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Davos 2019: TerraCycle launches reusable and refillable packaging initiative for e-commerce

Davos 2019: TerraCycle launches reusable and refillable packaging initiative for e-commerce 24 Jan 2019 --- Recycling specialist TerraCycle has launched a first-of-its-kind reusable packaging home delivery service in partnership with a host of leading global brands. Taking place today in Davos at the World Economic Forum (WEF), the launch fuses e-commerce and sustainability in a way that a green-minded public has long been calling for. Consumers will be able to use durable, reusable or fully recyclable packaging made from materials such as alloys, glass and engineered plastics. Could this be a step closer to saying goodbye to single-use plastics? Innovation in the booming e-commerce market must, arguably, go further than recyclability. Within the online groceries market alone, growth is occurring at a double-digit rate in the past years. However, the levels of waste in e-commerce packaging remain high, which coupled with extended fuel usage for personal deliveries, makes it a market with sustainability issues. Within the booming industry, only 2 percent of companies use reusable or returnable packaging models, according to Jan Berbee, Partner in the reusable packaging for e-commerce startup, RePack, tells PackagingInsights. https://resource.innovadatabase.com/admin/editor/4499dd5e-0596-467b-9052-54695a1db856ScreenHunter%201266.png Global giant P&G will be introducing reusable and refillable packaging on some of its most popular products. The freshly launched Loop is a global packaging and shopping circular solution which aims to offer an improved environmental performance compared to current e-commerce solutions. The basic premise of the initiative is that consumers will order their product, receive it via shipping then after use it will be picked up at their homes. The products are then cleaned, refilled and either reused or recycled. Available products range from detergent and toothbrushes to ice-cream and peanut butter. The platform will launch in Paris and New York in the spring of 2019. Among the brands taking part are Procter & Gamble (P&G), Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever, Mars Petcare, The Clorox Company, The Body Shop, Coca-Cola European Partners, Mondelēz International, Danone, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Lesieur, BIC, Beiersdorf, RB, People Against Dirty, Nature’s Path, Thousand Fell, Greenhouse, Grilliance, Burlap & Barrel Single Origin Spices, Reinberger Nut Butter, CoZie and Preserve. “As a response to the global challenge in managing waste and the opportunity to improve consumers’ experience, a group of committed global brands, retailers, infrastructure companies, along with the World Economic Forum, have come together to create a new way to more responsibly consume products,” says TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky. “Loop will not just eliminate the idea of packaging waste, but greatly improve the product experience and the convenience in how we shop. Through Loop, consumers can now responsibly consume products in specially designed durable, reusable or fully recyclable packaging made from materials like alloys, glass and engineered plastics. When a consumer returns the packaging, it is refilled, or the content is reused or recycled through groundbreaking technology.” Personal care Global giant P&G will be introducing reusable and refillable packaging on some of its most popular products. An array of the company’s brands, including Pantene, Tide and Oral-B, will be participating.
  • Pantene is introducing a unique bottle made with lightweight, durable aluminum for its shampoo and conditioner.
  • Tide's purclean plant-based laundry detergent will be available in a new durable bottle made from stainless steel with a simple twist-cap and easy pour spout.
  • Cascade has developed a new ultra-durable packaging for Cascade ActionPacs which enable consumers to skip the prewash.
  • Ariel and Febreze are participating with durable, refillable packaging that is also available in stores, testing a new direct-to-consumer refill and reuse model.
  • Oral-B will test circular solutions for both its electric rechargeable and manual toothbrushes.
  • Oral-B CLIC, a new iconic design for manual toothbrushes features a durable handle equipped with a unique mechanism that allows consumers to only exchange the brush head. The Loop platform will recycle used brush heads for both manual and electrical brushes.
  • Pampers and Always will test collecting used hygiene products from consumer homes for further recycling using ground-breaking proprietary technology developed by Fater, a P&G and Angelini Group Joint Venture. The technology turns used absorbent hygiene products into secondary raw materials for higher value applications.
“The time to act is now. We are passionate about harnessing the power of our global reach and the strength of our trusted global brands to scale-up more sustainable solutions. Transformative partnerships are key to achieve this mission as no one can succeed alone,” says Virginie Helias, P&G’s Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer. https://resource.innovadatabase.com/admin/editor/dbcddfb0-0c36-41c0-924c-c50671c35452ScreenHunter%201265.png Among the participating brands is also Nestlé’s Häagen-Dazs. Food and beverage Among the participating brands is also Nestlé’s Häagen-Dazs. With the launch of Loop, Häagen-Dazs is debuting a reusable stainless steel double-walled ice cream container, designed by Nestlé’s global research and development group in Bakersfield, US. The design and transportation will keep the ice cream fresh and cold from the moment the canisters are filled until they are delivered to consumers’ homes, the company report. The canister also ensures that when it is opened, the ice cream melts more quickly at the top than at the bottom of the container. Consumers shopping for Häagen-Dazs on Loop can select from non-dairy options (Chocolate Salted Fudge, Coconut Caramel and Mocha Chocolate Cookie) or from traditional favorites (Vanilla or Strawberry) during the New York City pilot of the program, scheduled to launch in the first half of 2019. At the moment of the launch, no information on the costs of the initiatives on the participating consumer have been shared. A key theme at the World Economic Forum is the adoption of a circular economy over a linear one. The Loop initiative is a clear example of how a rapidly growing market, which will undoubtedly continue to grow as the year continues, can adapt to sustainable calls. It no longer needs to be “business as usual.” By Laxmi Haigh

Loop and big brands boldly reinvent waste-free packaging

Loop represents a seismic shift in product consumption to a circular economy model—for ecommerce and retail—with reusable, luxury packaging at its core.

