For the past six years, the husband-and-wife duo of Lachlan and Lisa Laing has run Sustainable Man, a company focused on renewable energy products and services for the home.
Now, the two have developed a ‘green’ nappy that will, perhaps, take man closer toward the, eventually, fully biodegradable one.
Ecoriginals, the Laings’ new venture, partnered with Cardia Bioplastics Limited (ASX CODE: CNN) to come up with a product that is considered as good as the regular nappies and costs about the same. Yet, it is produced in a more environmentally friendly way and uses plant-based and compostable materials.
Dr. Frank Glatz, Ecoriginals’ Managing Director, told Anthill the eco-friendly nappies took a year and a half to develop. Contrary to perception, the nappy is a complex piece to assemble. Besides, it sets demanding standards than most other home products. Among other things, it needs to be kind on a baby’s sensitive skin, must be secure to avoid leaks and needs to be easy to fix and remove.
Matching performance and price
Ecoriginals has innovated smartly, given the challenges. Its nappy has come up with a compostable leak barrier, rather than the traditional plastic layer used in most other products. Cardia’s compostable films have been used for the nappy back sheets. In keeping with the ‘green’ vision of its founders, Ecoriginals also has made nappy bags, bin liners and the packaging environmental friendly as it bids for a share of the $500 million Australian market for nappies.
“This is a high quality and performance product made from eco and renewable materials,” said Glatz. But what was equally important in the development of the product was the ability to match “certain performance and price points,” he added.
Materials innovation is key
Two years ago, when the Laings had their third child – a daughter – they were confronted with poor quality eco-friendly nappies that were also costlier than the normal ones. That really set the stage for their renewed entrepreneurial journey toward a cost-effective eco-friendly nappy.
But, their path has ways to go.
The Ecoriginals Baby nappies are not fully biodegradable, primarily because of current limits to technology. For example, there is nothing that can replace the plastic tabs that stick and hold the nappy in place. Ecoriginals says its nappies will remain a work in progress and that it would partner with the best international companies to find new biodegradable technology in the hope that, over time, “we can increase our compostability.”