“The primary driver of our extraordinary growth is an increasing public appetite to move away from traditional chemical herbicides.”
There has been a significant amount of press coverage recently of the possible risks associated with the widely used herbicide “glyphosate”, or Roundup as it is commonly known. While this scrutiny continues, new players are entering the market with herbicide-free alternatives. One such player is the UK-based startup Weedingtech. In this short interview, we hear from CEO Leo de Montaignac on the growing interest in alternatives to traditional herbicides. Tim Nixon, Managing Editor, Thomson Reuters Sustainability.
Tim: When did you start Weedingtech, and how fast is it growing?
Leo: We incorporated Weedingtech in Spring 2011. Since we started trading in 2015 we’ve achieved 100% year-on-year growth. This year we are looking to nearly double our turnover again.
Tim: What is the primary driver of that growth?
Leo: The primary driver of our extraordinary growth is an increasing public appetite to move away from traditional chemical herbicides. Our solution, called Foamstream, is made from natural and sustainable plant oils and sugars derived from potatoes, maize, wheat and rapeseed oil. All materials used in the manufacturing process are non-GM and from sustainable sources. Although we use less than 0.001% palm oil in Foamstream, it is certified as sustainable through the GreenPalm programme run by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
We also have a palm-free version of Foamstream, Foamstream Plus, which is olive oil based. Read our environmental policy here.
Tim: Who are your customers?
Leo: Our customers are typically municipalities and organizations responsible for looking after large areas of land and parks like councils, schools, utility companies and contracting companies. Examples in North America include Central Park in NYC and the City of Toronto. In Europe they include the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and the the City of Munich. We have distributors across Western Europe, on the east and west coasts of the United States, and in New Zealand.
Tim: Does Foamstream work as well as herbicide?
Leo: Yes. Foamstream is a leading herbicide-free method for killing weeds, moss and algae. When it comes to treatment cycles and overall efficacy, is the closest thing to herbicide. In the case of moss, we believe that it is more effective. It is the result of a long journey towards developing a state-of-the-art system which kills weeds using our patented Foamstream process which is a precise combination of near boiling water and our biodegradable foam (the Foamstream itself).
Tim: Will consumers gain access to the technology at some point soon?
Leo: Yes. We believe there is a significant market for a domestic product and our research shows that many consumers would love to go herbicide-free in their own homes and gardens. We hope to be involved in releasing a consumer product within 5 years.
Tim: Is there competition?
Leo: Yes. Our main herbicide-free competitors supply other thermal systems like hot water. But glyphosate remains our main competition in the market today.
Tim: What has you most excited about the future of your business?
Leo: The opportunity to make the world a better place and to build a dynamic global company, helping make the world greener, cleaner and safer.