As paper market struggles, BJ Ball expands into cleaning products

What do you do when you are in a tough industry - commercial print? Kiwi paper manufacturer BJ Ball's response has been to branch out into environmental cleaning products.

Faced with a tough paper market worldwide, Kiwi paper distributor BJ Ball has branched into producing eco-friendly cleaning products.

At first glance this might appear an unlikely match.

Not according to Ken Collin, general manager of Green Kleen, an initiative of BJ Ball Group. He says BJ Ball purchased Fujifilm Chemicals New Zealand in October 2013.  

“We then developed a whole range of natural products from our manufacturing plant in Manukau..  [Green Kleen] was a logical extension of our focus on eco business and sustainable sourcing.”

The growth of computers and the internet, and the decline in newspaper sales, has seen paper manufacturers struggle worldwide. The Tasman Mill in Kawerau closed one of its two paper machines in 2013. 

Green Kleen hit supermarkets in New Zealand late in 2014, offering home cleaners and – potentially a New Zealand first – car cleaning products.

Collin says the range is priced just below mainstream cleaning brands, making them particularly competitive with other eco cleaning products.

He says independent research shows eco products only have a 10% share of supermarket sales in household cleaning, but the category is growing at 10%, as opposed to only 2% for mainstream cleaners.

"Demand for eco-friendly cleaning is at a tipping point. We know that although purchasers want to be more environmentally friendly, the category's potential has been limited by a perception it is over-priced."

Collin says Green Kleen's existing manufacturing expertise gives the company an advantage over competitors as it enters the market.

“We already have manufacturing facilities with no capital costs and sit in quite a large company, so we can run off the back of already well established infrastructure and computer systems.

He says the products are formulated using natural and non-hazardous ingredients. “We are at base camp about to climb this mountain. We offer two distinct product lines with really high quality ingredients”.

The Green Kleen range carries the independently-certified New Zealand Environmental Choice eco label which, covers the whole production chain including packaging and recycling.  

Collin says the brand is getting positive feedback.  

"We are our competitors’ worst nightmare.”