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Why now is the right time to ‘Change’ plastic usage

An Australian startup wants to disrupt the cleaning-products sector by changing the way consumers buy cleaning products.

Inside FMCG interviewed Simon Karlik, founder of Change, whose mission is to get rid of single-use plastic bottles.

He says the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic has brought back into focus the massive problem of plastic pollution and while several companies are continuing to battle this issue worldwide, Australians are lagging.

What do Australian businesses need to do to further push the movement in creating a more sustainable future, we asked?

“I founded the Cheeki brand of stainless steel bottles to counter the proliferation of single-use plastic beverage containers. One of the most common questions we receive with Cheeki is “how best to clean your bottle”? So we developed a cleaning tablet but then we thought why stop at just a water bottle cleaner? Just one look down the cleaning aisle you can see it is flooded with single-use plastic spray bottles. We thought we could make a bigger and better change [to] give customers a high performance cleaning product without the plastic,” Karlik said.

Cheeki began with a small investment and few products for the market. The company reinvested in NPD to manufacture more sustainable goods to further expand their marketing prowess in the sector. Consumers have been using plastics all over, and this is where his company comes into play by looking for different ways to reduce plastic usage. Cheeki is advocating how easy it is to make the switch to using less plastics and more environmentally friendly products.

“So, we take a simple idea that reduces plastic in our lives, e.g. a cleaning tablet. We have a look at the market and analyse the position, sales channels, etc. Then we move into the fun part of NPD and numerous rounds of consumer trials. The final step is taking all the good about the product, packaging it and sharing the story of benefits of reducing plastic use. We like to stay positive, we’re not about the doom and gloom!” Karlik shared with Inside FMCG.

He said that the virus has affected his business for the last few months, causing disruptions with trade show cancellations around the world and impacted demand”. But the company is constantly adapting and is currently seeing a strong recovery. But what does he expect in the new-normal, post-pandemic era?

“Business will adapt to meet new requirements and expectations, i.e. less face-to-face contact, less trade shows and more online focused. We’ve seen a bigger increase in online shopping and to help out our brick-and-mortar stores we’ve increased our digital material and spend to help their sales. With that in mind we’re also looking at ways to reduce our plastic use for our online orders too,” added Karlik.

There will always be a constant battle between cost cutting and saving the environment by switching to sustainable goods. How does Change entice consumers to switch now, given that most earth-friendly products are usually expensive?

Change is all about making the easy swap and we are promoting the convenience and easy-use of the product (Fill, Drop, Dissolve and Clean) that doesn’t cost the earth. What we’ve done is create a product that is similar in price and cleaning efficacy as leading grocery products, gotten rid of the water and single-use plastic, wrapped it up in a neat, easy-to-store package and created a stylish spray bottle that can be used over and over. So, we supply the cleaner and you supply the water. Easy,” Karlik said.

Cheeki is sold in 14 different countries apart from Australia. Recently, Craig Zeelie was appointed as International BDM to oversee the distribution of Change and Cheeki, as it targets initially North America.

“We are receiving a positive response from major US grocery chains,” said Karlik.

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