The next stimulant was Europe’s elimination of PVC. “We thought, if Europe is going to ban PVC, it’s probably only a matter of time before the U.S. will too,” Glenn says. Getting rid of PVC was also Household Essentials’ best route to Cradle-to-Cradle® Certification by MBDC - a recognition that the company viewed as essential to ensure the credibility of any new sustainable package. And a fourth driver, Glenn relates, was retailers’ increasing call for environmentally friendly packaging.
“The challenge was to come up with an innovative way to eliminate all plastic from our packaging and to economize shelf space for our retail customers while also having an attractive package that helps sell the product to consumers,” reads the company’s entry form.
Glenn adds that finding a cost-neutral solution was also critical. “You can’t approach a product like this and increase the cost by 15 percent and think you can still sell it at big box retailers,” he says. “It’s just not reality.”
The solution was simple yet effective: an ironing board cover and pad with a sewn-in pouch that becomes the primary package when the product is folded up and tucked into it. A 100%-recycled paperboard bellyband around the cloth construction carries marketing information in nontoxic ink and allows the package to be hung on a peg at point of purchase.
Household Essentials estimates that by eliminating the plastic packaging, it is taking approximately 375,000 lb of plastic out of the supply chain annually. The cotton pouch also becomes a value-added: Once the cover and pad are placed on the ironing board, the pouch hangs from the side and provides storage for spray or starch bottles.
Another significant sustainability benefit is the reduced size of the final product, which is now 35% smaller and weighs 14% less. Thus, Household Essentials has calculated, 15% fewer trucks are required for distribution of the product each year. Because finished product is manufactured in Fezhou, China, by Color Star Products Ltd., the smaller product size also reduces the number of sea containers needed to transport the product from China to the U.S.
Keeping the pouch surface clean at point of sale is aided by a unique nano coating employed by Household Essentials called NanoMax™. The coating is supplied by a Chinese manufacturer and is injected into the fibers of the product for stain- and scorch-resistance. Made from 85% water, NanoMax has 50% less chemicals than the coatings typically used for ironing board covers. Says Glenn, “From an ecological footprint, any time you can use 50% less chemicals in anything, you are doing the environment a favor.”
The Household Essentials Ironing Board Cover & Pad (with Packaging Pouch), which Greener Package Award judge Humberto Garcia of Unilever calls “ingenious, thorough, and a win-win for the environment, the manufacturer, the retailer, and the consumer,” was introduced in March of 2009 and has received Silver Level C2C certification from MBDC.