Speaker interview with Monica Becker

60 seconds with the Director of Beauty, Personal Care and Household Products at Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute

Q. You will take part of the main conference within a Panel Discussion: “Sustainability in the Cleaning Products Sector”, could you please share with us a quick overview of what we will hear from you during this session?

Sustainability in the Cleaning Products Sector covers many things, including ingredients that are safe for people and the environment from responsibly-sourced and renewable resources, low carbon-intensity manufacturing using renewable energy, and circular packaging design. Companies in the value chain are year after year facing new legislation, consumer demand or investor pressure to address yet another aspect of sustainability. While these single-attribute drivers are moving the industry forward here and there, they have created a patchwork of one-dimension sustainability requirements. Leading companies are increasingly seeking a comprehensive, holistic framework for their sustainability efforts, and their full product range, that can inform their innovation strategy, guide the design of products and packaging, and inform their corporate social responsibility programs.

During the panel, I’ll give an overview Cradle to Cradle Certified™, which is a science-based, multi-attribute sustainability standard that leading companies in this sector are using to design and manufacture products and packaging that are safe, circular and responsible, and provide some examples of how companies are operationalizing their sustainability programs using the framework.

The fourth version of our certification Standard, just launched on March 16, reflects significant advancements in our knowledge of what it takes to make products and packaging with positive impact and will drive the market for years to come.

Q. What are the top three market trends in the Cleaning Products Industry from your point of view?

Focusing on sustainability trends here: New product form factors – concentrated, low-packaging, presumably low-carbon footprint products in, e.g., pods, tablets, powders, laundry sheets; Sustainable/green ingredients – demonstrated safe for people and planet, plant-based, renewable, biodegradable, responsibly-sourced ingredients; Sustainable packaging/packaging systems – recycled content, actually recyclable and compostable where packaging is sold/used, refillable/reuseable, minimal, made from responsibly sourced materials. One bonus trend: Claims that are verified through science-based and robust certification programs (i.e., no greenwashing!).

Q. What is the best approach to meet today’s consumer demands?

Household and professional consumers of cleaning products demand and expect that their cleaning and disinfecting products are safe and effective, and increasingly have a strong sustainability profile beyond these two fundamental attributes. Regarding the formula, the range of possible sustainability attributes is wide, e.g., “natural”, plant-based, organic, responsibly sourced, and what resonates with consumers will depend on age, region and individual preference. Having a verified, credible message on one or several attributes on ingredients is key; as is a credible message about corporate social responsibility.

However increasingly, sustainability attributes of the packaging will be a more visible and perhaps a more perceptible signal to consumers that they are buying a sustainable product. Minimal packaging, recycled content and (actual) recyclability of the packaging, when clearly communicated, sends a strong signal to consumers; convenient and safe ways to refill and reuse packaging are very tangible ways to demonstrate effort to enhance the sustainability profile of a product/packaging system.