New Zealand eco products pioneer ecostore is well known for its sustainability standards and for being purpose-led. Combined with innovative business development, the company is in a rapid growth phase as it takes its brand to a growing global audience.
|Since it began in the Northland region of New Zealand in 1993, it has cemented its reputation as a trusted manufacturer of sustainable products and this has been the foundation of recent expansion.
From their ecovillage in New Zealand, Rands and his co-founder and wife Melanie Rands’ original idea was to source products that could keep the water leaving their land as pure as the water that came in. As the company grew they started receiving messages from people who said ecostore’s products were beneficial for health conditions like eczema and asthma, so people’s health became as important to the business’ mission as environmental protection.
Ecostore was also founded as part of a pioneering social action model – the ultimate purpose through its not for profit arm Fairground Foundation is to fund projects that challenge the status quo and encourage businesses around the world to follow suit and adopt freely shared IP.
|Certified eco factory
“We have come so far in 20 years, from a humble outfit in the far north of New Zealand to being ready to take on the world,” says ecostore co-founder Malcolm Rands. “We've got the top scientists and technologists and our manufacturing plant is world leading. We are actually the most certified eco factory in the Southern Hemisphere.”
Among the factory’s certifications are Enviromark Diamond, New Zealand’s highest accreditation available for commitment to the health of the environment, and CarboNZero, which recognises carbon footprint reduction.
Authenticity and transparency continue to underpin the ecostore business model. It offers customers full ingredient lists and in depth information about each ingredient online. Rands says this is especially important in an industry where greenwashing is common, and it’s an important opportunity to inform and empower people to make conscious choices about the products they buy.
“We have quickly established a reputation that has set us apart from our competitors,” Rands says. “Our competitors vary in size, but many are multi-nationals with huge budgets. We believe our transparency, our authenticity and our ethical business methods set us apart.
“The level of trust we have established by being so open with customers is a real point of difference that’s drawn like minded companies to work with us, and helped us attract some great people to work with in the business itself.”
Ecostore has also committed to using sustainably-sourced plant and mineral-based ingredients rather than petrochemicals wherever possible and it makes sure each ingredient is safer for people’s health and for the planet. It uses the precautionary principle, which means if there is any doubt over the safety of an ingredient, it simply seeks a safer alternative.
“We will pay a premium for our raw materials just so we can guarantee that we have got the most sustainable, ethically-sourced raw material in our products,” says research and development manager Huia Iti. “ecostore’s innovation really excites me and we are looking to utilise waste streams which can be turned into functional raw materials and used in our products.”
Hong Kong is one of many markets ecostore sells in – including several others in Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand.
Ecostore was recently presented with a top national award – the New Zealand Environment Ministry’s Green Ribbon Award – for the Carbon Capture Pak. The company converted from its regular plastic bottles to these new bottles made from renewable sugarcane that capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it grows, helping people reduce their carbon footprint. The bottles are also fully recyclable in the same way as regular plastic.
Finding an alternative to the traditional bottles was a big priority for the company, Rands says. “Plastic is one of the world’s greatest problems. Finding a safer alternative has been a priority and with sugarcane-based high-density polyethylene (HDPE) available to ecostore, we’ve been able to manufacture plastic bottles made from sugarcane. It’s huge for ecostore and the world.”