Element - - Business -

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.

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