The new Loop circular shopping platform—unveiled today at the World Economic Forum in Davos—enables consumers to buy their favorite products in durable, not disposable, packaging. Supported by top brand owners such as Nestlé, Coca Cola, Unilever and Procter & Gamble, Loop relies on premium and long-lasting packaging that is designed for multiple reuse before ultimately being recycled. Loop is a business venture of recycling/upcycling and waste management company TerraCycle. Taking an audacious first step in solving what he sees as a global waste crisis that has been growing more than half a century, TerraCycle founder and CEO Tom Szaky recreates the “21st century milkman” by collaborating with more than 20 partners that represent more than 40 brands, global retailers, and package delivery and waste management companies. On top of massive environmental benefits as determined by lifecycle assessments, Loop elevates the consumer’s experience with the brand and its high-end reusable packaging. The shopping platform will launch this spring in two pilot markets—New York and Paris—with additional expansion underway. In an exclusive interview (see video at the top of this page), Szaky… • Tells us how Loop was developed and why; • Identifies the root causes of waste; • Explains how Loop challenges the idea of who “owns” product packaging—from consumer back to the brand; • Outlines the price-value equation for consumers, brands and retailers; and • Shares Loop’s additional growth plans, including expansion in the United Kingdom and Japan. The 43-minute video above showcases several brand’s Loop packages (some throughout, but most starting at 40:31) and also identifies the 20+ partners involved so far. Nestlé is one of the initial partners. Tommy See Tho, packaging manager at the Nestlé Product Technology Center for Ice Cream, has been working on the project from the beginning and designed the Loop packaging for five Haagen-Dazs products: non-dairy options Chocolate Salted Fudge, Coconut Caramel and Mocha Cookie; as well as traditional favorites Vanilla and Strawberry. Why participate in Loop? See Tho explains, “Nestlé is working to reduce its environmental impact in all its business operations, while also finding innovative new ways to connect with and provide great products to consumers. As part of these efforts, Nestlé is proud to join TerraCycle as a founding partner of Loop.” It took packaging specialists from Nestlé’s Product Technology Center for Ice Cream in Bakersfield, CA, one year to revolutionize the Häagen-Dazs pint to bring the brand to the Loop platform with a reusable container. See Tho tells us that the package—etched with the familiar Häagen-Dazs brand tapestry and design—is made of stainless steel and features a twist-off top. The metal canister keeps ice cream cold much longer than traditional paper-based ice cream packaging. “When creating more sustainable packaging, we also wanted to prioritize the consumer experience,” See Tho says. “For example, when opened, the package is designed so ice cream melts more quickly at the top to provide the perfect texture for enjoyment. The container is double-walled which keeps the ice cream cold but also makes the outside of the canister pleasant to hold. The metal lid is easy to open—it juts out so there’s a higher surface area to hold and twist. And, we rounded the corners of the container to make it easy to scoop and enjoy.”   The Häagen-Dazs double-wall stainless steel container keeps ice cream cold for a long time outside the freezer yet is comfortable to hold.   See Tho’s colleague, Walter Peterson, who is packaging sustainability manager at Nestlé USA, will be speaking at WestPack 2019 (Feb. 5-7; Anaheim, CA) at 1:00 - 1:55 p.m. on Tues., Feb. 5. In his presentation “How Nestlé Is Innovating Its Way to 100% Recyclable or Reusable Packaging,” Peterson will talk about Loop and about the company’s ambitious goal of moving to 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025. So how does Loop work? In addition to the high-level interview with Szaky in the video above, multiple people at TerraCycle provide more details about this ground-breaking development.   Have consumers experienced this concept? If so, what was their reaction? TerraCycle: We’ve been running Consumer Insight Testing over the last year (12 months in Greater NYC and six months in Greater Paris). The majority of consumers who have tested Loop like the platform and name three major hooks in varying orders: convenience, premium products and no waste.   Which brands are participating? TerraCycle: These are the initial partners. However, partners are continually being added. Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever, Mars Petcare, The Clorox Co., The Body Shop, Coca-Cola European Partners, Mondelēz Intl., Danone, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Pladis, Lesieur, BIC, Beiersdorf, People Against Dirty, Nature’s Path, Thousand Fell, Greenhouse, Grilliance, Burlap & Barrel Single Origin Spices, Cozie and Preserve; retailer Carrefour; primary logistics and transportation company UPS and sustainable resource management company Suez.   Procter & Gamble has created reusable, refillable packaging for 11 of its most popular products as part of a new effort that aims to change the world’s reliance on single-use packaging and disposable waste. (Photo: Business Wire)   How can other brands get involved? TerraCycle: Loop participants must apply and be accepted into the platform. