Green Oil UK Limited

Green Oil UK Limited: Green Oil cradle to cradle plant based bio-lubricant and bike accessories.

Brixton, London., United KingdomEverywhere the product is sold, world wide., United Kingdom
Year Founded:
2008
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Petrochemicals and PTFE enter the environment via people's bikes every year. ending up in rivers and the sea.
Green Oil makes alternative lubricants without petrochemicals and PTFE, instead using 27 different plants.
With a cradle to cradle approach, bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if no petrochemicals and PTFE went into the environment? Imagine a world where the ocean is completely clean. Imagine if every product was made from recycled materials and was re-fillable and recyclable. This would be the world of Green Oil.
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

PTFE and petrochemical pollution from lubricant and other bicycle products, all of which goes into the environment, and on people's skin. PTFE makes a carcinogen in its production. Most plastic bottles are not made from recycled plastic. Low market demand for recycled plastic means that less plastic is recycled than should be. Many wood products directly cause deforestation. Many companies manufacture faraway, with a high carbon footprint.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Green Oil uses plant based ingredients instead of PTFE and petrochemicals, meaning that all Green Oil products are 100% biodegradable. The 100ml bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic from UK recycling bins-, 'closing the loop' so to speak. The Bicycle Brush made from wood is FSC certified, guaranteeing the wood is sustainable, not causing deforestation, and also educating people about the FSC mark – encouraging them not to by hardwood furniture. The Green Oil range is made in the UK, much closer to the European market where they are sold. The seeds included in the Eco Rider Deluxe gift set also encourage people to grow their own food.

Awards

2008 Bromley Environment Award, BikeBiz Rising Star Award 2010, Bromley Best Business for Sustainability 2010, Bromley Business of the Year 2010, Guardian Sustainable Business Awards Finalist 2014.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

A single bottle of Green Oil chain lube uses a 100% recycled plastic bottle, this fact encourages the user to recycle (knowing that plastic put in a recycling bin actually gets turned into something) and creates a market demand for councils to recycle plastic rather than landfill or incinerate it. Every bottle sold means 100ml less PTFE and petrochemicals going into the environment. Literally every drop of oil put on a bike will end up in the environment - be it from rain and mud taking the product off, or when the bike is cleaned. Each bottle of Green Oil chain lube sold in the UK will likely be displacing an imported bottle, meaning less CO2. PTFE and petrochemicals are often linked to skin problems. Green Oil stops this risk.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Over 100,000 bottles have been sold. That’s 100,000 bottles worth of PTFE and petrochemicals which have been displaced from the market and therefore 100,000 bottles of toxic fluid stopped from going into the environment. 100,000 bottles worth of recycled plastic used - this helps stop plastic being incinerated or going to landfill. If there were no market demand for recycled plastic, a lot of it would be incinerated instead, meaning more oil exploration, more energy use in the production of plastics, plus a larger carbon footprint. The Green Oil range has displaced sales of American lubricant products in the UK, meaning less CO2 from transport. The FSC certified Bicycle Brush has educated hundreds of riders about FSC certification.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Branding, distribution, marketing and new products. For a long time the branding wasn't right. Then a graphic design company did a re-brand - which was not so good, with all the products having 'Green Oil' in huge letters at the top. This meant people thought the bike cleaner and other non-lube products were just another bottle of lubricant. With the new branding, being phased in just now the products look perfect. This is expected to increase sales by 50% or more. Distribution is key. Now production and branding issues have been solved, distributors around the world will be sought.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Everything is based upon a growth in sales. Costs are kept low. A small office in Brixton and outsourced production ensure this. We haven’t wasted any money on a private jet just yet. Most money has been focussed on the re-brand, something which is key to Green Oil's continued growth. Green Oil is quite unique in selling direct to consumers, to bike shops, and through distributors. This will continue.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Green Oil was the first bicycle bio-lubricant. A competitor called 'Pure' copied Green Oil, even using the same cap design. However, this 'green' range is made by a petrochemical company which still makes bike lubricants so polluting they explicitly say 'Dangerous for the Environment' on the side. They have no plan to stop making these, they made the range simple to take the 'green' market share, whilst still actively promoting and selling petrochemical products. Another company called Muc-Off puts the phrase 'biodegradable' on it's lubricants, even when not biodegradable and containing PTFE.
Team

Founding Story

I Simon Nash, the founder of Green Oil was mountain biking through the river Quaggy. I realised I had petrochemical lubricant on the chain and that it was going in the water, and that this was probably not good for the environment. I looked for an eco-friendly lubricant and there was nothing out there. In my final year at the University of Southampton, I developed Green Oil chain lube after numerous tests and rides in Lords Wood. With a formula that worked, I printed off some labels designed in Microsoft Word, glued them to some bottles found through ebay and sold my first bottle to some cyclists in central London. A few magazine reviews later, and I formed a company.

Team

I'm the director; I've learnt a hell of a lot doing this, from graphic design, marketing, accounting, to sales, distribution, copyrighting and more. I have two degrees from Southampton University including a Masters in Strategic Entrepreneurship. The factory where the products are made have people employed to make the products, and distributors deal with most of the sales side. My father Clive helps out, and I employ one other person to help. A small team, which I would love to grow to include an administration assistant and full time marketing and sales person.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Through Hatch (One Planet Venture)'s mailing list

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Company Founder and Director

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Responsible Consumption and Production.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

I went almost straight from being a student into business. However, at school I sold locker shelves I made in the CDT department. When I started, a friend bet me £1 I wouldn't sell any. Two days later he was my first customer, having forgotten our bet! As a student at Southampton University I founded the Green Action society to promote the aims of Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the People and Planet NGO. I also set up a small business selling bikes which I found and fixed from a university skip.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

I have no one. I have some friends running companies on a similar level, one friend of one of my parents who's a company director and I can contact when needed but I 've never had a mentor and would really like one.

File attachments: