It is not often that a FMCG firm launches a product with the intention to bring cost down. But this is the premise on which the founders are building the sustainability-focused consumer brand The Better Home -- to enable people across sections of society to live an eco-friendly life.
One of the biggest concerns of buying sustainable products is their heavy price tag, they are at least 30-40 per cent more expensive than their conventional counterparts. The argument usually is smaller market size for sustainable products leads to increased costs. But, in a value driven market like India, low cost will lead to wider adoption among consumers. It is almost a chicken-and-egg situation.
The direct-to-consumer brand The Better Home had launched a range of its home cleaning products that contain good microbes and enzymes for a natural cleaning action. The range has four products currently -- floor cleaner, toilet cleaner, dish washing liquid and laundry detergent.
Dhimant Parekh, Founder & CEO, The Better Home says they are six months to a year away in achieving the benefits of economies of scale and bringing down the price point of their natural home cleaning products.
Since its launch in February, the firm has sold 58,000 units of cleaners to over 360 cities. The company claims that the sales are doubling every month. But the sustainability-focused firm counts its success in not just on the products sold but also on environmental impact metrics.
When its bio enzymes-based cleaners flow into the drainage sstem, it doesn't change the vital and delicate ecological balance. In contrast, conventional cleaners are derived out of chemicals and increase water pollution as they enter the water bodies.
It says these 58,000 units have helped consumers save more than 45 million litres of contaminated water from entering the ocean over the last 6 months.
While its products are eco-friendly and natural, they still come in plastic packaging. To save all these plastic bottles and refill pouches from entering the landfills, the firm has started a 'take back program' that enables consumers to send empty pouches back to the company for recycling. Through the programme the company aims to recycle 100% of its packaging materials.
Every delivery includes self-addressed envelopes so consumers can send back the refill pouches after use to be sent to the licensed waste management company.
"We are committed to responsible production across the value chain from ingredients and packaging to end of life solutions. Our products help users be more resource-efficient by reducing impact on our water bodies and make responsible consumption an easy choice," says Anuradha Parekh, Co-founder, The Better Home.
While firms in India have extended producer responsibility (EPR) policies, initiatives have been few and far and don't match up to the plastic pollution they cause.
The reason, Parekh says, is that most FMCG firms are not in direct touch with the consumer. They sell through distributors and eventually the kirana store or the supermarket which leads to communication gap and becomes an operational challenge on a large scale. "The missing link for a successful extended producer responsibility programme is direct access to consumer which is where a direct-to-consumer brand comes in," he says.
According to the Pollution Control Board of India 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated by India every day - close to the weight of 9,000 Asian elephants. Of this over 10,000 tonnes is uncollected plastic that eventually ends up in the natural environment -- in our seas and oceans or piling up on our lands. According to the MacArthur's Eponymous Foundation, by 2050, the amount of plastic in seas and oceans across the world will weigh more than fish.