By Rebecca Heilweil
Cleaning products like to advertise that their recipes are specialized chemical concoctions that tackle the most troublesome of stains and spots. But often, the primary ingredient in these solutions is just plain water.
Instead of paying for the extra gas to transport that water ー and excessive, single-use packaging ー one new system, called Cleanyst, allows users to mix cleaning products at home with H2O straight from the tap.
"We're going to be a direct-to-consumer product company that is going to send consumers pouches of concentrates in which they're going to be able to simply load into our appliances," Matt Gunia, the co-founder of Cleanyst, told Cheddar.
Cleanyst's initial concentrates for home cleaning products will produce dish soap, laundry detergent, fabric softener, and three spray cleaners. The personal care concentrates will make hand soap, conditioner, shampoo, and body wash. Gunia says future products will include bubble baths, facial cleaners, and lotions, as well as product lines catered to infants and pets.
"Why are we paying for water when we have access to this at home? And why are we paying for disposable packaging that's used once and thrown away," said Gunia. He reports that the Cleanyst system reduces, on average, about 75 percent of the water used in home and body cleaning products, and about 80 percent of the single-use plastics incorporated into packaging them.
The model could be promising. In less than a day, Cleanyst exceeded its $20,000 fundraising goal on Kickstarter.
Plastic waste remains a major cause of pollution as eight million tons of it is estimated to end up in the ocean each year. The United Nations reports that half of the plastics used worldwide are only meant to be used once.
"When designing Cleanyst, we wanted to make sure that the sustainability aspect of the project was going to be front and center. But because we're reducing so much of the excess packaging ー and we're eliminating the transportation of water ー we're able to pass on a lot of savings to consumers," he said. He estimates that with Cleanyst, consumers could save 20 to 30 percent annually, compared to comparable, plant-based cleaning products.
While the system might remind consumers of Keurig's coffee pod model, Gunia says the product is more comparable to the home carbonation platform created by Sodastream, since the system is also focused on sustainability.
Big name consumer goods manufacturers are increasingly interested in marketing their products as sustainable. 81 percent of respondents to a global Nielsen survey in 2018 said they "feel strongly" that companies should help protect the environment.
That expectation could make the Cleanyst model enticing to multinational manufacturers, which is why, Gunia says, his company spent four years applying for patents and securing its intellectual property.
He does hope that, eventually, the platform will service concentrates produced by other brands. "Multinationals are going to look at this as an opportunity to deliver their products in alternate ways," he said. "Future partnerships are going to be ripe for Cleanyst going forward."
Meanwhile, with the money it has raised so far, the startup plans to finish production on the system and concentrate pouches, and to have Cleanyst delivered to early adopters by December.