Compassion vs. Corporation—How Repurpose is Fueling Global Change

Compassion vs. Corporation—How Repurpose is Fueling Global Change

Sustainability is on the minds of consumers and corporations, and it’s likely to be more than a buzzword and become a byword of commerce from here on out. 

What is goodwill?

How valuable is it?

And how does it relate to sustainability?

One Los Angeles company is demonstrating that goodwill is a tangible commodity, a clean-burning fuel for global change, a movement unto itself.

In an article entitled “GOODWILL PROMOTION,” L. Ron Hubbard spoke of how goodwill is built by public relations:

“There is a different brand of promotion called ‘goodwill.’

“What is goodwill? 

“When a business is sold, goodwill has value. One might say, ‘$100,000 for assets and $100,000 for its goodwill.’ That means its customers, its repute and knowingness. 

“That is goodwill. It is a commodity.”

“It is a whole subject in itself. 

“Goodwill is something you build by PR.” 

“By getting information, regardless of whether it’s gotten by survey or otherwise (although it is usually only reliable when gotten by survey), or by taking a survey done from something else, you can open the door to goodwill.” 

“Goodwill equates to life.”

A look at global trends indicates an intersection of goodwill, sustainability and viability.

Sustainable is more than just a buzzword.

While it may be a key phrase in the lexicon of gentrification or used superficially by corporations that want to sound more human, sustainability is, like goodwill itself, a real commodity, and its value is increasing exponentially.

A Global Crisis

Entire companies are built on the idea of sustainability. Elon Musk’s Tesla is an omnipresent example. SolarCity, which Musk also started, has clean energy at its core. SpaceX was built on the idea of sustaining the human race should global efforts eventually fail, or an extinction event take place.1

The trend to curtail abuse of the environment so that future generations have a planet to live on is not likely to slow down, and it gains momentum with each generation. The demographic known as Generation Z (those born mid-1990s to mid-2000s) is remarkably dedicated to the cause. A 2016 global survey of nearly 5,000 in this age group found that 46 percent said they spend more money on a product or service if it is environmentally sustainable, while almost two in three (59 percent) are interested in studying or working in sustainability-related fields.2

Sustainability is big business. Solar power, for example, saw $160.8 billion in investment in 2017, up 18 percent from the year before, driven largely by the market in China.3

One of the primary arenas in the sustainability battle is that of disposable plastic packaging—bags, straws, bottles, tableware, etc.

Plastic can take anywhere from 450 to 1,000 years to decompose. There is about 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste on the planet, with only 9 percent being recycled. At this rate, it is predicted that by 2050 that number will reach 12 billion, much of which ends up in landfills and in our oceans, generating phenomena such as the North Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating mass of plastic twice the size of Texas.4

San Francisco and several other California cities have decided to ban plastic straws; while Starbucks announced it would remove plastic straws globally from all their stores by 2020, reducing its annual straw output by one billion.5

The fact remains, however, that people like straws, and they like disposable plates, bowls, cutlery and cups for picnics and holidays, while disposable tableware is a staple of the restaurant industry. The EPA reports that Americans throw away over 25 billion cups per year, creating 363 million pounds of waste—and that’s just cups.

Goodwill + Viability 

Enter Repurpose Compostables, a company whose very existence is rooted in sustainability in that they produce fully compostable, superior-quality tableware. Repurpose is not only a godsend for the sustainably minded, but they’re converting legions of shoppers, expanding and flourishing in the process.

The Los Angeles company of ten employees, founded in 2011, ranked #713 on the Inc. 5000 list for 2018 with $3.8 million in revenue and almost 700 percent three-year growth.6

Repurpose is a breed of company that we are seeing more and more of, one founded with goodwill as its central tenet. They do not simply chant the mantra of sustainability; they live and breathe it.

The company was founded by Lauren Gropper and Corey Scholibo. Their joint skillset includes Lauren’s background in sustainable architecture and urban design and Corey’s experience in journalism and branding strategies for SKYY Vodka, Tiffany & Co. and others. With Lauren as CEO and Corey as CMO, their company is aptly named, built upon the co-founders’ sense of purpose.7, 8

“Repurpose’s core mission is to use our business as a tool for environmental change,” says Lauren. “We are on a mission to provide a solution to the problems of disposable plastic and Styrofoam use by offering plant-based, non-toxic, compostable alternatives.” The strategy encompasses millions of people changing their purchasing habits, thereby reducing the amount of plastic waste in our environment.

The idea sparked when Lauren’s clients in the film and television industry, for whom she’d been hired to “green” their productions, had a genuine problem of being unable to find a quality replacement for single-use plastics and cheap paper products.

Their mission doesn’t mean just a cleaner environment, but healthier people in general. There are negative health issues associated with Styrofoam and plastics. Styrene and BPA (bisphenol-A) are known carcinogenic chemical compounds found to leach through disposable Styrofoam and plastic containers.

Environmental crisis, health issues, quality, usability, cost—all these came into play as they developed their product line.

Solutions = Commodities 

After deciding to tackle these obstacles, the team at Repurpose developed a line of sustainable tableware. Their products are 100 percent compostable, by industrial standards, within 180 days. Cups, bowls, plates, forks, spoons and knives are made from corn, sugar and bamboo—all annually renewable resources, meaning they can be replenished within one year.9

The cups won’t melt like plastic and require no extra sleeve. Even the cup lids are compostable, and the company recently brought eco-friendly flexible straws to market. Repurpose products have no strange plastic taste, no BPA potentially seeping into your bloodstream, and they’re not made from petroleum—a vital fact, since 8 percent of the world’s oil supply is used to make single-use plastics.

