More and more people are realizing that cleaning, lawn care, and other household products made from non-toxic, biodegradable materials like plant extracts are improving all the time. And the products are finding their way into traditional grocery and hardware stores. Though many of the companies that make them have been working hard to minimize the impact of packaging, there's one particular design that reflects the principles of dMASS well. A company called Replenish has introduced a new packaging design that delivers the function people are looking with much less mass and, if widely adopted, will eliminate the use of millions of tons of petrochemicals and fuels that contribute nothing to the value of the product.
The innovation is a reusable PET spray bottle that mounts on a pod, which contains a concentrated cleaning liquid. You mix the concentrated cleaner with water at home. The pod contains enough of the concentrate to refill the bottle four times.
This innovative bottle is terrific for many reasons. If it becomes a standard, it can dramatically reduce the total number of bottles manufactured. This means a reduction in the the amount of petrochemicals required for making bottles. It also means less energy needed to extract, transport, refine, and process the petroleum to make the bottles.
But there is much more. Bottles of household cleaner typically contain mostly water and very little cleaner. To my knowledge, no one has calculated the gross energy requirements of shipping water around in diluted domestic cleaning products. But the amount of energy devoted to moving that water around from factory to warehouse to store and home is enormous - and unnecessary. This bottle eliminates the use of energy for shipping this water around, eliminating mass required throughout the supply chain.
And there's another potential benefit. PET is what is called a reorient-able material. That means when the material is stretched by pressure under heat in an thermal molding process, it is possible to reorient the thin layers of molecules into thin screens that when properly controlled create extreme strength with less material. One of the reasons PET is used for beer and soda is that the material can be oriented to hold enormous pressures of carbonation. This is important because further advances in packaging could reduce the amount of material invested in the bottle in itself without compromising quality or life.
It's not clear whether Replenish plans to use this bottle for its own products only or license the technology to its competitors as well. This is the dilemma faced by many companies with innovative technologies. But surely the widespread adoption of more dMASS solutions like this will be beneficial.