‘We don’t ship water’: Eco startup Soap2o on a mission to expand powdered hand soap uptake
Launched this month, Soap2o’s line of powdered hand soap was packaged in dissolvable and biodegradable PVA sachets that made up 800ml-1,000ml of product once mixed with water. The vegan-certified ‘Elegantly Eco’ range came in two fragrances, pomegranate and pink grapefruit, and required 45-seconds of mixing with water directly in the dispenser. Soap2o also offered a range of glass dispensers that could be branded according to business needs.
The company was targeting large-scale businesses with high footfall like hotels, stadiums, schools, airports, gyms and offices because this is where it said significant sustainable change could be made, particularly in reducing plastic use, shipping costs and emissions, according to Jordan Hurley, managing director of Soap2o.
“The main thing for us is we don’t ship water,” Hurley told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
“What I love about this business is not only do we not have any single-use plastic, we are reducing that which is obviously very key as it’s a massive part of the problem that we have, but I love the additional things we’re doing on the whole carbon footprint,” he said.
‘Our focus is on the commercial industry’
Hurley said Soap2o had chosen to focus on the commercial hand soap industry versus retail because it was a huge sector where change was needed, and arguably simple to implement.
Currently, commercial hand soap was delivered and used in two ways: via a pouch system where 1-litre bags were emptied into dispensers or a refill system where larger 5-litre bottles were used to refill dispensers. In both instances, however, he said there was unnecessary plastic used and water shipped.
Soap2o instead could deliver 57,600 sachets (each making up around 1-litre of product) on a standard 5-litre standard pallet, drastically reducing the number of deliveries needed, plastic used and ultimately carbon footprint, Hurley said.
“We can save a lot of companies a lot of money. It’s not a massively expensive product to manufacture in the volume we are manufacturing, so we can pass those savings on. Normally, when you speak to a company about sustainability and carbon footprint, they naturally think if they have to change a product, it’s going to cost more money. What we’re doing is saving then planet and saving money.”
The company was already working with several commercial businesses across the UK, he said, and in discussions with a large-scale US business as it worked to expand.
“For me, it’s about high footfall locations. For example, we could save a ridiculous amount of money for the NHS if our hand soap was in the hospitals,” Hurley said. Similarly, if Soap2o rolled out across Wetherspoons pubs in the UK, there could be significant change made, he said.
Beyond business – this isn’t just about selling product
However, whilst expansion was a key goal for Soap2o – largely via distributors but also some direct work with commercial businesses – Hurley said the wider ambition of the company was to inspire and create sustainable change at business and consumer level.
“One thing I want to make really clear is this isn’t a business that we’re in to produce a product and just sell it (…) So, we’re making a video for schools – any schools who end up having our soap we’re making an educational video to play to the class about why it’s important we’ve moved over to Soap2o and a general video about the impact on the planet. And as of September, we are going to employ someone to do demonstrations. It’s fun for the kids as well.”
At a corporate level, Soap2o wanted to work closely with its clients to build the educational side of the eco-soap concept and develop a brand in industry known for its sustainable credentials and value, he said. “We’ve got to drive the business and get [the product] into locations we want them to be in. Then we need to tell people to be aware of our brand because if we tell people now, they’ll go looking for it and it’s nowhere to be seen. That’s why our business, instead of a sales business, needs to be known as an educational business (…) We’re here not just to educate the people buying it but also using it.”
As business progressed, Hurley said Soap2o would continue work on formulations and fragrances but also planned to launch a body wash, shampoo and conditioner variant as it set out to drive important uptake across the leisure and tourism industries.
Asked about competition in the powdered soap space, he said: “I’m very open for competition; I don’t want a monopoly in this area. I know we don’t have any competition at the moment but it would be great to be in the middle of a market where the only option is a solution like what we have – we’ll be living in a better world.”