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A Pile of Peels to Orange Power

Date: 12-Apr-13

L-R: Planet Ark's Paul Klymenko, Borneo Orangutan Society Foundation's Louise Grossfeldt, and Andrew Chaney © Zo Zhou

L-R: Planet Ark's Paul Klymenko, Borneo Orangutan Society Foundation's Louise Grossfeldt, and Andrew Chaney

The Orange Power range of products was born when Andrew Chaney saw a pile of orange peel waste on a trip to Mildura and thought: there must be a use for this. From these humble beginnings, Andrew created a successful greener cleaner business. The company manufactures environmentally responsible Orange Power cleaning and air freshening products, Aware laundry products and Actizyme drain cleaners. 

Andrew is Managing Director of Aware Environmental Ltd, which is now a leading Australian ‘green' company. Planet Ark proudly endorses both Aware and Orange Power products, so we decided to catch up with Andrew about how he got to where he is today, and the lessons learnt along the way.

What made you start Aware Environmental?
I had always wanted to challenge myself and start something on my own. I believed I had enough experience seeing how other companies ran their businesses and, as you do when you are young, I thought I could do it better! It all started when my brother Iain and I noticed piles of orange peel waste during a trip to Mildura in Victoria. We thought about ways to utilise it, and then discovered the oil from the skins could be used in a range of cleaning products. Subsequently, Orange Power was born in 1999. Ten years later, we expanded the business with the acquisition of laundry brand Aware and drain cleaner brand Actizyme under our new name Aware Environmental Ltd. Our goal has always remained the same - to offer Australian consumers environmentally sustainable alternatives to household products that really work, and by doing so eliminate the use of unsustainable and environmentally damaging chemicals.

What are some of the most memorable responses or bits of feedback you've received from customers?
There is nothing more gratifying than seeing an idea progress through the development and testing stage and then to production and getting feedback from customers on how it influences their daily lives. This is why we started the company, and why we continue to produce lines that make it simple for people to be green at home. I read every single piece of feedback received from customers and always take the time to reply because they are the reason why we're still here. We don't have the marketing budgets to compete with the big players, but what we do have is incredibly loyal and passionate customers who are willing to tell their friends about us. That's more important to us. Some of the feedback we have already received on our new Aware Sensitive range has been fantastic, from relieved parents who have finally found a laundry product that doesn't irritate their child's skin through to chronic allergy sufferers who don't have to worry about their laundry products impacting their quality of life.

What have you learnt from setting up your own successful environmental business?
When we first entered the domestic cleaning category we were merely a ‘niche' supplier competing against big household brands. Initially it was perceived that because our products were environmentally responsible they were more expensive yet lacked the performance of the bigger brands.We quickly learnt the importance of having a unique point of difference in the market. As a result we became the very first laundry brand to remove palm oil derived ingredients from our formulas, and remain one of only a few companies to have done so. We have put our products through rigorous independent scrutiny and we are proud that our Orange Power and Aware brands are the only ones of their kind to be endorsed by Planet Ark.

What's one thing people might be surprised to know about Aware Environmental?
Many people don't know that Orange Power was born after discovering an alternative use for peeled orange skins. It's truly been an environmentally responsible venture right from the start!

Our products are also completely palm oil free and contain no harsh chemicals like most domestic brands. Our Aware Sensitive range was actually recently approved by the National Asthma Council Australia's Sensitive Choice® program, indicating the benefit to people with asthma and allergies.

One thing everyone should know is all of our products are manufactured right here in Australia. In fact, we've just upgraded to a new, much larger manufacturing facility in Dandenong, Victoria which has one of the fastest filling lines in the country. It's pretty much fully sustainable and I'm proud to say I've seen nothing like it. Also, many people are surprised at how hands on Iain and my roles are in the business. Customers could call our factory and speak to us if they wanted to. You can't say that about too many manufacturers of domestic cleaning products!

Thanks Andrew for taking the time to answer our questions and provide some insight into the story behind your work!

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