Supermarket shelves are awash with products promising to save the earth.
Suppliers can charge a premium for such spotless ethics. But how much are shoppers prepared to pay for a clean conscience in the household aisles?
Not as much as you'd think, it seems. Take EcoForce, a range of household goods including clothes pegs, kitchen scourers, sponges and dusters made from recycled material and priced on a par with or below the competition, with a pack of 24 clothes pegs or a pack of two sponge scourers selling for £1.49.
"Consumers won't pay a lot more just because it's recycled," says Daniel Neumann (above), MD of EasyDo Products, the family firm behind the EcoForce range. "It has to be a good product. It has to be an equivalent price to other products out there, and it has to be recycled."
The low price hasn't stopped EcoForce racking up sales expected to hit £2.4m in 2010, up from £1.1m in 2008, its launch year. Since then it has won listings in Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury's. Next month the latter will start stocking a new peg basket and Ocado will start delivering the entire range, a move that will prompt greater take-up by other UK retailers, predicts Neumann. He is also in talks with most of the big French and German supermarkets, having secured listings in Belgium's Delhaize.
Not bad for a two-year-old brand. Since its launch, Daniel and brother Paul, who front the company founded by grandfather Solomon Neumann in 1968 with the first-ever ceramic cooker cleaning product, have extended the range from clothes pegs made from recycled plastic into kitchen cleaning lines.
Although there are plenty of rivals out there including SpongeTech and 3M's Scotch-Brite range Neumann says EcoForce's green credentials make it a cut above the rest.
"There are an awful lot of products making an awful lot of noise about being recycled but, frankly, their claims can be misleading," he says. "We want to make sure it's obvious our products are not just 10%, 20% or 30% recycled they're around the 90% mark. It seems to be working."
There has been a perception that 'eco products' are not as effective as other products, he says. "That's probably come from the laundry sector." EcoForce has avoided being tarred with that brush, with today about 40% of EasyDo's turnover down to EcoForce. Most of the remaining 60% is driven by just one product Dishmatic, a reusable dish sponge with a handle that can be filled with washing-up liquid (sales are set to hit £9.5m this year).
As demand grows there is unlikely to be a shortage of recycled raw material. The EU's new Waste Framework Directive requires ratified countries to recycle 50% of household waste by 2020.
"Although there are many companies using recycled materials, very few are bringing them back to market in consumer-visible products," says Neumann. "This needs to happen more if we are to continue to ask people to spend increasing amounts of time recycling."
With the UK expected to ratify the WFD this year, the current climate warming or not appears to be on EcoForce's side.