agave plant

Source for Good

Cleaning supplies should make the whole world cleaner, not just the home. But we didn’t expect tequila would be the answer.

Mexico landscape shot
Mexico

The Tequila Trail

Jalisco, Mexico is the tequila state: in 2011, over 41 million gallons of tequila were produced here by 145 registered distilleries. It took over 700,000 tons of agave to make.

Source: “Statistics 1994–2011”. Consejo Regulador del Tequila. February 2012.

agave plants in field

Up to a Decade of Energy

The answer, until recently, was nothing much: it was often left to decompose in the fields. But it takes 6–10 years of farming - spending energy and water - to grow agave before it’s harvested for tequila. That’s up to a decade’s worth of energy that could be reused.

agave fibres used in 3M innovations
“Sustainability is about using materials to their fullest. Sometimes that means unlocking their hidden potentials."

- Myhanh Truong

Product Development Specialist, 3M Home Care

agave fibres used in 3M innovations

Greener Cleaners

3M scientist Myhanh Truong was part of a team in the U.S. looking at manufacturing 3M products with new, more environmentally sustainable materials. And in France, another 3M team had just pioneered a way to turn agave fibre, called a bagasse, into a non-flammable, non-woven material (one of 3M’s core technologies).

Could it be adapted for use in a new kind of sponge?

agave fibres
“We had been looking out for new sources of natural plant fibres for use in our cleaning products.”

- Myhanh Truong

Core 3M Technology

agave fibres 2

Scrubbing with Agave

Agave might be great at scrubbing, but it took a lot of work to adapt the material to manufacturing processes. Through prototyping various manufacturing processes, the 3M team learned how best to address flammability and stickiness, inherent challenges of mass-producing scrubbing fibres with the material.

paper towels used in place of 1 agave Scotch-Brite sponge, innovative 3M sponge made from agave fibres, hand using Scotch-Brite agave sponge

The Results

The 3M team created scrubbing fibres made of 50% agave, the scouring muscle of a new 100% plant-based-fibre sponge using 23% recycled material. It’s called the Scotch-Brite ® Greener Clean Non-Scratch Scrub Sponge. It helps clean up unused agave even before you bring it home. That’s an innovation that will live on.

Outlasts 30 rolls of paper towel

Scotch-Brite greener clean sponge
hand cleaning spill with sponge