Ecover

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Ecover
Type Private
Industry Consumer products
Founded 1980
Headquarters Malle, Belgium
Products Ecological cleaning products[1]
Website www.ecover.com

Ecover is a Belgium-based company that manufactures ecologically sound cleaning products (made from plant-based and mineral ingredients).[2]

History[edit]

The company was founded in 1980 by Frans Bogaerts to create phosphate-free cleaning products to reduce the environmental impact of cleaning agents.[1] Following expansion to support sales through supermarkets, it ran into financial difficulties during the early 1990s.[1][3] The business was sold to Bogaerts' son and rescued by Gunter Pauli, a member of the company's Board since 1990.[citation needed] Pauli, in turn, enlisted in 1992 the financial clout of now-deceased Danish investor,[4] Jørgen Philip-Sørensen, through the private investment company Skagen.[5] The company's relaunch commenced with the construction of a "ecological factory", followed by investments into research projects for the purpose of developing appropriate plant-based and renewable raw materials for cleaning products.[citation needed]

Ecover is part of the Ecover Group,[6] a global organisation. Aquaver [7] and The Change Initiatives [8] are other companies of the Ecover Group.

In 2012 Ecover bought Method Products, a San Francisco, United States headquartered manufacturer of cleaning products, to assist its entry of the North American market. The new group had annual revenues of $200 million.[5][9]

Products[edit]

Ecover comprises the following brands:

  • Ecover: domestic detergents, cleansing agents and personal care products.
  • Held: domestic detergents and cleansing agents.
  • Techno Green: professional detergents and cleansing agents.
  • Ecover Professional: professional cleansing agents.
  • Wellments: personal care products[10]

A number of Ecover products - washing up detergent (domestic and professional), fabric conditioner, laundry detergent and multi-surface cleaner - are available from a container refill service (customers reuse the products original container) to reduce the overall environmental impact of distributing the product. Ecover refill locations have previously been limited to independent health food stores and small local cooperative schemes, with the company having stated that it will expand its reach in this regard.[11][12]

Ecological factories[edit]

Ecover built the world’s first "ecological factory" in Malle, Belgium, with a green roof extending over more than 6000 sq m (square meters). The factory opened in 1992 and was featured on television news programs[13] that allowed the company to feature the recycled and recyclable materials that make up most of the structure. In 2007, Ecover opened another factory based on the same "ecological" premise in Boulogne-sur-Mer, Northern France.[14] and also secured ownership of a factory in Steffisburg, Switzerland, through the acquisition of the private Held AG company (manufacturer and distributor of ecological washing agents) in 2003[15]

Awards[edit]

In 1993, UNEP awarded the “Global 500 Roll of Honour” to Ecover for "outstanding achievements in the protection and improvement of the environment". In 2008, TIME Magazine honored Ecover CEO, Mick Bremans, with the title Hero of the Environment together with 29 other eco-pioneers working for a green future.[16] In 2010, Ecover earned a finalist nomination from the European Business Awards for the Environment for a pioneering project in green innovation in the process category.[17]

Controversy[edit]

In 2007, the Vegan Society withdrew the Vegan Trademark registration from Ecover products due to the company's use of daphnia (water fleas) to test the effects of its products on aquatic life, plus rabbit blood to test stain removal. Daphnia are not vertebrates and therefore are not classified as "animals" according to EU animal-testing rules. However, the Vegan Society's definition incorporates the entire animal kingdom, which is inclusive of invertebrates, as part of its Vegan Trademark registration criteria.[18] Ecover continues to use the Daphtox acute toxicity test that observes daphnia behaviour to calculate the EC50 values of their products, so it can assess the environmental quality of its products.[1][19]

Ecover had previously been criticized for not subscribing to the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection's "Humane Household Products Standard", which requires a "fixed cut-off date" on animal-tested ingredients. Ecover stated that "a fixed cut-off date [means] that we wouldn’t be able to improve our products on what we have today. We do not believe that it is necessary to carry the "Humane Household Products Standard" to uphold our core values of transparency, honesty and integrity."[20] However, in October 2012 Ecover was awarded the BUAV's leaping bunny logo. Ecover CEO, Philip Malmberg said “Being accepted into this program is an absolute privilege for Ecover and a great way to show the world that we care. Ecover has been animal friendly since the day it was founded in 1979. The decision to align with Leaping Bunny and provide our customers with household cleaning and laundry products that are certified as safe and cruelty-free was an obvious next step.”[21]

