Consumer demand for plant-based products for home and family drives collaboration.
Increasing consumer demand for plant-based “sensitive” products is the driving force behind a partnership between Glatfelter’s Advanced Airlaid Materials Business Unit (AMBU) and a major consumer brand retailer of green cleaning, paper, and personal care products. And the rewards go well beyond profit, helping to continue Glatfelter’s commitment to sustainability through innovation and continuous improvement.
Patricia Sargeant, AMBU’s vice president of sales and marketing, with the support of Glatfelter’s R&D Team, has been working with the retailer and its final product manufacturer for a little over a year. The successful collaboration between sales, R&D, and product marketing enables innovative products to get to market quickly. Sargeant says, “We’ve been hands-on working to develop more plant-based products, as we are all very conscious of the components that make up the finished goods.”
The motivation for the retailer’s direct involvement with Glatfelter was a response to its customers’ request for more transparency regarding the components that make up its nonwovens product line, including diapers and baby wipes. The companies have been working closely to develop a new component that will increase the green content of the products, making them more plant-based instead of carbon-based.
Phase 1 of the two-stage project is well underway. Trials and recommendations have taken place, and the product results are expected to be commercially available this year. Phase 2 will then begin development.
One of the challenges of the project has been what also makes it so rewarding. Sargeant says, “The consumer is very sensitive about what products are made of. They have a high level of product awareness and are vocal in their opinions.” She partly attributes this to the millennial demographic, consumers who are active in social media.
For its part, the retailer prides itself on transparency with its audience, a factor that has been evident during the Glatfelter partnership. “They want to know more about our [manufacturing] processes,” says Sargeant, “and also are clear about why they need to know.”
Sargeant sees mutual benefits from the partnership that extend beyond the financial ones for the companies. “We are all interested in pushing the limits, not as a form of branding but as an engrained way of life. We weigh cost against doing the right thing.”