Calculating our carbon dioxide and single use plastic reductions

So, we all know the world has problems. Lots of them. To David and Roger, as well as many other people, there are two that stand out as extremely pressing. Those are: carbon dioxide emissions and single use plastic waste. Although we under no illusions that one tiny company is going to solve all the world’s problems, we wanted to make it that little bit easier for individuals to be able to stem the amount of plastic and carbon dioxide they are personally generating. That is how ScrubsUp was born. Our mission was to make informed design and business decisions that would make it convenient to switch from traditional shower products to low waste alternatives.

We started with solid shampoo. Both of us recognized that this seemed like a ‘no brainer’ switch for people to make. It is more convenient, better for your hair, more travel friendly, and more environmentally conscious than conventional liquid shower products. Nevertheless, we recognized that there were challenges that people making the shift had to deal with, namely: draining, drying, and transporting your wet shampoo bars. With no products on the market offering a sensible solution for these three adoption blockers, we invented the ScrubsUp Case- a robust and well designed carry case for your bars (be it shampoo, conditioner, everything, or soap) to solve all three adoption issues in one go!

With the solution in mind we set about designing and building ScrubsUp and eventually launched a Kickstarter. One question that we have had our mind is ‘how much pollution are we actually limiting by bringing people into the ScrubsUp Club?’ To answer this, we did the following calculations:

Carbon dioxide and plastic reductions due to Kickstarter sales:

As part of our Kickstarter we sold: 4102 ScrubsUp Bars and 4078 ScrubsUp Cases.

Our experiments have yielded that 1 ScrubsUp Bar is equivalent to about 2 standard shower product bottles (400ml). So the bars could save up to 8204 bottles from being bought.

With an average mass of 60g of plastic per bottle (determined from a selection of 400ml bottles) this equates to 492.24 Kg of single use plastic saved from our initial orders alone.

How about carbon dioxide?

According to this site the average carbon dioxide emission of making and filling water bottles is 0.152Kg per bottle in Europe. We assume that the energy profile of shower product production and drinking water is similar (the reality is the former is higher).

Additionally, using solid shampoo saves on the carbon dioxide emitted due to transporting excess water around (as up to 95% of liquid shower products are water). Based on the numbers from the same site, we expect one shampoo bottle to emit 0.056Kg of carbon dioxide for transporting the water content from the manufacturing plant to the store. To get a number per liquid shower product bottle we used their average of 31g of carbon dioxide per litre of water transported multipled by 0.380 liters of water in each shower product bottle (95% of 400ml) hence an emission of 0.012 kg carbon dioxide per liquid shower product bottle.

So, in total, 1 ScrubsUp Bar can equate to 2 bottles ,each emitting 0.164 Kg (0.012 + 0.152) of carbon dioxide. Hence 1 bar mitigated 0.328 Kg of carbon dioxide emissions.

With 4102 ScrubsUp Bars sold, this equates to a saving of 1345.5 Kg of carbon dioxide for the production of single use liquid shower product bottles

Carbon dioxide and plastic reductions the year after the Kickstarter campaign:

If we assume that each case sold equates to a solid shower user that would have usually have bought the liquid alternative at a rate of 1 bottle a month, then we can assume the 4078 cases sold will equate to 48936 (4078*12) bottles saved over the course of a year. Using the numbers we calculated previously for bottle emissions and plastic mass we could achieve a total savings of up to:

2936.16 Kg of single use plastic saved

8025.5 Kg of carbon dioxide for the production of single use liquid shower product bottles saved

Now, a disclaimer for all these calculations. All the assumptions are taking the savings to the max, that is to say quite optimistic. We realize this and is why we say that we can achieve up to this level of savings. Seeing as we have limited data on what the rate of people who buy the ScrubsUp Cases and then continue using solid shampoo, we are unable to start to tune these numbers to something more realistic.

Furthermore all the calculations presented above are calculations of the savings for carbon dioxide emissions linked to the production of single use plastics, we should remember that producing the ScrubsUp Cases and Bars also have a carbon footprint. As our production methods have yet to stabilize (as we are changing factories, distribution methods and so on) we are unable, as of now, to put a final number on what the carbon foot print per ScrubsUp order is- and this is something that we are working on calculating. The emissions associated with the production of the ScrubsUp Bars are, for the most part, negligible as they are produced in the UK in a manner that is over all a low energy intensive production process (cold pressed ingredients). The majority of our emissions come from our ScrubsUp Cases. For that reason we have assumed that the production and transport of a ScrubsUp Case (made of recycled plastic) is the same as one 0.5L bottle of water (as that has a similar plastic weight and adds on transportation weight as we are not getting the volume efficiencies that water companies might). This is a foot print of 683.0365 Kg of carbon dioxide for all the cases bought through our crowd funding campaigns. Subtracting that from the 1345.5 Kg calculated above, that brings our ‘net’ crowd funding campaign footprint to:

662.4 Kg of carbon dioxide saved

and

492.24 Kg of single use plastic saved

So there you have it. That is how we tried to make sense of what effect our company and product sales could be having on the world. We realize it is far from a perfect calculation- and as the company grows and we are able to gather more data about consumer behaviour as well as our own production methods we are going to be working on improving the accuracy of the numbers we calculated above. Once we have been able to clarify our unknowns and refine these numbers further we will be sure to post another blog post!

Until then, Happy Scrubbing!

The ScrubsUp Team