Conscious that Ecostore’s petrochemical-based bottles didn’t quite fit the company’s environmental credentials, the firm is now making plastic from sugarcane.
When Malcolm and Melanie Rands founded Ecostore in their basement in 1993 their dream was to create a healthier, and more sustainable world.
Today, the company has 74 employees, and exports its range of plant and mineral-based household cleaners, body and baby care products, to six countries; Australia, United States, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
But the Rands believe their new development of being the only New Zealand manufacturer to convert all its proprietary bottles to a plastic made from sugarcane is their company’s greatest achievement yet.
“Plastic is one of the world’s greatest problems and for some time I have been searching for alternatives for Ecostore,” says Malcolm.
“Our petrochemical plastic bottles have been a real bugbear to me. Finding a safer alternative has been a priority and now with sugarcane-based, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) from Brazil becoming available, we are able to manufacture bottles made from sugarcane. This is huge. Not only for me personally, and Ecostore, but for New Zealand and the world.”
Ecostore’s Carbon Capture Pak (plastic) is made from the ethanol found in sugarcane, a fast-growing and sustainable crop. The ethanol goes through a dehydration process and is transformed into ethylene, which is then converted into polyethylene – the plastic Ecostore uses to make its bottles.
Malcolm says 92 percent of each Carbon Capture Pak comes from renewable sugarcane – the rest is mostly colour dye.
“There’s a very good reason why we’re calling this our Carbon Capture Pak,” says Malcolm. “As sugarcane grows it captures CO2 from the atmosphere. That is then stored in the plastic. This natural process actually reduces our carbon footprint, which can help reduce climate change.”
He is aware people may be cynical about this statement, but backs it up with research that shows every kilogram of plastic produced captures and stores two kilograms of CO2. As a comparison, every kilogram of petrochemical plastic, causes 1.83kg of CO2 to be generated.
“If we look at Ecostore’s current production as a whole, we will save 639 tonnes of CO2 each year compared to using the traditional petrochemical plastic,” says Malcolm. “That’s the equivalent of 123,000 daily commutes.
“When you think about it in these terms the impact this could have on our world starts to hit home. People have to remember these savings are just from Ecostore in New Zealand. Imagine if the big companies, not only in New Zealand but around the world, were doing this – the impact on our environment would be significant. It’s definitely something to ponder and we need to be asking the question, why aren’t they?”
Carbon Capture Paks are already appearing on supermarket and health store shelves with the words ‘Carbon Capture’ embossed on the base.
“Customers won’t notice any physical differences at all,” says Malcolm. “Customers can safely recycle them through their council recycling system, which is a key requirement for our conversion. We’ve been working with the Auckland Recycle Centre to ensure it works, which it does.”
Malcolm says this move currently excludes polypropylene bottle caps, bulk stock bottles, and Ecostore lip balms.
“It’s just a matter of time before the technology evolves and we will be able to manufacture all of our products in sugarcane-based HDPE. Right now, 98 percent of our bottled product is converting to sugarcane-based HDPE, and no other company in the world has made a commitment like this.”
Malcolm Rands, co-founder of EcoStore, holds a
bottle made with renewable sugarcane.