How Two Engineers Made Scotch-Brite® Heavy Duty Scrub Sponges Sustainable and Effective
Jun 19, 2019

Going from zero to 100% recycled scrubbing fibers didn’t happen overnight for Scotch-Brite® Heavy Duty Scrub Sponges.

“It took years of formulation work to find a total construction that worked,” said Kaylee Schmall, a product developer in the Home Care Division (HCD) Lab.

Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty Scrub Sponges are the iconic yellow sponges with a green scrubbing layer. As consumers seek more sustainable options, Scotch-Brite has paired the use of recycled content with superior scrubbing technology. 

“Sustainability is very important to 3M and our customers,” said Alex Toupal, product developer, HCD Lab.  “We’ve developed a product that uses recycled fiber that doesn’t compromise performance.”

Switching to recycled fibers wasn’t easy, though. Changing one component affected how the whole product held together and performed, said Kaylee.

That’s why the two engineers were excited when, after a significant amount of lab work, they were able to reformulate the green scrubbing fibers from 100% recycled plastic so they still matched the performance of traditional scrubbing fibers.

“This allows us to have a sustainable product that still works the same,” Kaylee said. “We wanted to make sure the product we created met the needs of our customers.”

With the change, 100% recycled scrubbing fibers will not only be incorporated into Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty Scrub Sponges, but also in U.S. versions of the following 3M products:

• Scotch-Brite® Non-Scratch Scrub Sponges (blue)

• Scotch-Brite® Gentle Clean Scrub Sponges (pink)

• Select Scotch-Brite® Dishwand Refills

• Scotch-Brite® Non-Scratch and Heavy Duty Scour Pads

“Enhancing our products to fit the circular economy is a focus at 3M, the Consumer Business Group, and the Scotch-Brite™ Brand,” said Marketing Manager Lisa Bloomer. “We’re pleased to combine this exciting material innovation that leverages recycled content with the superior scrubbing performance our customers rely on with our brand.”

That means the sponges will still remove tough, baked-on messes, which makes them ideal for kitchen, garage and even outdoor use. Just as important, when U.S. customers use their favorite scrubbing sponge now, their ability to clean won’t be their only advantage.

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