On paper, the Bambooi Bio Max sounds like the sort of product we would like to support, but we recommend you proceed with caution if you are considering buying it.
Going by Bambooi’s claims, the Bio Max is the most powerful toothbrush on the market, the most ‘eco-friendly’, and it’s cheaper than the majority of brushes from other brands.
But, at the moment, Bambooi’s marketing messages and terminology are putting us off. It uses several buzzwords and doesn’t divulge enough information to back up the claims it is making.
It’s worth pointing out that using buzzwords in this way isn’t unique to Bambooi, and we’ve been critical of others that have done similar.
We’ve recently published extensive research into eco-friendly dental healthcare and as part of that we’ve published a post on eco-friendly terminology and definitions, to help clarify what specific phrases mean.
We have not yet tested the Bambooi brush, so the following is an analysis of Bambooi’s marketing messages and pre-launch promotion.
Bambooi calls its product ‘the World’s first eco-friendly electric toothbrush’
If we’re going by the dictionary definition of eco-friendly, “not harmful to the environment”, then there is no such thing as an eco-friendly electric toothbrush.
Bambooi is using materials such as sugarcane, cornstarch, castor oil and tapioca in place of petroleum-based plastic. In theory, this could reduce the impact that its brush has on the planet.
However, the materials used to make a product are just one part of the impact an electric toothbrush has.
Therefore, the fact that one electric toothbrush has less impact than another does not make it ‘eco-friendly’.
The term ‘eco-friendly’ is not regulated at present so manufacturers are free to use it as they wish, but from our understanding of the definition, it is an inaccurate way to describe an electric toothbrush.
Bambooi advertises its toothbrush as ‘good for the planet’
As per the above, the fact that Bambooi purportedly has less of an impact on the planet than other brushes does not mean it is ‘good for the planet’, it would simply be less bad than rival products.
Bambooi advertises its brush as ‘100% plant-based’
‘Plant-based’ is another term that is unregulated and used in a variety of contexts.
Perhaps the Bambooi casing and brush heads are ‘plant-based’, but the battery certainly won’t be, it is made from lithium. Therefore to call the product ‘100%’ plant-based’ is inaccurate.
And even plant-based materials are still difficult to dispose of. Take cornstarch PLA as an example. Yes, it is derived from corn and could therefore be called plant-based, but it is still a plastic. It is not as simple as throwing it in a home compost heap, and it requires specialist recycling.
‘The brush heads are made from natural cornstarch’
Bambooi doesn’t provide additional information here so we will go by the understanding we have from similar products.
Usually, when cornstarch is used in place of petroleum based plastic, it takes the form of cornstarch PLA. This is a form of plastic. Theoretically it can be composted in industrial facilities, but at the moment the infrastructure is not in place to make this possible. This means that cornstarch PLA products need to be recycled with specialist facilities such as TerraCycle, or be thrown in the bin.
The upside of using cornstarch PLA rather than petroleum based plastic is that corn is a renewable resource, whereas petroleum isn’t. So by using corn, a finite resource is not being used. But either way, if it is thrown in the bin, the product still ends up in landfill.
At present, the materials Bambooi uses are unproven in terms of durability
It is encouraging to see brands trying to challenge that market with new materials.
Bambooi says it is using several alternatives to petroleum based plastic: sugar cane, tapioca, castor oil and bamboo.
These could well be a way to reduce some of the impact of an electric toothbrush, but at the moment they are unproven. If these materials fail sooner than normal plastic, they could actually increase the impact of an electric toothbrush, i.e. if it needs to be replaced sooner.
Without seeing evidence of quality assurance tests and clinical studies, it’s impossible to say for certain if they are better for the planet. To truly measure the impact of one product compared to another, a life cycle analysis needs to be completed.
Is Bambooi offering to recycle brush heads?
On the product page for the Bio Max, Bambooi mentions a ‘responsible brush head recycling scheme’ but does not go into any further detail.
Its promotional video does say that it will recycle heads for free if they are sent back:
Some manufacturers are starting to offer schemes where a prepaid mailer comes with their product so that it can be returned to them for recycling.
If Bambooi is offering this then great, but it would be nice if the process was made clearer, and whether or not the customer incurs the cost of sending it back.
How powerful is the motor?
The Bio Max product page says the brush offers 62,000 pulses per minute, whereas the promotional video says 50,000 pulses per minute. Which one is it?
The reviews on its website are questionable
At the time of writing, on Bambooi’s website it has 2222 5-star reviews. Conversely, on its TrustPilot page, it has an average rating of 2.1 out of 5.
Many of the reviews embedded on the Bambooi homepage are also unrelated to the Bio Max brush, which is the only product available to buy as far as we can tell.
Perhaps Bambooi’s products and services were once much better, but if Trustpilot reviews are anything to go by there appears to be some discrepancy in the overall rating of this company.
It only comes with a 1 year warranty
Bambooi comes with a 1 year warranty, whereas many other brushes from leading brands come with a 2 year warranty.
Having 1 year less on a warranty gives consumers less protection.
Only having a 1 year warranty isn’t an absolute deal breaker, but do be aware that if buying the Bio Max, you will have 1 year less protection than if you opt for a brush that comes with a 2 year warranty.
To end on a positive note
The above may sound very critical of Bambooi, but our main aim is to give consumers a clear understanding of the messages they are being presented with.
Consumer goods are awash with buzzwords and big promises, so we drill down into the details to help people make the right buying choices.
It is encouraging to see a company like Bambooi trying to challenge the status quo, but to be taken seriously it needs to provide more information on the claims it is making.
Bambooi does at least offer a 90 day money back guarantee. It’s worth noting that at the moment there is little company history to back this up, but if implemented successfully it is a plus point. If it’s offering a recycling scheme for brush heads, that is also a good thing.