Soap and Sustainability: a Tour of the Method Plant

May 4, 2016
The San Francisco-based soap company tries out its big ideas at its first plant, located on Chicago's South Side.

Though its products are sold at the likes of Target and Walgreens, Method is a relatively small soap manufacturer. The San Francisco based manufacturer of liquid hand and dish soaps with fragrances like Pink Grapefruit and Lemon Mint does $150-$200 million annually in sales. It was started by a pair of childhood friends who liked to show how “natural” the soap was by drinking it in front of audiences.

Method was one of the founding B Companies—for-profit companies that have a non-profit ethos—and sustainability is integral to the business. A few years ago the company decided building its own plant and locating all production there would reduce its carbon footprint, and set about designing the second LEED platinum plant in the country.

Method considered other sites for the plant, but proximity to a rail line--further reducing its carbon footprint--sold it on Chicago.

The plant, called the Soapbox, opened last year in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood. With two production lines and plans for three more, it currently employs 70 people. Here’s an inside look.

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