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Seventh Generation's new laundry detergent comes in a recyclable cardboard bottle

March 16, 2011 |  9:37 am

Among the thousands of products -- food, personal care, even fireplace logs -- at the Natural Products Expo was a liquid laundry detergent bottle that caught my eye. It’s made of cardboard.

Seventh Generation showed off new packaging that will be in stores any time now. The bottle is made of recycled corrugated cardboard and newspaper, said Peter Swaine, the company’s director of packaging development.

Inside that shell is a plastic bag filled with detergent. When that’s gone, the bottle breaks apart and can be recycled or composted in municipal programs. The bag and the neck are made of No. 4 plastic that can be rinsed out and recycled in the plastic bag bins found at grocery stores.

And the bottle cap, which is also the measuring cup, can be recycled in bins set out in stores such as Whole Foods by Preserve, a company that makes toothbrushes, Swaine said. He said tops that get dropped into municipal recycling containers often don’t actually get recycled because they are too small and can fall out of the sorting equipment used to capture recyclable materials.

Seventh Generation worked with Oakland-based Ecologic Brands, taking off from milk containers used in Canada, Swaine said. There, milk is sold in plastic bags that fit into a rigid frame that’s used over and over.

For now the bottles are to be sold in a 66-load size, or 50 ounces of concentrated detergent. It will cost $12.99 to $14.99.

“We think the design works very well, but we have to get it on the shelf and get the consumer feedback,” Swaine said Tuesday. “We have to see if it’s as highly accepted as we think it will be.”

The bottles were on display at the expo last week in Anaheim. Seventh Generation said it also took three tons of cardboard waste generated at the trade show to use in the bottles.

-- Mary MacVean

Photo: Recyclable detergent bottles. Credit: Seventh Generation


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