Tru Earth eliminates plastic pollution, one jar of laundry detergent at a time

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Brad Liski, CEO and Co-Founder of Tru Earth.

Rafal Gerszak / The Globe and Mail

Every year, at least eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped into the ocean, the equivalent of dumping a garbage truck into the ocean every minute. Unless we dramatically reduce our plastic consumption, researchers believe the amount of plastic dumped into our oceans will almost triple by 2040, to 29 million metric tonnes per year.

These sobering numbers are what drives Brad Liski as the co-founder and CEO of Tru Earth, a zero-waste, eco-friendly household cleaning company based in Port Moody, British Columbia. Top Mail Growing Companies in 2021, its second year on the list.

Cleaning product waste might not stand out like a typical environmental offender, but Liski is quick to highlight how seemingly small throwaway packaging adds up in astronomical ways.

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“Over 30 billion loads of laundry are done in North America each year and over 700 million jugs are thrown away each year,” he says. As an alternative to these single-use plastic containers, Tru Earth manufactures highly concentrated pre-dosed detergent strips in compact, compostable cardboard packaging. “In the past two years, we have removed more than five million cans from landfills. We are aiming for 700 million. This is our goal.

Tru Earth products at the Tru Earth retail store in Port Moody, BC.

Rafal Gerszak / The Globe and Mail

Tru Earth was launched with the Detergent Tapes in 2019, when a member of Mr Liski’s extended family talked about a new product he had invested in that would change the way we do laundry, but the owners had struggling to bring the product to market. . Mr. Liski is a serial entrepreneur who founded 25 companies, including Recycle Regina, a private recycling company that predated the city’s program. To see if the product lived up to the hype, Mr. Liski and his two partners, Ryan McKenzie and Kevin Hinton, tried the product at home. “Our three families concluded: this stuff really works.”

Mr. Liski, Mr. McKenzie and Mr. Hinton reached an agreement with the patent holder for the exclusivity of the product and began to plan the launch strategy for the company. With 25 years of experience in subscription services, they set a goal of signing up at least 150 people in 30 days. Instead, they entered 1,500. “That’s when we knew we had something more than just a cool product,” says Liski.

Tru Earth continued to enroll new subscribers and expand to retail stores across North America throughout 2019 and into early 2020. But during the pandemic, the company’s growth exploded. . In the previous fiscal year, the company’s revenue was $ 36 million and this fiscal year they are on track to reach $ 55 million.

Since its launch, Tru Earth has grown from seven to 230 employees. All detergent tapes are produced in Moncton, New Brunswick and then shipped to distribution centers located in British Columbia, Ontario, Washington, Tennessee and Utah. They have customers in 65 countries, with their largest markets in the US, UK and Australia.

During the pandemic, the growth of Tru Earth exploded. In the previous fiscal year, the company’s revenue was $ 36 million and this fiscal year they are on track to reach $ 55 million.

Rafal Gerszak / The Globe and Mail

Mr Liski believes there are several reasons the company has grown so much over the past 18 months. Supply chain issues have kept consumers from buying their detergent of choice at their local grocery store, forcing them to look for locally produced alternatives. In addition, more and more people have turned to online shopping for household items, which has benefited Tru Earth as a direct-to-consumer business. Finally, the past 18 months have highlighted the effects of the climate crisis, leading more people to consider the impact of their daily choices.

Another big reason? Detergent strips are foolproof. Each strip, about 10 centimeters long, 5 centimeters wide and a few millimeters thick, is equivalent to a load of laundry, dissolves completely in hot and cold water, and works in all types washing machines. “Before this product, I was fired from the laundry in my house for putting on too much soap and having to rinse it again,” says Liski. The bands are also paraben and phosphate free, hypoallergenic, free from animal ingredients and biodegradable.

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“We are disrupting a very big industry with very big players,” says Liski. “We hope to disrupt the entire consumer packaged goods market.” The company has recruited some of these people already: the current COO is from Keurig and Gillette, the company vice president is from Dow Chemical, and its marketing and sales directors are from Johnson & Johnson. Tru Earth is currently working to expand its product line to include bathroom and kitchen cleaning products. While their products are already available worldwide, Mr Liski hopes to expand into the markets of Southern Europe and Southeast Asia.

The company is also focused on expanding the charitable aspects of its business. Tru Earth has donated over 10 million loads of laundry detergent to those in need, which equals $ 5 million. Last spring, the company partnered with the non-profit conservation organization Ocean Wise to develop The Great American Shoreline Cleanup, an extension of the Canadian version started in 1994. “Our growth doesn’t stop, and I think it’s because the key performance indicators that drive our business are not necessarily profits and revenues. These are pitchers and gifts. How many jugs can we save from landfills and oceans? And how much have we given to those in need? Being socially oriented has allowed us to grow.

In this series, we ask some of Canada’s fastest growing companies to share tips on finding new and innovative paths to success in an unpredictable business environment.


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