Interview with Tom Szaky: "Loop returns us to a past where garbage did not exist"

TerraCycle pepsico Nestle Unilever Include USA Danone Carrefour Tesco Loop Loblaws
From New York, Tom Szaky dialog & oacute;  with Mundo PMMI and explained  the size that the platform has been charging. Loop is now a reality in nine states in the northeastern United States, Washington, and plans to grow more in that country, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom and Japan. In less than a year of operation, Loop , a circular purchasing platform for consumer products designed not to generate packaging waste - developed by Tom Szaky and his team - has had an undeniable receptivity on the part of several brand-owned companies and retail chains around the world; and it is increasingly welcomed and used by final consumers, who see it as an efficient way to contribute to the mitigation of the environmental impact of waste. (More about Loop in this article from Mundo PMMI). From New York, Tom Szaky spoke with Mundo PMMI and explained the dimension that the platform has been charging. He also referred to the challenges and priorities that have been established for its consolidation and strengthening in different countries and regions of the world, and its future in other regions of the globe. PMMI World: Some define Loop as one of the most disruptive advances in Circular Economy and packaging to date. What is the balance after these eight months after its launch and has it been proven whether our society is ready for Loop? Tom Szaky: Loop is an engine for producers to create reusable versions of their products and for retail chains to integrate those offers, both physically, in stores, and in their online sales. There are many ways to assess the success of Loop and one of them is the number of people who are joining the initiative, that is, how large this ecosystem is becoming. And I must say that since we opened we are adding a brand every two business days; The number of new revenues is astronomical, it grows very quickly with some medium-sized brands and startups , but also with many large companies. The same goes for retail companies, we are receiving a retail firm every three weeks. In fact, in March of this year we will be going out with Tesco in the United Kingdom, with the Loblaws food and pharmacy chain in Canada in June, in Japan in November, and also in Germany. Australia is also on its way. Another way to measure the success of Loop is the availability to consumers. I am very pleased to say that this year, both in the United States and in France, you can see the products in the physical stores of retailers and they will be able to return the containers to the store, which is very important to be able to take the model to great scale. Additionally, retail chains such as Carrefour are inserting Loop products into their e-commerce pages, and the cost will be associated with shipping and collection. This brings great operational challenges and is the result of trials conducted during 2019. In general, what we have seen is that consumers are responding very well to the Loop model, and this is the reason we will continue to grow. In summary, today we have around 200 brands and we are adding a brand every two days, we also have about 50 retailers and we are adding one every three weeks. PMMI World: What is Loop's biggest challenge today?  Tom Szaky: Our biggest challenge and priority is to make Loop feel as “disposable” as possible, that is to say that the consumer lives the experience of feeling like on a platform exactly the same as what he experiences when he consumes a disposable product. One of the things that people have told us in the first presentations, and one of the main challenges, is that they would like to see more and more Loop products available in the market. In the beginning the products were only obtained online and the user bought them by this means; Now, through the retail chains, it is possible to find the products in the stores, which allows the buyer to acquire both the Loop products and the others that he usually buys. This is why it is important that the product feels disposable but works towards the consumer as reusable. This is what leads us to focus on the disposable experience, because that is what the user is looking for. Loop is a circular purchase platform for mass consumption products designed not to generate packaging waste, developed by Tom Szaky and his team.   Loop is a circular buying platform for mass consumption products designed not to generate packaging waste, developed by Tom Szaky and his team.   PMMI World: The difference between the generation of millennials and the most senior generates an impact? Is it possible that it is easier to convince a millennial to buy through Loop than a Baby Boomer?   