The hairdressing industry is one of the biggest polluters on the high street. We set out to change that.
Did you know that in the UK there are approximately 42,000 hair salons and barbers? (1)
Most of them still use and launder cotton or synthetic towels. These towels are all being washed and dried with washing machines and tumble dryers which need lots of water, energy and chemicals to do their job.
An average salon will launder 200 towels per week. That means that in the UK alone the hairdressing industry is flushing away a staggering 42 MILLION litres of chemically contaminated water each week!
Man-made global warming, our impact on the world’s limited resources and rising sea levels concern us all. The United Nations IPCC has warned us about the impact of burning fossil fuels and its contribution towards man-made global warming since the 1990s.
Even if we’re cautious with our estimates, the amount of CO2 released into our Earth’s atmosphere by UK hairdressing salons alone is well in excess of 15 Million Kg per year.
It’s not just our energy and water consumption that we need to keep an eye on. An average washing load of synthetic and polyester blend fabrics can release up to 700,000 individual microplastics and 50 litres of chemically contaminated water into our rivers and oceans!
We’d like to introduce you to Rob.
Rob Cooper is a 4th generation environmentally focused textile entrepreneur. He wanted to use his background and knowledge in disposable textiles to make a global difference.
A chance conversation with a Scottish salon owner in 2008 brought his attention to the environmental damage caused by laundering towels and highlighted the need for a credible, sustainable alternative to cotton towels. This was a product that Rob knew he could create.
With a clear goal of reducing the environmental damage of the hairdressing business, Rob set about creating Scrummi.
Rob’s goal was to produce a sustainable and biodegradable towel that would work better than a washable salon towel. It was important that the manufacture and supply of these towels were considered throughout the process to ensure that the entire environmental life cycle impact was minimal.
In 2010 after 18 months of testing and researching products with a local group of salon owners Scrummi Towels was officially launched – A genuine sustainable and biodegradable alternative to cotton towels for the hairdressing industry which reduces the environmental impact of salon towels by 90%
From day one we recognised the importance of Sustainability and Ethics in everything that we do. How sustainable is a biodegradable towel if it’s made in unregulated, polluting factories with questionable employment practices, and then shipped to the other side of the world before being used. It just means transferring the environmental burden to poorer communities in Asia.
90% of our products are locally made within 500 miles of our head office in West Malling. This leads to close relationships with our supply partners, provides local employment and gives us complete visibility of our supply chain. Importantly, we verify the source of all of our products back through the fibre manufacture and wood source to ensure our products do not contain wood from ancient forests or fibre from polluting factories.
We also stand behind our claims. Everything we say and claim is independently checked and confirmed. Want to know how our towels are biodegradable? We’ll send you the test report. Worried about factory pollution? Come visit one of our factories to see for yourself.
Nearly 10 years later Scrummi is the European market leader and is fully committed to sustainable product development and has expanded to meet all of the needs to a salon who wishes to be truly laundry free and sustainable.
Today Scrummi is used by 1000’s of salons and spas (including industry leaders such as L’oreal, Olaplex, Paul Mitchell, Toni & Guy, and Wella) throughout Europe, the Middle East and the USA to reduce their impact on the environment.
From our head office in West Malling, Kent process thousands of orders each month which ship from our two distribution centres in Maidstone, Kent and Boxtel in the Netherlands, this ensures fast delivery and reduces shipping miles to our European customers.
Last year, we were really proud to have reduced the hair and beauty industry’s impact on the environment by more than 92 MILLION litres of chemically contaminated water and 3.5 MILLION Kilograms of C02 emissions.
How we make a Scrummi
Scrummi Towels start life at Cedar and Eucalyptus trees – cellulose from wood is used to produce fibres that Scrummi bind together to make their towels, applying innovative and sustainable processes for eco-conscious manufacturing. All of the wood sources for their salon towels are procured from Central European forests. Their wood supplies come from forestry operations that are certified according to recognised sustainability criteria, such as the FSC® and PEFCTM standards. Austria is the biggest wood contributor of fibres for Scrummi production. The yearly volume of wood regrowth in certified Austrian forests is 10 million cubic meters higher than the wood quantities harvested per year. Strict legal regulations throughout Central Europe ensure compliance with this sustainability principle.
The Scrummi fibres are then entangled together using high pressured jets of water, no chemicals, additives or binders are used in the manufacturing process.
The amount of water used in the creation of each individual Scrummi towel is approx 35ml and 96% per cent of this water is recycled back into the system after a microbiological filtration process.
The energy used in the entire lifecycle of a Scrummi Towel including its manufacture is 90% less than the energy used by washing machine to clean a single cotton towel.
At the end of a Scrummi towel’s life cycle, it fully biodegrades in about 100 days. They decompose back into their original components of CO2 and water, thus preparing the ground on which new plants can grow.
Scrummi is independently tested and the results show they biodegrade faster than a range of papers and cards and are close runners up to food waste in the time they take to fully decompose.
Scrummi verifies the source of all of their towels back through the fibre manufacture and wood source to ensure our products do not contain wood from ancient forests or fibre from polluting factories.
How can a disposable towel be Green?
It is worth noting here that Scrummi is often confronted with the very credible 3R’s argument – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and this is highly regarded as a way to reduce the negative effects of waste on our environment. Of course, this is by and large the best way to reduce waste and protect our planet against the damage caused by plastic waste and disposable products.
However, there are always exceptions to the rule – “Re-using” cotton towels in this instance causes much more damage to our environment than using Scrummi Towels. The facts and figures highlighted in the opening paragraphs of our story show just how harmful washing cotton can be, on top of the environmental statistics – salons often still dispose of their cotton towels after as little as 30 washes as they tend to become threadbare and discoloured because of hair dyes and bleaches. Cotton will biodegrade in 6-9 months, but it is also important to consider a high percentage of towels are synthetic and contain polyester and other plastics that simply do not break down for thousands of years.
Scrummi Towels are very careful to monitor and evaluate their production methods and suppliers.
It is important to Scrummi that their products offer a genuinely superior product to their customers and rely on feedback and conversation to help them grow their product range where possible to reduce waste in the average salon.
It is Scrummi’s long term goal that the biodegradable salon towel becomes synonymous within the industry and replaces cotton towels as their standard go-to product. No salon should ever have to do any more laundry – ever!
- Excerpt taken from Book: How Bad are Bananas? By Mike Berners-Lee