Winter 2010: Register
Photo courtesy David Schurer
Mr. Clean Goes Green
Using chemistry to create all-natural household cleaning products
By Mallory Goldberg 10C
David Schurer 79B was going to be a rock star. He had no plans to change the household cleaning product industry.
After graduating from Goizueta Business School, Schurer decided to use his business background to help launch his music career. For the next four years, he toured the Southeast with a band.
But with no luck getting a record deal, Schurer immersed himself in his father’s pharmaceutical business. “My father asked me to come to Puerto Rico to help him with new technology,” he says. “I spent almost five years developing the product and trying to get funding. I worked with every major pharmaceutical company.”
When Schurer returned to Atlanta, he started Sorbent Technologies, focusing on chromatography and life science. He and his business partner, Marc Perla, met a chemist who was working with enzymes and described how they break down naturally. They realized this process could be used in cleaning products.
In 2007, they founded EcoDiscoveries, which now offers eight green cleaning products—three enzyme based and five plant based—including kitchen, bath, and glass cleaners. They use all-natural substances to eliminate dirt and grime without toxic chemicals, fragrances, or dyes, Schurer says.
“We were a green company before green was really green,” he says. “Other companies consider themselves green because they do things like recycle, versus the actual formulation of their products having these benefits.”
EcoDiscoveries has received an award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative, which recognizes environmental leaders who voluntarily commit to the use of safer surfactants. Its products are biodegradable and are sold in concentrated form and refillable plastic bottles, which lessens waste and decreases their carbon footprint.
Conventional wisdom holds that green cleaning products don’t work as well as other, stronger solutions. But Schurer says his company’s products, which promise that “safe has an effective side,” are carried in more than 1,200 health food stores nationwide, where they face the ultimate consumer challenge: being both green and able to clean.