Closing the Loop

Method has over 60 products Cradle to Cradle certified across hand wash, cleaning and laundry products making them a global leader in Cradle to Cradle certified products.

EMG found out when talking with METHOD’s co-founder Adam Lowry, the company has in some ways only just begun its journey to prove that sustainability minded business can be a powerful force for good in the world and be profitable as well.

“I’ll start by saying what ‘Progress, not perfection’ is NOT about, and that’s an excuse to do less than absolutely everything you can to innovate around sustainability.

It IS an acknowledgement that actually getting people to follow your lead and adopt your innovations is the most important – and often the trickiest – step in the sustainability process.

What I mean by that is that you could have a perfectly sustainable product, but if nobody uses it, that – in my mind – is not innovative. So what we have to do is create products that are more sustainable but are also products that people love and love to use.

I truly believe adoption is the most important part of the innovation process. Once we have people using our products, that then gives us license to do the next big innovation. This helps us bring consumers with us on the sustainability journey, so we can arrive at our destination quicker than if we spent our time dreaming up the ‘perfect’ product that no-one actually used. So with that backdrop in mind, here are a couple of examples of how we’re doing this.

The first is refills. For a few years now, some stores have offered facilities for customers to refill household cleaning product containers, but this concept has not been achieved on any reasonable scale. The reason for this is because the process hasn’t been designed to actually be more convenient for consumers.

What we’ve done is to create a simple branded refill pouch that merchandises well and is really simple to use in the home, which encourages people to start refilling. If we can get people across the first ‘convenience’ barrier, then we can start implementing this to scale. It’s a good example of how we are putting the ‘Progress, not perfection’ mantra into action.

A second innovation that we are working on is more technological; and that is biosynthetic surfactants. Traditionally, someone designing a cleaning product has the choice between a petrochemical, an oleo chemical or a natural surfactant detergent as the base of their product. The simplistic thought might be that the ‘natural’ product will always be the better one. In most cases that’s true, but the fact is the ‘natural’ choice might not actually be that much more sustainable. While they are not petrochemical, naturally grown ingredients may have high land use impacts. They are a step in the right direction, but they are not the be-all and end-all.

So, one thing that we’re working on is using microscale bioreactors – which are essentially yeast – as microfactories to produce surfactants that are not petrochemical and also have no – or at least very, very little – land use impacts. Like all the stuff that we already use in Method’s cleaning products, they’re nontoxic, biodegradable and people friendly. This is a real technology breakthrough that you’ll start to see in our products in the very near future.”

To read the complete article click EMG speaks with Method Inc Adam Lowry