Our oceans are full of plastic. Yet on land, there is not enough recycled plastic to make green home appliances. In the summer of 2010, Electrolux set out on a global mission to raise awareness around the plastic problem and their Green Quest to produce 100% recycled vacuum cleaners. No other subject is as discussed and diluted as the environment, so how do you make your voice heard?
Vacs from the Sea. From left, North Sea, Indian Ocean, Baltic Sea, Pacific Ocean, Mediterranean Sea.
One Paragraph Description of Project Electrolux Green Quest: 100% recycled vacuum cleaners. Insight: Shortage of plastic on land – plastic islands in oceans. Goal: Raise plastic issue awareness. Increase distribution of Green Range-vacuum cleaners. Solution: Vac from the Sea – Harvest marine plastics. Make vacuum cleaners out of it. Results: Reach 153,6 million. 300% increased distribution of Green Range-vacs.
Challenge & Opportunity When a new range of vacuum cleaners made from 55-70% plastic – the Green Range – was to be rolled out in the end of 2010, Electrolux wanted to promote this range and also create an emotional relationship to something as tedious as recycled plastic. Electrolux wished to show that a cleaner home can be linked to a cleaner world.
Research & Planning Home appliance manufacturer Electrolux operates in 150 countries and is present in the homes of millions. While the potential for making a real environmental difference is huge, green vacuum cleaners have yet to become a natural component of a green lifestyle, such as the hybrid car is today. To establish Electrolux’ commitment, the company has made its “Green Quest”- declaration public. Each part of the company has green goals – the long term goal of the Floor Care unit is to produce vacs made from 100% recycled plastic.
However, a shortage of recycled plastic in the world is holding Electrolux back. Only about 20% of plastics in Western Europe are being recycled, and the rates vary greatly. At the same time there are so-called gyres in the oceans, where the world’s plastic waste cumulates in enormous masses. The Pacific Gyre is estimated to be the size of Texas.
Objectives Raise awareness around the plastic recycling issue. Increase European distribution of Green Range vacs by 50%.
Strategic Approach In a transparent world – companies cannot communicate corporate social responsibility through only words – words must be proven true through action. The strategy for showing Electrolux green commitment and promoting the Green Range-vacuum cleaners was built on creating a long term project and initiative.
Left: Vac from the Sea-collection sites. Right: Organization B.E.A.C.H. with VFTS-bags filled with plastic found on Hawaii.
Insight The Plastic Paradox: Shortage of recycled plastic on land – islands of plastic in oceans.
Solution The project “Vac from the Sea”: Collect plastics from the world’s oceans. Manufacture vacuum cleaners from it.
Execution Environmental organizations from all over the world were engaged in collecting plastic for concept vacuum cleaners, each representing a specific ocean. All parts of Electrolux, from CEO to Design, RnD and sales, were ultimately involved. The project grew continuously through the following main PR-driving elements:
Corporate site: Vac from the Sea-blog on Electrolux.com used as social media news room. Spokes persons: CEO writes the first blog post/Sustainability VP is spokes person throughout project. Social media: Sustainability VP update the VFTS Twitter and Facebook. Ambassadors/ambassador channels: Environmental organizations/environmentalist blog guest writers. Physical/visual message carriers: The physical vacs, Video News Release/graphics explaining mission. B2B-tool: Internal sales film used by Electrolux to explain VFTS and Green Quest to retail. Rapid response team: Personal/continuous media dialogue. Exhibitions: The vacs have been put on display in over 10 countries, e.g. The DaVinci Museum (Milano).
? Increased sales distribution of Green Range vacuum cleaner on European market: 300%
? Reach: 153,6 million (Measurements: Meltwater)
? Tonality: 95% positive press. (Measurements: Meltwater)
? Leading target media reported on initiative. E.g. CNN, Wired, Reuters, Sweden’s largest news agency TT, Fast Company, The Discovery Channel, Design Boom and The Independent.
Unexpected results
? Environmental award from organisation ”Keep Norway Clean”.
? Speaker opportunity invites for Cecilia Nord – Sustainability VP, e.g. LCA Sustainable Design Conference (Miami, USA).
? New partnerships signed in plastic industry/organisations focusing on plastics.
? VFTS-blog has become most visited page on global electrolux.com (drive traffic here was not set goal).
? International high profile NGO:s/commercial stake holders have contacted Electrolux, wishing to cooperate in solving the plastic issue.