We talk a lot about the amount of plastic waste produced and consumed within the food industry, but less about the waste generated by household and personal care products.
Every time we purchase a bottle of bleach, washing up liquid, detergent, window spray, we’re inevitably purchasing a plastic bottle. The item may be used for days, weeks or months, but at the end of its lifespan it’s going to be at best thrown in a recycling bin, which may or may not end up being turned into something useful, and at worst added to the mounting pile of waste in landfill sites or the seas.
And as we all truly know, the only way to truly recycle is to use the same product again for a different purpose.
This has been the mission driving three family members from Miami, the Gunia brothers. Nick, Matthew and Mark, who grew up with a father who ran a business supplying plastic-based household and personal care products, know a lot about the benefits and failings of the plastic industry. After each having kids, the brothers decided they would no longer be able to live with the amount of plastic waste such an industry generates: an estimated four million tonnes every single year.
On the Cleanyst website, the brothers explain that they became interested in filling re-useable bottles with concentrates, but frustrated by the limited applications of such systems. “We set out to build a system that could blend virtually all concentrate types and fully unlock the power of mixing in reusable bottles.”
The result is Cleanyst, a machine that turns sachets of plant-based ingredients into handwash, shampoos and shower gels. Users simply fill the coffee-machine-like appliance up with water, drop in their desired sachet to the top of the machine, plug in a re-usable plastic bottle and select whatever mode they’re looking for. Over the course of between one and three minutes the machine then blends the various ingredients and generates homemade soaps and detergents. For added personalisation, essential oils can be added to the specific blends.
The product had a successful run on Kickstarter, receiving more than 230% of its funding, with people supporting plans to back a product that helped them both reduce plastic waste and save money. It is expected that the product will be sent out and available for general purchase later this year.
Cleanyst comes at an optimum time for plastic-conscious consumers: zero-waste detergent shops are appearing with increasing frequency across Europe, offering users the ability to avoid buying new plastic items and to purchase a variety of products directly into their own containers. Major UK supermarket chain Waitrose recently trialled the same system with 46 products, including cereal, pasta and detergent.
The Gunia Brothers