ecostore – manufacturer of household and personal cleaning products is a New Zealand based company with a strong drive towards innovation and improvements into effectiveness of its products. This case captures ecostore’s journey to introduce a new technology – green packaging made from sugar cane (carbon captureTM pak) and examines the difficulties surrounding its adoption. The technology is its early stages of its development and market acceptance.
In the case, students are guided to evaluate company values, culture, underlying philosophies, and business aspirations before evaluating the decision. The case portraits ecostore’s unique business philosophy and commitment to avoid using commonly accepted chemicals normally deemed as safe by the industry in their formulas and to stay true to their precautionary principle to avoid using any chemical where no impact on health can be determined. After this consideration, the case introduces a new idea for ecostore: to implement a sugar cane based plastic for their product portfolio. This new technology could set the firm apart from the other firms that operate in an environmentally responsible manner and can cause disrupt into packaging market. ecostore is about to choose from three potential partners and the decision presents a significant challenge to a firm and its operations. However, if successful, the technology can change the demand and nature of packaging of the entire industry and ecostore can become a potential partner for other businesses who will pursue the implementation of this technology.
The case enables students to better understand challenges of pursuing innovation in a context of an established business and invites discussion on environmental practices, processes associated with innovation, scrutinizes the information asymmetry between chemicals used in household and personal cleaning industry, and makes students to evaluate possible partners to implement the new technology. Furthermore, the case presents major producers of sugar based plastic and outlines benefits and challenges associated whilst partnering with one of them. Students are guided to make a decision based on information provided in the case and additional research. The teaching notes reveal the final ecostore’s decision.
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