“In addition, all the cutlery we saw on the market, plastic or otherwise, was brittle; it snapped, warped or melted at hot temperatures. Our cutlery is so strong you can cut a steak or put it in hot soup and it still won’t melt!” says Corey.

After some trial and error, the company decided to focus on consumers rather than the corporate market. Lauren explains: “Brand and innovation was less relevant in the wholesale commercial market because the primary focus in that business is to offer the lowest possible price in order to compete. Uniqueness and innovation are not necessarily rewarded in that market.”

Repurpose stands in stark contrast to the notoriously cutthroat corporate world. The health of individuals and ecosystems has historically been on the casualty list of the “soulless corporation” that puts profit above all else, a fact highlighted recently by an unprecedented court ruling. Agrochemical biotech giant Monsanto was ordered to pay $289 million to a former school groundskeeper stricken with cancer, connected to the weedkiller Roundup and its active chemical, glyphosate.10 The case was the first in another 5,000 lined up against Monsanto, which was recently acquired by the Bayer pharmaceutical corporation of Germany for over $60 billion.11

It is against this backdrop that companies like Repurpose work in a David and Goliath atmosphere; so they decided to direct their efforts to those who, collectively, are more powerful than monolithic corporations—the people doing the buying.

“With our positive feedback from actual end users, we knew that we were playing on the wrong field and that our products would be best suited on retail shelves, speaking directly to consumers,” says Corey. “We made an important pivot early in our company history, with the support of our investors, and created a completely new business model that has proven to be very successful.”

Their original retail customer base was eco-conscious consumers, but they found that through education and a superior product, Repurpose is for everyone.

For some consumers, health is the priority, and Repurpose makes a point to communicate the health advantages of plant-based goods. Their products are styrene-free, BPA-free, petroleum-free, chlorine-free and use only soy-based inks.

“We feel that if we can bring people a product that performs as well or better than the traditional products they are using, put it in appealing branding and packaging, and price it competitively—then anyone can make the switch,” explains Corey. “Studies show that 80 percent of consumers will use green products if they are not inconvenienced in any way. This is most of the market. So Repurpose gives them the convenience of a disposable product, and a great price, and that makes it easy to switch.”

Global Movement

We live in an information-driven era, where transparency is an increasingly vital concern.

When a company claims “sustainability,” one can look them up and call them out if they’ve skewed the facts or slanted the research studies. Repurpose offers its ingredients, health facts and global environmental statistics on its website. It also explains all the industry standards to qualify as biodegradable or compostable.

Their very existence is based upon transparency and compassion, with prosperity integral to their mission. Their endgame is millions of people making educated decisions.

The company has hit mainstream markets through distribution deals with Safeway, The Fresh Market, Ingles, Vons, Albertsons, WinCo Foods, Whole Foods and other chains; plus anyone can order directly from their website or on Amazon. Repurpose is the fastest-growing brand in its category, sold in over 4,000 stores nationwide, the first to cross over into major grocery chains.

Their message is clear and integrated into their packaging, marketing and PR. While brand loyalty was once defined as “cradle to grave,” Repurpose’s philosophy is that of “cradle to cradle”—products that have future generations in mind.

By fully incorporating goodwill into their business model, Repurpose and other like-minded companies are sustainably paving the way for a global movement.


References

  1. Wall, Mike. “SpaceX Has a Lofty Goal: Help Save Humanity.” NBCNews.com. NBCUniversal News Group, 24 Apr. 2012.
  2. “Generation Z Wants More Action for a Sustainable Future, Reveals Global Research from Masdar.” Masdar.ae. Mubadala Development Company, n.d.
  3. Scott, Mike. “Solar Power Investment Outstripped Coal, Gas and Nuclear Combined in 2017.” Forbes.com. Forbes Media, 9 Apr. 2018.
  4. Parker, Laura. “A Whopping 91% of Plastic Isn’t Recycled.” News.nationalgeographic.com. National Geographic Partners/National Geographic Society, 19 July 2017.
  5. Hamblin, Abby. “San Francisco Bans Plastic Straws, Joining These California Cities.” Sandiegouniontribune.com, 25 July 2018.
  6. “Repurpose. Inc. 5000 #713 2018.” Inc.com. Mansueto Ventures, 15 Aug. 2017.
  7. Harrison, Kate. “Serve Your Thanksgiving Turkey on These Disposable Plates without a Side of Guilt.” Forbes.com. Forbes Media, 10 Nov. 2015.
  8. Cline, Nikola. “Repurpose Compostables—100% Plant Based and Pretty Stylish Too.” Brandettes.com, 28 June 2017.
  9. Repurpose—“Intro.” Repurposecompostables.com, n.d.
  10. “A Shock Court Verdict against Monsanto’s Roundup.” Economist.com. The Economist Newspaper, 18 Aug. 2018.
  11. Kendall, Brent, and Jacob Bunge. “U.S. to Allow Bayer’s Monsanto Takeover.” Wsj.com. Dow Jones & Company, 9 Apr. 2018.

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Issue: 19020903INT