Product and marketing innovation in the chemicals sector (detergents and cleaners)
Planet (Rolco company) produces ecological fabric and household care detergents and cleaners that ensure effective cleaning action while minimise environmental impacts. Product eco-innovation refers to the use of: i) plant-based active ingredients not deriving from petroleum; ii) biodegradable tension-actives for minimum impact to the aquatic life, as tension-actives biodegrade to carbon dioxide, water and inorganic salts; iii) a phosphate and boron free formula that protects the aquatic environments from euphtrophication; and iv) 100% recyclable and user-safe packaging ensuring re-use and waste reduction. The product is marketed solely on the basis of its environment friendly merits; this is reflected in the product design, promotion and fully recyclable packaging (marketing innovation). The Planet products address both household and industrial applications, varying from laundry powder and fabric softener to dish-washing liquid, all purpose cleaners and surface cleaners. In its second year of operation, market share reached a significant 5%, almost double the 2008 total market share of eco-friendly cleaning products in the US (3%).
Market niche: Increasing environmental awareness created a market opportunity for Rolco to become the first company in Greece to launch detergents with fully biodegradable ingredients and major benefits for the environment; this was seen as a market niche where the company would have an advantage against large multi-national competitors.
Knowledge: The existence of an R&D section and related culture in the company, provided for adequate innovation potential.
Green ethics: A vision to protect the environment by supporting integrated management and protection of water resources as outlined in Water Framework Directive 2000/60, as well as by promoting waste reduction and recycling.
Cost: The cost of ingredients (being the outcome of new research) is relatively high. Moreover, conventional technology used by competition with low environmental awareness, is much cheaper than that used for the production of the eco-innovative environment friendly detergents and cleaners.
Planet home care products are certified by the EU Eco-Label; they contain ingredients derived from vegetable oils (as opposed to petrochemicals) and phosphate free ingredients of high biodegradability, thus not contributing to the eutrophication phenomenon. In addition to the products’ “environment friendly” character, the company implements several processes and practices that contribute to the reduction or prevention of potential risks for the environment: use of natural gas as the primary source of energy in the plant, waste water treatment and recycling, use of dust control, lighting and waste management systems.