While the biggest names in the sector - Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser, for example - have made pledges to help the environment, some producers see environmental concerns as their raison d'être.

Take Easy-Do Products, which makes the EcoForce range of 90%-recycled products, including cloths, dusters, sponges and even clothes peg baskets. Despite the economic climate, consumers remain concerned about the green credentials of cleaning products, says managing director Daniel Neumann. "Although household budgets are stretched, many people want to help the environment."

Recycled products are one way they can do that and for those who want to avoid using chemicals, EnviroProducts' e-cloth range of microfibre cloths clean using nothing but water. The repackaged range was extended this year, to include a scouring cloth and a product for cleaning stone surfaces. Another operator putting environmental concerns first is Bentley Organic, a family-run business that has been making soap for five generations. Its line-up includes a range of Soil Association-certified organic surface cleaners sold through Ocado and independent retailers.

Arguably the biggest 'green' name in the household products market is Ecover, which produces biodegradable products made from plant-based ingredients. Like many in the industry, the company believes that, although customers value the environmental credentials of a product, performance and value are vital.

"We have relaunched our laundry range due to a growing demand for products that are even better in terms of both performance and cost effectiveness, for example, improved cleaning at low temperatures, without compromising on their ecological criteria," says Ecover brand manager Emma Bennetts.

In line with market trends, last year Ecover relaunched its powders in a more concentrated formula. "This means less powder per box, a smaller box size (now 750g) and less packaging," says Bennetts.

The upmarket Method brand also went the concentrated route in July 2010, launching a laundry detergent it claims is eight times more concentrated than a traditional one.

Focus On Household