Tom Szaky: It's an interesting approach, but I don't share it. I think millennials join an initiative like Loop because they are tired of garbage; They have lived their entire lives using disposables and want to get out of that and do something different. But, in the case of a Baby Boomers or the parents of a millennial , the experience is very familiar, since that way the purchases worked before. Loop returns them to their childhood where there was no garbage, this is why an interest is generated for them, and for these reasons arouses emotion in both generations. PMMI World: What is Loop's biggest opportunity today? Tom Szaky: The main focus is to attract a large number of fast-moving consumer products and many retail chains that sell their products on the platform. Secondly, it is reaching fast food restaurants, and then there would be the clothing sector. PMMI World: How is Loop attracting fast food companies? Tom Szaky: We are now working with one of the largest fast food brands in the world, developing a type of reusable potato chip packaging, so that when ordering the customer can choose the reusable option and get an aesthetically pleasing packaging , beautiful, that works under the same method. PMMI World: What has been the main reason why TerraCycle has managed to convince big brands like Nestlé, Unilever, Pepsico, Danone - to name a few - to join and be part of Loop? Tom Szaky: I think that basically there have been two factors, which occurred simultaneously: the moment and the immense capacity that Loop offers to innovate and turn products into something exciting, with aesthetically beautiful packaging, that work. Those two factors together have been tremendously important for the development we are seeing today for Loop. PMMI World: What could you say about the innovations that Loop has encouraged in the design of reusable packaging?   Tom Szaky: I think consumers want to have the feeling and experience of disposable. The important thing about returning ownership of the container to the manufacturing company is that it becomes an asset, and being an asset manufacturers can make more significant investments in it. Loop gave brands and their designers the ability to achieve in the packaging aspects that they had always wanted to do and that the system had not allowed them basically due to cost factors. PMMI World: What is the power of the packaging reusability model? Tom Szaky: Reusability is an idea that everyone understands; Children today understand packaging more than its contents, they know that garbage is wrong and that recycling is fine, although they cannot explain anything about palm oil, or climate change. PMMI World: How was the task of convincing the consumer that reusability is possible? Tom Szaky: I think showing them that it works; Initially the consumer doubts, and once they see it in operation, everyone believes: none of this is new, this is how it was done around the 1930s. It is not impossible to sell this concept, it is simply to refresh an old idea. PMMI World: Could you mention any statistics that reflect the impact of the reusability model on packaging in terms of carbon footprint reduction? Tom Szaky: This depends on the packaging, of course. Statistically, around the first three years, the impact is equal to that of the disposable model. In the first use, the reuse is worse than in the case of the disposable; at all three uses it is the same; at five uses it is 15% better than waste; and in the tenth use it is 75% better. These are statistics of our allies and Loop, which we have also obtained through life cycle analysis, LCA. PMMI World: Infrastructure has been a very important challenge for you. Tom Szaky: Yes it has been a great challenge, but not the greatest. We are now present in France, in the United States, we are going to inaugurate Loop in the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and Germany this year. We have very good infrastructure partners and with very good capital, so this has been a setback, but it is not an issue that cannot be overcome. PMMI World: What is the next step in the global expansion of Loop? Do you contemplate the possibility of being in Latin America soon? Tom Szaky: We are looking to enter Latin America, in Brazil we have been with TerraCycle for many years and we believe that by 2021 we will be there, with the Loop model. PMMI World: Having a reusable product means that it has an important value that exceeds the value of disposables, if the brands gave a value to the single-use container, do you think this would promote collection and recycling? Tom Szaky: Yes, definitely. The more value a single-use container is given, the greater its recyclability. PMMI World: TerraCycle has been recognized for recycling difficult materials. Do you think that migrating to reusability can affect recyclability? Tom Szaky: TerraCycle is growing very fast, we had an organic growth of 30% this year. The two initiatives are growing and have different roles; I believe that reusability has a projection towards the future and recyclability is more related to what we are doing in the present. The main focus on the production of disposable packaging is to make them as economical as possible, and when the packaging is cheaper the overall cost is reduced and it ends with a more complex packaging in terms of material, as in the case of multilayer. In my opinion that is the biggest problem, that the main objective of the brands, which is to reduce costs, goes in reverse of the recyclability of the packaging. PMMI World: How do you see the future? What is the greatest contribution that could be made to mitigate the impact of waste? Tom Szaky: For us it's about creating more reusable alternatives for the products and making them more available for more retailers to distribute. Our way of calculating success is by measuring how much users migrate from single-use containers to multi-use products and packages. That is our goal in general.