Alora Baby aims to push baby gear away from the ‘landfill economy’

Fast consumption and waste generation run rampant in all industries, but it’s particularly true around baby equipment. Tiny humans get big fast, and parents might be nervous to buy used items (“Is that high chair really sanitized?”) and are often too stressed out to think about what to do with the equipment the little tyke has grown out of. Enter Alora Baby, which is trying to shift the narrative toward a greener and more sustainable option for manufacturing — and recycling — baby products. The company is starting with bedside cribs. 

Alora Baby, backed by government grants, aims to introduce revolutionary changes to baby equipment, moving away from the norm that sees products designed for a single lifespan. The team is choosing to bootstrap, pushing to prove the concept before considering larger investment rounds. The goal is to lower business risk and get a clear bead on the company’s long-term viability.

“We are stuck in this system, which I call the landfill economy, which is basically where stuff just gets crappier: Materials are more expensive, labor is less and less exploitative (thankfully!), but we don’t have the fuel for this machine anymore,” said Angus Whiston, Alora Baby’s founder, in an interview with TechCrunch. “Where does that lead us? 

Alora Baby's bedside crib
Starting with bedside cribs, Alora Baby wants to bring the circular economy to the kid-stuff-industry in a big way.
Image Credits: Alora Baby

Whiston thinks that the startup’s approach is not inherently deeply rooted in tech but its simplicity lends itself to a potentially larger and more significant prospect further down the road. When the business machine is finally up and running, he says the focus will shift to the generation of IP — specifically, undertaking research projects that would improve margins, resulting in cheaper production at scale and therefore, cheaper products for consumers. 

The biggest change for Alora Baby is almost a philosophical one: What constitutes a “new” product? 

“We instinctively know what a product made of recycled material is. If someone said, ‘Hey this cup is made of recycled materials,’ we know that it’s a new product,” Whiston said. “And if someone says ‘refurbished,’ we know what that means — but also that it’s not a ‘new’ product.”

It turns out that there’s no discrete, clear answer for where the crossover point is. If you recycle aluminum, you would re-smelt it and make “new” aluminum. It is recycled, but it is also new. For Alora Baby, the company “remanufactures” the products, and the founder is eager to explain what that means. 

“At one end of the spectrum, we could recycle all the materials: Take them back down to atoms, virgin materials, or raw materials,” he said. “That’s great for the consumer, psychologically, but it’s also resource intensive.” Whiston says that the other end of the spectrum is just hosing the product off. “If you just clean it, that’s the other end of the spectrum. Our remanufacturing process is a series of industrial processes. It involves the kind of stuff you’d expect: sanding, re-boring and all this stuff. Each individual part effectively gets refinished, so it is genuinely new. It may be a few microns less thick, but it is ‘new’ in a way that most people would agree is ‘new.’ It is more energy intensive, but in this segment, it is worth it.”

Alora Bedside Crib in kitchen Large
Well-designed tech can be “renewed,” according to the founders at Alora Baby.
Image Credits: Alora Baby

The startup focuses on the firmly held belief that better products should be cheaper at scale. Indeed, this scaleable production format, coupled with the shift in consumer behavior toward sustainability, could totally be a venture-fundable initiative.

However, the company isn’t just about manufacturing sustainable baby cribs. It also highlights an important aspect of the circular economy conversation, scrutinizing not just the process involved in the production of goods but also the subsequent fate of these goods, involving various recycling centers and machines.

Fundamentally, Alora Baby is not just aiming to manufacture baby cribs in an environmentally friendly way but is attempting to overhaul the whole life cycle of a product: its production, its use, and its disposal or recycling. It further emphasizes the criticality of consumer behavior change, which, according to the founder, constitutes 80% of the challenge the company faces.

As of now, we are seeing a new breed of companies emerge, challenging norms and pushing boundaries, and this new startup is doing just that. By focusing on a greener approach to baby gear, it aims to have an authentic, practical impact on environmental sustainability and to develop a true, non-green-washing, circular economy.

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