Eco-conscious Australian manufacturer Natures Organics has unveiled its latest brand, Cove.
Cove’s range of surface, bathroom and glass cleaners are designed to be kept, with aluminium bottles suitable for reuse.
“The obvious idea is to encourage Australians to re-use bottles with a trigger again and again by offering a refill. But what really brought the product to life is the innovative concentrated formulas in Cove Refills. Our team of chemists pushed the boundaries to develop a range of cleaning solutions that are four times more concentrated than standard products,” Brent Vrdoljak, brand manager of Cove, said.
Vrdoljak spoke to Inside FMCG about the journey to developing Cove.
Inside FMCG: Is it expensive to create sustainable products?
Brent Vrdoljak: Almost every aspect of Cove is more expensive to produce compared to petrochemical based products. Our aluminium bottles are made from high quality materials that are almost ten times more expensive than plastic bottles. The raw materials we use in our formulations are premium plant based ingredients, most are more expensive than using petrochemicals. However, we can still keep our costs low because we own and operate our highly efficient manufacturing facility. We’ve been working with plant based chemistry for decades so we’ve continuously ironed out any waste in resources.
Inside FMCG: How do you practice and promote sustainability when Covid-19 has sparked plastic usage again?
BV: As a business, we’ve managed to maintain our environmental practices in good stead throughout Covid-19. Nothing has changed in terms of our commitment to plant based ingredients, recycled plastic, solar powered operations or local manufacturing. In some cases, we have actually reduced our plastic footprint because due to supply chain issues, we had to substitute some complex components like triggers or pumps with more simple (lower plastic) options like caps and lids. We’ve found consumers to be really understanding, which is very encouraging.
Inside FMCG: I love the refillable concept. How do you entice consumers to buy refillable products?
BV: This has been central to our brand proposition with Cove. We didn’t want to build really great “environmental” products, we wanted to make great products full stop. Which is why Cove looks great, smells great and works really well. It’s all part of our philosophy of using design to inspire people to make better choices. We knew that if we didn’t make beautiful design front and centre, that we wouldn’t be adding value back into the product. And the only reason people throw things out is because they don’t value them. A lot of our inspiration for this came from VOSS water actually. They make beautiful bottles that you want to keep, and consequently refill!
Inside FMCG: Tell us more the thinking behind using aluminum for packaging.
BV: Aluminium is a really great material. We looked deeply into a range of materials like glass, Tetrapaks, plastics, cardboard fibres – examining everything from recycling rates to energy consumption and carbon emissions in manufacturing. Aluminium stood out as a winner because it’s recycled at a very high rate – around 70 per cent globally compared to plastics at about 12 per cent. When we spoke to consumers, we found that aluminium also had a higher perceived value compared to many other materials. This was important because we wanted to make sure the Australian public would jump on board and support this initiative.
Inside FMCG: Tell us about building the partnership with REDCycle.
BV: REDcycle [has] been a pleasure to deal with. It was quite simple to become a signatory, we highly recommend other brand owners to investigate their packaging materials and look into REDcycle. For us, we wanted to dig deeper into their supply chain so we actually went out and visited the facility that recycles a large majority of the soft plastics that go through this system. We wanted to be confident in the system and we can 100 per cent confirm that it’s a great program with high recycling rates.
Inside FMCG: How did the pandemic affect the business and your workers?
BV: It has been a challenge but our team [has] absolutely risen to the occasion. From dealing with ongoing supply chain problems, to operating with strict social distancing measures, to huge surges in demand, it has been very eventful. Fortunately, at Natures Organics, we source a lot of our materials locally and our facility is vertically integrated, we do a lot in-house.
Inside FMCG: After 30 years in business, how is Natures Organics adapting to change in the sector?
BV: Cove is really a testament to how we’ve adapted to change. It’s a new brand with a new concept that has hit the supermarket shelves and made an impact on our environmental problem. We’re all really proud of the impact we’re making and it’s certainly inspiring us to move forward. Everyone on the team is really passionate about the environment and it’s definitely part of the culture, which is what helps us bring positive change and adapt to the market too.