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Freshback: The End of Laundry As We Know It

By allowing people to wash clothes less often, Freshback minimizes laundry detergent and additive packaging consumption for all end-users.

Photo of Anthony Hayt
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Freshback Laundry Treatment is designed to fundamentally change the way we do laundry around the globe. By allowing people to wash their clothing and linens far less than normal while maintaining the freshness and hygiene of normal laundry cycles, Freshback disrupts the use of detergents and laundry additives, many of which are packaged with plastic caps, spoons/scoops, lids, bottles, and liners. These small- and medium-format plastic goods are a detriment to the environment not only as end-stage waste, but also in their manufacture and shipping. 

Freshback uses patented technology to bond all-natural and food grade freshening agents to clothing that create an imperceptible, permanent barrier against odours caused by bacteria and mildew. This includes body odour and sour smelling towels. Through this technology, clothing can be worn in even the sweatiest of conditions while remaining fresh, removing the need to launder un-soiled items for days or even weeks. Similarly, linens that might otherwise build up strong mildew odors over the course of only a few days can now stay fresh for weeks. 

By cutting the need to wash un-soiled items, the amount of detergent and laundry additive packaging can be reduced 3-7 times in a household with Freshback-treated items. Furthermore, the reduction seen in small-format plastics is mirrored in the savings of water, effluent pollution, and electricity/gas that are also used when laundry is done. 

Overall, cost will vary by market and be dictated by the supported price for the region. The product has launched in Canada with an introductory price of CAN$19.95/kit. Each kit does one medium load of laundry, with peak freshness ability guaranteed for at least one year or 20 washings*. Because the product is permanently bonded to linens, and because customer use and linen types vary, many customers may find that the product works far longer than a year. I personally have several shirts that were treated a year ago and show no signs of product degradation. Similarly, the product will not just stop working, but may just not be quite as effective as the cloth begins to wear.

*People often say, 'If I wear something each week, 20 washings isn't even half a year.' But this response shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the product's function. Wearing a garment each week, assuming it remains unsoiled, will require washing it only be washed once a month or less. At this rate, twenty washings would be nearly two years worth of freshness after only one treatment. Again, on a personal note, I can wear most of my gym shirts 6 or 7 times before they build up enough body oil to need washing, effectively cutting what was once a wash load/week to a load/month.

Company / Organization Name

maaterra Biotechnology

Website

http://www.freshback.com
http://www.maaterra.com

Where are you / your team located?

Tel Aviv, Israel; Eugene, OR; and Pittsburgh, PA.

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

Freshback is not designed to change small-format plastics themselves, but to fundamentally alter the amount of those plastics used by end-users. By cutting the need to wash un-soiled items, the amount of detergent and additive packaging can be reduced 3-7 times for Freshback-treated items. This means that any detergent or laundry additive purchased by a user will last 3-7 times longer than it currently does, thus leaving only a fraction of the normal waste at the end of the item's lifecycle.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Single-use cachet for liquid items.
Single-use cachet for powder items.
Single-use cachet for solid items.
Tear-off seals.
Repeated-use lids.
Repeated-use scoops.
Repeated-use spoons.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

Freshback's main challenges are as follows:

Passing regulations around the globe that involve antimicrobial treatments;
Re-educating consumers that a Freshback-treated item that has been worn is not dirty unless it is truly soiled;
And, finding distributors around the world who can compete against current detergent manufacturers to allow freshback a place on the shelf of every store.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Operating Concept / Startup: You have fulfilled the stages of testing, undertaken a full scale roll-out, and are currently operating this concept/idea as a business.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

The simple answer is that money, media outreach, and access to distribution channels will allow us to meet our main challenges head on, respectively. We have a laboratory- and real-world-tested product that is ready to launch around the world. We simply need people to know about it, and to be legally allowed to sell it.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

Our idea originally came from work in a green-chemistry lab at a top-rated US university. From there, the idea to be able to make a product for home use that could dramatically alter our use of water, detergent and laundry additives and their packaging, and energy resources wasted in over-laundering items, was fully realized and developed.

Tell us about your work experience

I am a former teacher with a PhD in English. Our CEO is an entrepreneur, inventor, and former pro cyclist. Two business/logistics specialist, and two career marketing experts complete our team.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

We are incorporated in Israel as an LTD.

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Photo of LOLIWARE EDIBLE BIOPLASTICS
Team

This is brilliant! I'm interested in the impact numbers for the average household here--water usage is probably the easiest, but also the weight of plastic spared by washing less frequently (and if you're one of those people who gets their laundry folded at the laundromat, not using the plastic sacks!).
I was going to ask how your product compares to the LG Styler, which was my first association with washless clothes refreshing (you can see it here http://www.lg.com/us/styler if you haven't heard of it), but I realized while finding the url that I'm talking about a $2000 machine when you can keep a load fresh with twenty bucks. If we had an emoji keyboard, I'd totally give you heart eyes.

Photo of Anthony
Team

Hi LOLIWARE! Thanks so much for your comments. Indeed, the option to treat any clothing item one chooses on a small budget as opposed to buying a new washing machine is certainly an apples to snowballs comparison! This link (http://www.dizolve.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Dizolve-laundry-detergent-environmental-impact-infographic.jpg) has a great infographic about laundry consumption. If one were to wear clothing 3 times between washes instead of one, you can see how the impact on water, plastic jugs, and carbon emissions from transport would look cut by 1/3. My current workout shirt has 5 gym days, one lawn-mowing, and four days of 'lounging' in it. I tossed it to my father-in-law the other day and asked him how it smelled. He said, "It smells good. It smells clean." All my other workout gear gets roughly the same number of wears before I wash them, so my numbers are roughly 1/10 of the norm for those treated items.

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