Cincinnati — Clorox Co. focuses on design to make its products more recyclable and to use less plastic.
At the Baerlocher Recycling Summit in Cincinnati, Benjamin Ma, associate research director for Clorox, talked about ways the company is changing its products to achieve 100 percent recyclability.
"If you don't design something properly, you will never get it to be recycled," Ma said.
Clorox is designing for sustainability and with consumers in mind. The company has 50 brands within 30 different categories. The company has $7.1 billion in annual sales and claims that nine of out 10 people have Clorox products in their household.
Clorox priorities holistic design, Ma said.
"There's not one solution that's going to stand across all the categories. There might be some things in common that helps us have some synergies at some scale," Ma said.
A strategy to reach its 100 percent recyclability goal is by exploring alternative materials for improved recycling and having How2Recycle labels on all Clorox items.
One challenge the company is facing is related to consumer behavior. Consumers tend to be creatures of habit, and they will continue to buy items they are most familiar with and not what would be most efficient or what the zero-waste option is, Ma said.
"What does it take to make this more intuitive for consumers so that they would come back and repeat this behavior over and over?" Ma asked. "Maybe it's a funnel, maybe it's a spout, maybe it's something else; we're working on it."
Another goal the company has is to hit 50 percent reduction of virgin materials by 2030. To date, it has achieved a 13 percent reduction. The biggest driver in this initiative is selling concentrates so consumers buy products in smaller containers.
The company is also working on using more reusable and refillable packaging, like their refillable Burt's Bees lip balm or cleaners that come in a big container and a smaller spray bottle to refill.
Clorox is working toward optimizing designs and using advanced tools like artificial intelligence and product simulation, Ma said.