As brands are increasingly shifting towards more eco-friendly practices, one of the first challenges they are striving to overcome is getting rid of plastic waste associated with packaging. Among the latest to embark on such a zero-waste journey is cleaning product company Seventh Generation, known for its natural products.
The company’s previous sustainability efforts have primarily focused on using more post-consumer products, but recently it decided to step up its efforts by beginning to move away from plastic completely, starting with a new line called Zero Plastic Homecare.
To eliminate plastic in the new line, the company rethought the products themselves. By using non-liquid products, the containers don’t need plastic to act as a “moisture barrier.” “If we remove plastic from the equation, that means removing the liquid from the equation as well,” says Joe Giallanella, who leads the team tasked with achieving plastic-free packaging.
The new product line includes hand soap, kitchen cleaner, and foaming toilet cleaner that all come in a powder instead of a liquid, while the dishwasher detergent comes in tablets.
They’re also used differently than typical cleaning products. A powdered kitchen cleaner, for example, is sprinkled on a wet cloth and rubbed to make a lather (the cleaner can also be added to a bowl of water to make a solution, or sprinkled directly on a dirty surface).
Since the products don’t come in liquid form, it allows the company to avoid the need for plastic to protect them. After considering various options, the team eventually landed on steel as a new packaging material because it’s more likely to be recycled, with a recycling rate of around 70 percent.
The company is launching the line first through Grove Collaborative, an online retailer also focused on sustainability. For Seventh Generation, it’s a chance to test the new products to see how consumers respond.
Over time, as new packaging options become available like water-resistant, plastic-free paper bottles, the company will continue to evaluate new materials. “We’re planning to continually iterate between now and 2025 to make sure that this is as sustainable a product as possible,” says Seventh Generation CEO Joey Bergstein.