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Fantastic Plant-astic

Tomorrow’s Cleaning’s Eve Douglas, spoke to Ecover to find out why its revolutionary new packaging has eliminated the need for plastic bottles, proving that, sometimes, it isn’t just what’s on the inside that counts.

Most people would agree that plastic packaging can be a problem, not least because it clutters up the house or office, but also because it’s made from crude oil. Everyone knows the problems associated with oil spills and pollution, so, for the last three years, Ecover have been working hard to create an alternative packaging solution that starts to address some of these issues.

By harnessing the power of nature and applying a little “clever science”, Ecover have implemented an innovative green plastic, made from sugarcane, that’s 100% renewable, reusable and recyclable and goes by the catchy name of Plant-astic.

Now, with other companies hot on their eco-friendly heels, using up to 30% renewable plastic for their packaging, Ecover have gone one step further and are set to make all of the bottles in their range 100% Plant-astic. “From now on,” Steve Mitchell, Sales Director at Ecover, commented, “all our product packaging is manufactured from Plant-astic, showing that there are more ecological and sustainable packaging choices if you look for them.”

Manufacturing Plant-astic is really quite simple. The sugarcane is harvested to produce sugar, which is fermented and distilled to

SUSTAINABLE CLEANING 44 | TOMORROW’S CLEANING | The future of our cleaning industry

produce ethanol. This ethanol is dehydrated to create ethylene, which is polymerized into Plant-astic. Because the sugarcane is grown and harvested in its natural environment, the nearby Amazonian rainforests remain unaffected. The entire production process is so efficient that Ecover only need to harvest 15 hectares of land to make a year’s worth of Plant-astic packaging.

And it’s not only through their product packaging that Ecover manage their carbon footprint. Their products and their factory are also totally sustainable and eco-friendly. Steve said: “Sustainability is a top priority for Ecover, from the sourcing of ingredients to the transportation of our finished products; we look for the most sustainable choice.”

Ecover’s factory: the facts

Energy supply The Ecover factory operates entirely on green electricity – the type produced by wind generators, tidal generators and other natural sources. So although the machinery they use is standard within the industry, they keep their energy and water consumption down by choosing low-speed appliances that can multi-task and don’t require water to clean them.

Waste Ecover hate waste, and it probably comes as no surprise that they are big on recycling. Until the launch of Plant-astic, Ecover mangaed to keep the amount of packaging they used in their products to a minimum, and made sure whatever they used could be recycled, re-used or re-filled.

Design The factory is cleverly designed to follow the movement of the sun from east to west and works under the maximum amount of natural daylight. The factory’s frame is built from pine rather than more precious timbers and the walls are constructed using Poro+ bricks which are made from clay, wood pulp and coal fine.

Roof The roof of the factory is covered in thick, spongy Sedum which gives great insulation all year round. So effective is the Sedum roof that they don’t need heating or air conditioning - the temperature never drops below 4°C and never rises above 26°C.

Absorption Not many cleaning products disappear when you pull the plug, so Ecover make sure they protect their waterways by ensuring their products disappear all the way once you’ve finished. They like to think of it as protecting the fishes while you do the dishes.

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