Grove Sets An Audacious Plastic-Free Goal: Because The Planet Deserves It
Accessed from the world wide web at 16:00 hrs 16.04.21.
A little over a year ago, the eco-friendly home essentials company Grove Collaborative made the gutsy move of declaring it would be plastic-free within five years.
Welcome materials accompanying Grove shipments boldly declare “By 2025, everything we make and sell will be 100% plastic-free.” (And each cardboard box sent to new customers bears a hand-written note of welcome penned in Sharpie by a Grove employee – a charming personal touch reflecting the company’s very human culture.)
At a time when many companies hide behind far-off environmental commitments such as being carbon neutral 25 years from now, the immediacy and visibility of Grove’s commitment is striking.
CEO Stuart Landesberg was perceptibly energized by the effort during a recent call on the status of Grove’s Beyond Plastic campaign. He was also refreshingly honest about the challenge of removing all plastic from everything the company made and sold.
Landesberg freely admitted he couldn’t be positive that the company would achieve the goal. Grove is a pioneer, the first plastic neutral retailer in the world. “If already knew how to do this, I wouldn’t have pushed this to 2025,” Landesberg told me. Clearly the need to make big progress quickly provides inspiration and pressure to keep moving on the project.
The intensity with which the Grove team is attacking on multiple fronts is impressive.
Among Grove’s efforts to date:
For each ounce of plastic Grove ships, the company now arranges for an ounce of ocean-bound plastic to be collected and recycled. Millions of pounds have been recycled in this fashion over the last year.
Interestingly, the cost of this is born by the suppliers of the products that Grove sells online via a sort of “tax” Grove passes along to them. Although this may reduce their margins on selling via Grove, Landesberg told me that no suppliers have decided to leave Grove because of the program. “A lot of our suppliers have really liked this,” and are working closely with Grove on plastics reduction, he said.
Grove produces house brand versions of many of the items it sells and is rapidly converting those items from plastic to more eco-friendly glass and aluminum packaging.
Supporting Greater Glass Recycling
Grove is partnering with Recyclops to pilot programs to make it easier for greater portions of packaging to be recycled.
Plastics Working Group
Sixty-three suppliers like Seventh Generation and Method have joined Grove in attacking the problem through collaborative information exchange and sharing of best practices.
Although Grove has grown into a substantial direct-to-consumer company in a short time ($250 million in 2020 revenue), it’s less than ten years old. Far from mammoth like Walmart or Amazon, Landesberg knows that multi-player, industry-wide participation is essential to addressing the world’s environmental woes.
“To address the climate crisis is not enough for businesses to reduce environmental impact,” he said. “It is imperative that they create positive impact. At Grove, our mission is to show that CPG products can be a positive force for human and environmental health, and with Beyond Plastic we are taking a collaborative approach with our industry to address the single-use plastic problem.”
Grove’s latest step to advance their lofty mission? A recent announcement that the brand will soon have a brick-and-mortar presence at Target stores nationwide.
Landesberg said in a recent Bloomberg article, “We’re at a really interesting place in the industry, where the mainstream consumer and the sustainability-conscious consumer are merging. Efficacy allows that to happen. And things like our partnership with Target are key steps along the way.”
Assuming consumers continue to be receptive to Grove products and mission-focused message, it may not be long until consumers demand similar sustainability efforts from other manufacturers.
And that will be a significant victory, not just for Grove’s sustainability leadership, but for the planet and those of us who call it home.