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Bio-Vert: Green to what limit?

Company name
Savons Prolav

Catherine Bedard, Genevieve Grainger and Raymond Paquin


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Bio-Vert: Green to what limit?

Year published 

Last year covered in case 


Based in Canada, Savons Prolav is a small manufacturer of the environmentally-friendly Bio-Vert brand of cleaning products. Brother and sister Yan and Bianka Grand-Maison took over the family business in 2002 and have realigned the products to fit their vision: eco-friendly, effective, and affordable. After an environmental crisis in Quebec in 2007 spurred environmental legislation limiting phosphate use in detergents, Bio-Vert’s sales increased over 500%. However, since then ‘Green’ cleaning products have become more mainstream and competition is increasing from local and national brands.

The traditional differentiation of the Bio-Vert brand as a cost-competitive environmental friendly alternative which performs as well as traditional mainstream brands is fading and a change of strategy is needed. The options include distributing altered (weakened) product formulations for house brands, maintaining the status quo, or innovating towards new products with even stronger environmental characteristics. While tempted by short-term economic benefits, the company seeks an approach that balances its environmental values with long-term economic success.  

Teaching note

  • N/A 

Key Management Reading

  • Ambec, S. & Lanoie, P. (2008). Does it pay to be green? A systematic overview. Academy of Management Perspectives. 45-62
  • Reinhardt, F. (1999). Bringing the Environment Down to Earth. Harvard Business Review. July; 149-157 

    Other Readings

    • Wilson M, Schwarzman M, Malloy T, Fanning E, Sinsheimer P. (2008) Green Chemistry: Cornerstone to a Sustainable California. Special Report to the California Environmental Protection Agency. University of California Centers for Occupational and Environmental Health 
    • Poliakoff, M., & Anastas, P. (2001). A principled stance. Nature, 413(6853), 257. 
    • Hjeresen, D.L., Kirchoff, M.M., Lankley, R.L. (2002) Green Chemistry: Environment, economics and competitiveness. Corporate Environmental Strategy, 9(3). 259-266  
    • Manley, Anastas, Cue. (2008) Frontiers in Green Chemistry: meeting the grand challenges for sustainability in R&D and manufacturing. Journal of cleaner production. 16:743-750  
    • Larson, A. (2006) Illustrating the Financial Benefits of Green Chemistry. Darden Business Publishing. Case #: UVA-ENT-0076

    Audio/Visual Material

    Discussion Questions

    • Which principles of green chemistry are used in the case?
    • How do the principles of green chemistry translate into business benefits?

      Green Chemistry Principle

      • Principle 4 Designing Safer Chemicals
      • Principle 10 Design for Degradation

      Soaps and Detergents 

      Teaching Topic
      Business-Government relations
      Corporate citizenship
      Environmental Issues
      Private/Non-profit relationships
      Social marketing

      Management Discipline
      Business, Government and Society

      Business Logic
      Differentiating Products
      Managing Competitors 

      Environmental Issue
      Water Pollution

      North America

      Self Identified as Green Chemistry?

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