Family-owned Business Champions “Green” Cleaning Products
Founded in 2010, Eco Group NZ Ltd is a family-owned company that develops, manufactures and distributes commercial-strength environmentally preferable cleaning products. Based at Papamoa in the Bay of Plenty, Eco Group supplies to both the New Zealand and overseas markets.
Eco Group Director Graeme Cox says making “green” products was the intention from the outset. “When the company was originally founded a decision was made to formulate a completely new generation of products that wouldn’t harm anyone,” he says.
“The use of cleaning chemicals has bought immense benefits to humankind, but it has also had some negative impacts on human health and safety. Chemicals in many of the older, traditional or legacy cleaners can cause a whole range of health problems, such as numbness, lung irritation and severe burns, while some chemicals and fragrances in cleaners can cause or exacerbate asthma.
“In the United States studies have even shown that up to 15% of cleaning staff may be at risk of harm from the chemicals they use.”
The company has an extensive range of indoor cleaning products along with four cleaners for outdoor use including products for cleaning cars and trucks. Eco Group adds one new product to the line-up on average each year – due out in 2020 is a truck-wash cleaner.
Eco Group also provides cleaning advice as a part of its total “offer”, along with samples, charts and after-sales assistance. Full instructions for use are provided on all product labels.
Venturing down the “green” cleaning path is not without its challenges, says Cox. “With a few exceptions, most customers or consumers are not willing to pay more for ‘green’ products. Where the green alternative is priced higher, people still tend to go for the cheaper option regardless of their feelings about sustainability and the environment; and at least 90% of the market is still controlled by entrenched suppliers.”
Cox says that was the spur for Eco Group to develop a completely new range of green cleaning products in New Zealand. “All our products have been developed, formulated and manufactured here under the guidance of qualified, respected chemist Gordon Vincent.
“They are made from either plant or mineral ingredients such as coconut trees and pumice because those ingredients are in abundance or highly sustainable. We are one of the few companies in the world that do not use potentially harmful chemicals such as glycols, EDTAs, dyes or phosphates in our formulations.”
To combat the challenges Eco Group has been able to compete through several initiatives, says Cox. “We manufacture a premium product range and provide a guarantee for all our commercial customers, we can provide special product requests and we enable certain customers to create their own ‘brand’ on our products.
“We also have strong environmental accreditation through Environmental Choice New Zealand (ECNZ) and AsureQuality. Eco Group was first licensed by ECNZ in 2013 and now has 11 products bearing the ecolabel.
Cox says Eco Group is committed to following the stringent process for obtaining the license because the ecolabel has become an integral part of their business story. With only approved raw materials being permitted, the verification process has shaped their business practices positively, he adds.
Having the ECNZ ecolabel has enabled Eco Group to compete successfully for the supply of cleaning products, says Cox. The company has worked hard to establish business relationships with several commercial cleaning companies in New Zealand, he says, and recently established a base in the United Kingdom to market to the UK and potentially Europe.
Cox says the company’s plans for 2020 include obtaining an ECNZ license for another Eco Group product, expansion of its distribution and retail network in New Zealand and managing the upgraded Eco Group website to enable online sales and marketing.
He says the company is excited about the future but would love to see more government support for environmental alternatives in the cleaning industry.
Eco Group NZ Ltd was established in 2010. It is a family-run business based in Papamoa in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty. The company is committed to supplying customers with high quality, eco-friendly cleaning products that are sourced from natural ingredients. Led by a strong code of ethics, Eco Group maintains a balance between economic success, protection of the environment and upholding it’s social responsibility. All Eco Group product development has been completed in New Zealand, assisted by a very qualified and respected chemist from Auckland