try, of course; but it's not just us. There are many other high quality products in many different categories that are sustainably designed and still perform highly.
In time, what would you like Method to be remembered for?
I would like Method to be seen as the company that proved that business can be good for the world. I would also like people to look back and see that we did it in one of the most uninteresting consumer categories there is!
What I mean by that is simply that people don't think about cleaning products very much. But if you can make beautiful, high performance, highly sustainable products in a category as commoditized as household cleaning and be successful, then you can do it anywhere!
Hopefully, 50 years from now, the majority of businesses and in all sorts of categories will have followed our lead, and together we will have created a world where business is the driving force behind sustainable change.
To find out more about Cradle to Cradle products and Cradle to Cradle product certification, visit www.c2c-certified.org.
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Notes for editors
The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, a non-profit organization, administers the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard. It was created to bring about a new industrial revolution that turns the making of things into a positive force for society, economy, and the planet. The continuous improvement quality standard was gifted to the Institute by William McDonough and Michael Braungart after more than 20 years of development with some of the world’s leading brands. For more information, visit: http://www.c2c-certified.org.
Founded in 2000, Method is headquartered in San Francisco, Calif. Today, Method is the leading innovator of premium eco-conscious home and personal care products. Method can be found in more than 40,000 retail locations throughout North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. For more information, visit: http://www.methodproducts.co.uk/
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