Dropps Sells Sustainable Detergent Pods Without All The Plastic
by Rudy Sanchez on 07/18/2019 | 3 Minute Read
In the 80s, Lenore Propper Schwartz started an apparel firm called Conshohocken Cotton Co., making clothing using a patented, cotton yarn.
But they soon noticed a problem—all commercial detergents on the market were too harsh for the clothes they made.
Lenore, along with her son Jonathan Propper, set out to develop a biodegradable detergent that kept clothes looking better for longer. They called the product Cot’n Wash, and it became Consumer Reports first choice in overall cleaning quality.
Sometime later, Jonathan had an epiphany. There’s already water in the washing machine, and they’re shipping soap mixed with plenty of water to their customers all over the country. What if there was a way to remove the water? In 2008, Dropps debuted, and the laundry detergent market hasn’t been the same ever since.
“While hard to pull off, sustainability, convenience and cost are not mutually exclusive,” says Sydney Waldron, Director of Marketing at Dropps.
“Dropps is driven by a core belief,” she adds, "our customers can have it all. Safe, effective, and eco-responsible products that are both convenient and economical. Not one thing at the expense of another. It's our goal to design products that allow us to offer better alternatives, from a formulation and packaging standpoint.”
Dropps didn’t always come in sustainable packaging. Initially, the detergent packs got bundled in plastic stand-up pouches, which are difficult to recycle. And while Dropps found partners to upcycle the pouches, the process was a hassle for consumers, so adoption was low. This lead to creating a new, sustainable package that doubles as a shipping box, making the packaging both easier to recycle and compostable.
Having a sustainable box is fine and all, but there are other components to the packaging, including tape and shipping labels. Dropps uses kraft packing tape that uses a recycling-compatible adhesive as well as recyclable labels.
The detergent company sells direct-to-consumer, which they leverage to spot customer preferences and adjust their packaging accordingly. It's this kind of close, careful attention that led to Dropps creating a half-dose pod for smaller loads and handwashing.
“The direct to consumer model has allowed us to identify consumer behavior quickly, and we created a bundle box that offers the flexibility to package two different products in a single package/shipping container,” Sydney says. “We saw customers buying multiple products, so we wanted to ship those in a single package without doubling or tripling up the boxes, and without other excessive packaging material like liners and dividers, or additional taping and increased operational complexity.”
The drive for continuous improvement and constant innovation is evident in the progressive changes that have led them to create a detergent pod that eschews unnecessary colorings, additives or water, all wrapped up in a sustainable package.
“As a small company, we innovate to the best of our ability and source as ethically as possible with what’s available in the market,” Sydney says. “Despite making these innumerable changes to the product and business model, there are still a million things we can do as a company to push the sustainability agenda.”
“Sustainability is a journey, not an end state,” she adds.