Steps towards Sustainable, Zero Waste Production

eco+amour

11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

The innovation isn't a single innovation but a business model of how to sell goods sustainably. This is through having prepackaged items that are biodegradable is that these items that can easily go back into the Earth because of the lack of packaging associated with them. Furthermore, for refill products, when customers bring in their own containers it completely removes the aspect of waste resulting for packaging. This business model allows people to be more responsible in their consumption by providing responsibly produced products.

Author

Mahum Kamran

Mahum Kamran

School

York University- Schulich School of Business

York University- Schulich School of Business

Professor

Charles Cho

Charles Cho

Innovation

The most important part of having a sustainable business model, on top of having the selling methods listed below, is to have a culture of committed employees who truly believe in the cause.

eco+amour provides two different types of products, prepackaged goods with little packaging and refill products, both of which can be found in-store and online. Prepackaged biodegradable products are alternatives to non-sustainable items or single use plastics. For example, the store has silicon and stainless steel straws instead of single use plastic straws that are found in coffee stores. These items already have very low packaging amounts, but if a customer is unable to recycle their packaging through the city's regular recycling system, the store takes back the packaging and recycles it for them. Through this process, the store ensures that the waste associated with consumption process is decreased.

The second aspect through which the store does this is through its refillery or the refill products. To purchase refill items, customers bring clean, dry containers to fill up with the specific product they are looking for. The store currently has over 80 items that can be refilled. Refill products are priced by weight. The container gets weighed by itself, then the customer fills the container with their desired product, then at the checkout the weight of the container is subtracted from the total weight, and as a result you pay for your net weight. One of the concerns with refill containers is that if a person is purchasing sustainable products each time, they are not really decreasing their waste and consumption. For customers who do not have containers available to them at the moment, eco+amour loan out any glass jars for a small deposit and upon return of the jars they get back their deposit for the jars.

Furthermore, because all of the products in and of themselves are biodegradable, there is little impact that the product themselves have on the environment when the product is used up or needs to be recycled.

Steps towards Sustainable, Zero Waste Production

Inspiration

The refillery idea came because the founding owners already had a sustainable beauty line called Lines of Elan. They had already started to refill bottles for family and friends, so the idea to explore refilling in a store and in a larger sense came from that. "We didn’t understand why no one else was doing it so we went ahead and did just that [refilling]."

The aim is not for customers to be perfect in the way that they shop, so that they have a completely sustainable lifestyle. The goal is to make sure that everyone is aware of what we are buying, to look at the processes involved in the production of what we buy, and aim to reduce the waste related to our own consumption. The goal is not be perfect but better than how they were before.

"eco+amour is on a mission to change the way we shop for everyday essentials by providing refillable earth friendly products that work great." [1]

[1] “Beauty Refillery: Zero Waste: Eco Amour.” Ecoandamour, www.ecoandamour.com/.

Overall impact

The overall impact of the innovation is that it allows consumers to be more conscious of their consumption decisions. eco+amour aims to help people improve and shift to a more sustainable lifestyle by providing sustainable, zero waste items and refillable products. Every item that is bought through a sustainable beauty and home brand reduces a person's individual waste and individual carbon footprint. The short term effect for every individual is that it reduces their negative environmental impact today. Also, an individual customer may choose to buy a single sustainable product today but over their lifetime they will have made a significant impact by continuously making that choice not only for that one single product but for other products they decide to purchase to be sustainable.

The long term impact is that it makes other corporations who are not aware of the significant impact of excessive packaging realize that customers who have the power to choose sustainable corporations are choosing to do just that. Buying demonstrating how a sustainable business model works in practicality, and works well, demonstrates that larger companies can learn from this sustainable business model and take aspects from the model that will work well from them and apply it to their own corporation. If nothing else, they can learn from eco+amour's sustainability goal: to continue to always improve and do better.

Business benefit

There is a significant market for sustainable, biodegradable goods that have little impact on the environment considering the growth eco+amour has gained within 1.5 years since starting. They have gone from one location to having their products in the 5 partner stores. There is a market available for people who are invested in and are aware of sustainable products. At the end of the day, there is a circular loop between the desire of people to purchase such products and the production of the products. As more and more people want to be more sustainable in their life choices, it provides businesses more opportunities to fulfill those customer needs. Because of this being an emerging market, business efficiencies that can be found in older markets or non-sustainable retail stores are not there yet, but there is a lot of potential for these efficiencies to be found in the future. The strategy of lower waste is challenging for the corporation as it requires heightened awareness on all levels of the organization and regarding all the products they are creating. Right now, there are efficiencies in the packaging aspect of the goods as there are lower packaging costs. But, there is hope that in the future, there will be larger efficiencies in many different areas of any sustainable business to come due to the long term growth potential in the industry.

eco+amour also wants customers to realize that a sustainable brand is not always more expensive and to consider evaluating the purchasing price of any product differently. Of course there is inherent value of having a sustainable product, but there are other price considerations as well. Even though a sustainable product may seem more expensive at first glance, considering how much of a sustainable product is required to produce the same quality of non-sustainable product leads both products to be within a similar price range.

For example: a jug of leading laundry detergent that has more volume would be priced at $20, however a concentrated amount of their product that has less volume will still cost $20. However, instead of using the regular metrics of looking at cost per volume, we should consider another metric such as cost per load, meaning due to the efficiencies of the two products, the cost to complete the associated tasks, laundry in this case, is actually equal between the two products. One of the things that sustainable products provide is that these options provide more concentrated products with less water weight.

There is a large opportunity for people who are interested in the sustainable business market. Customers are becoming more and more aware of their footprint and as a result, business owners have more opportunities to improve their practices.

Social and environmental benefit

When looking at the refillery, the biggest consideration they put in is where eco+amour sources their material from. The company considers buying ingredients after they have looked at the environmental impact that the ingredients have based on the ingredients in the supply chain. Not only that, but they also consider whether or not using a specific natural ingredient is sustainable in the first place. For example, if too much of an ingredient is required to make an extract or an oil, they do not use that ingredient. All products that are sold in-store are evaluated to see if they are biodegradable and have low-packaging if they are prepackaged goods.

The second part is that as the refillery products are made in-house, they have a very small carbon footprint related to their production side. eco+amour have a natural formulator and a chemist in-house creating their products, which decreases their carbon footprint and allows them to more thoroughly evaluate ingredients. As the company is growing, there are more store locations, products are created in-house and then shipped to the other locations. To decrease waste related to packaging, products are shipped out in containers that they have returned to the main location. They are cleaned and sanitized, and ready to reuse .

Finally, the model of sales that includes prepackaged goods and having refill items, leaves little waste on the side of the consumer. Every aspect of the product's life is carefully considered to ensure that the least amount of waste is created.

Interview

Sarah Marcus, Founder

Photo of interviewee

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eco+amour

eco+amour

Scarborough, Ontario, CA

Business Website: https://www.ecoandamour.com/

Year Founded: 2018

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Eco+amour is a zero waste beauty refillery brand that allows consumers to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle by providing biodegradable, sustainable products and opportunities to refill products through bringing their own containers from home. It is both an online and in-store where they promote their own brand and are a platform for other sustainable beauty brands.