A startup with the lofty goal of 'eliminating single-use plastics in every Aussie kitchen, bathroom and laundry' has raised $60,000 in crowdfunding on day one

  • Aussie startup Zero Co wants to elimate single-use plastics in the packaging of household items.
  • Founder Mike Smith wants to raise $250,000 through Kickstarter to fund the first production run of a series of recycled plastic dispensers and a “closed loop” system of refills.
  • In the first day of the crowdfunding campaign, Zero Co raised $60,000.

An Australian startup, which wants to eliminate single-use plastics in laundry, bathroom and kitchen products, has already raised $60,000 on its first day of crowdfunding.

Zero Co and its founder Mike Smith are looking to disrupt the traditional supply chain for household cleaning items by creating what they call a “closed loop system” – meaning all plastic used in the packaging is recycled or reused. It’s the latest in a series of startups trying to crack the problem of single-use plastics in consumer products.

Here’s the pitch: In the ‘starter pack’ offered by Zero Co, you get a series of colourful liquid dispensers which are made from recycled ocean plastics, as well as a matching set of refill pouches made from recycled landfill plastic. Included are your standard household products – multipurpose cleaning liquid, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, hand wash, and so on.

When you’re finished with your refill pouch, you send it back to Zero Co, which cleans and refills it, then sends it on to the next customer.

Though the brand is launching with ten core products, Smith says he wants to launch a range including “every single product which lives in your bathroom, in your laundry, and under the kitchen sink” – including everything from shampoo and conditioner to window cleaner.

After receiving $600,000 in pre-seed funding, the company launched its Kickstarter on Wednesday in order to secure $250,000 to fund its first production run.

Within 45 minutes, the company had raised over $25,000.

Speaking to Business Insider Australia, Smith credited a mailing list the company had built up over the past month with providing strong initial interest for the crowdfunding campaign.

“We went live with a teaser campaign about a month ago with a really simple landing page, and started communicating our vision for the project,” Smith said.

“Just over 13,000 people signed up for our mailing list in that last month – so far that’s where all the traffic is coming from.”

Smith says the idea for the business came while he and his wife travelled around the world, seeing plastic waste in even the most remote of locales – like in the Himalayas.

“We went to some incredible and unusual parts of the world, and we were both just blown away by the amount of plastic rubbish we saw everywhere we went. It really affected us, because we were seeing plastic in places where there shouldn’t be plastic,” he said.

The core of the business, according to Smith, is attacking plastic rubbish at “both ends of the supply chain”.

“At the top of the supply chain, it’s about stopping the production of new plastic. At the bottom of the supply chain, it’s about taking plastic out of the ocean.”

Smith acknowledged having a large environmental impact is difficult with an expensive, boutique product as it will struggle to get mass-market appeal due to the cost. Due to this, Smith told Business Insider he wants to keep prices low. The starter pack costs $129, which the company says is comparable to an assortment of equivalent off-the-shelf brands.

“Our mission here is to smash plastic,” he said, “so our goal is to never be more expensive than the massive brands.”

“We want this to be a mainstream, acceptable solution for an everyday audience.”

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