Less than a year in, Terracycle's Loop is already changing the game

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loop Less than a year ago, I told you about Loop, the company launched by Trenton-based Terracycle. Basically, Loop is seeking to completely change the way Americans purchase and use disposable containers. The change is dramatic; if Loop gets its way, all containers will be reusable. Basically, the company is taking the old milkman model and applying to everything, from Haagan Dazs ice cream to Clorox Wipes. Instead of buying those products and throwing away the container when you’re done, Loop sends you the products in branded stainless steel packaging, and when you’re done, you send it back. Zero waste. “We’re stopping and thinking and saying that even if 100 percent of products and packaging were recyclable, and even if 100 percent of products are made from recycled content, is that still the best?” Anthony Rossi, the vice-president of Global Business Development at Loop, told me for the original article. “Two years ago Tom (Szaky, Terracycle founder and CEO) got to thinking and said ‘no, we can’t stop there.’ One, it’s utopian. I don’t think we’ll ever get close to that number, but two the real problem here is disposability. And so we’re attacking disposability by working with partners to reengineer their packaging to be durable and reusable while providing infrastructure to get products to consumers and back.” OK. That was about 10 months ago. Today? “Time” has named Loop one of the 100 best inventions of 2019, 5,000 people are using LoopStore.com to do tons of their shopping, and another 85,000 are on the waiting list to get into Loop’s pilot program. I’d say so far, so … really freaking fantastic. “It’s rethinking trash,” said Donna Liu, a Princeton resident who is a Loop customer. “And it’s easy to use. Honestly, in the beginning, I was a little bit puzzled as to when you order, how do you time it. But it’s much simpler than I thought it would be. You schedule your order online and it comes within a day a two.” Liu said she orders about once a month, with the order including many of the typical grocery store purchases. “Personal care products, shampoo, conditioner, cleaning products, some foods, snacks, dried grains, rice, quinoa, cashews … I just kind of browse their store, look at the things I’d be using anyway, and order it,” Liu said. Granted, Liu admits it is slightly more expensive to order through Loop, but she sees it as a long-term investment that will pay off down the road. “I call it the ‘green margin,’ Liu said. “It’s the cost of not generating more trash, it’s the cost of not adding to the environment’s problems.” And that’s, obviously, the whole reason Loop exists. To create a system in which our purchases don’t add to the problem. And really: Even if you’re a staunch anti-environmentalist, there’s no downside to Loop’s model becoming the dominant force in the industry. And it could certainly happen, and might even happen sooner that anyone dare hope. “At launch, we were in the early phase of the pilot and since May, we have added over 120 products and have doubled our coverage in the United States, adding six new states,” said Eric Rosen, the publicist for Loop/Terracycle. “We have also recently announced committed retail partners in the UK (Tesco), Canada (Loblaws), and Australia (Woolworths). We are also beginning to engage in scale-up conversations with our U.S. retail partners and planning for how we will bring the Loop platform into retailers’ e-commerce platforms and brick-and-mortar stores. And in 2020, you can expect Loop to be available in Canada, the UK, Germany and Japan. And we anticipate being in-store in select locations in the United States.” It would not surprise me one bit if we blinked ourselves to 2030 and saw that Loop has very legitimately changed the way the world’s system of product packaging. Trenton makes, the world reuses.