In 2010, Which? reported that Ecover was amongst a number of companies that made green claims not supported by convincing evidence.[22][23] Ecover responded several days later.[24]

In 2014, Ecover confirmed that it was trialling oil derived from algae.[25] In response, 23 environmental, consumer and farmers groups called on Ecover to drop the algae.[26] Some of the groups launched a petition and web site, declaring that "Synthetic is not Natural," in reference to Ecover's marketing, which relies heavily on words like "natural" and "eco-friendly." The petition collected thousands of signatures calling on Ecover to stop using synthetic algae, citing a lack of regulation and knowledge about synthetic organisms, and effects on farmers.[27] Ecover claimed that the algal oil it is using employs the natural mutation process of algae and standard industrial fermentation[28] and would be less destructive than the palm kernel oil it currently uses,[29] a claim disputed by some of the opposing groups because the algae was fed sugarcane which is associated with biodiversity destruction.[30]

Sponsorship[edit]

Ecover sponsored yachtsman Mike Golding.[31] Golding skippered the Ecover Sailing Team in the 2009 iShares cup, a selection of races all over Europe, sailing catamarans in competitive races against world-leaders in the sport. The races took place in Venice, Hyères, Cowes, Kiel, Amsterdam and Almeria.[32]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Neil Jaques (12 October 2009). "The big interview: Mick Bremans, Ecover - Cleaner cleaning". Ethical Corporation. Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "Meet the world's most well-known brand of sustainable household products". Naturens dag. 26 October 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. 
  3. ^ Hilary Osborne (17 November 2006). "Spick'n'span ethics". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  4. ^ "Rich List 2010 6 (10) Jorgen Philip-Sorensen £620m (£630m)". Birmingham Post. 3 February 2010. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Philip Blenkinsop (11 June 2013). "Eco-Friendly Soaps Method vs. Ecover: Which Brand Is Greener?". =Reuters (Huffington Post). Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  6. ^ Ecover Group
  7. ^ Aquaver
  8. ^ The Change Initiative
  9. ^ Jennifer Thompson (4 September 2012). "Ecover cleans up with US acquisition". Financial Times. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Ecover United Kingdom - The Ecover Group UK
  11. ^ Ecover United Kingdom - Refill
  12. ^ Ecover United Kingdom - Reiniging
  13. ^ "Home". Ecover. 2013-07-23. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  14. ^ "Bienvenue sur Ecover! - Ecover". Ecover.fr. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  15. ^ "Zusammenschluss von Held und Ecover" (in German). Held AG. 2003-04-17. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  16. ^ "Heroes Of The Environment 2008". Time. 24 September 2008. 
  17. ^ "European Commission - Environment - European Business Awards for the Environment". Ec.europa.eu. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  18. ^ "Ecover loses green backing over 'animal tests' on a 0.2mm flea". Evening Standard. 11 August 2007. Retrieved 28 September 2011. 
  19. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions - Aquatic Toxicity". Ecover. Archived from the original on 2012-04-24. Retrieved 28 September 2011. 
  20. ^ Simon Birch (Sep–Oct 2008). "Ecover". Ethical Consumer. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  21. ^ "Ecover is awarded the Leaping Bunny logo". BUAV. 30 October 2012. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  22. ^ "The greenwashing files - Green cleaning products". Which. 28 April 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  23. ^ "Tesco, Sainsbury's and Ecover products 'lack evidence' for green claims: Which?". The Guardian (London). 29 April 2010. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  24. ^ "Ecover hits back at greenwash allegations". London. 4 May 2010. Retrieved 20 Oct 2013. 
  25. ^ Stephanie Strom (30 May 2014). "Companies Quietly Apply Biofuel Tools to Household Products". New York Times. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  26. ^ "Open Letter to Ecover / Method re: decision to use ingredients derived from Synthetically Modified Organisms". Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  27. ^ "Synthetic is Not Natural: Keep extreme genetic engineering out of "natural" products". Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  28. ^ "The genetic modification process used by the supplier of our algal oil employs the natural mutation process of algae and standard industrial fermentation". Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  29. ^ "Algal Oil - the alternative to Palm Oil". Ecover. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  30. ^ "Synthetic Algae Doesn’t Solve Palm Oil Problems". Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  31. ^ "Golding to retire from Velux 5 Oceans race". Sail-World. 4 December 2006. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  32. ^ "Ecover Extreme 40 Sailing Team". Ecover Sailing Team. July 30, 2009. 

External links[edit]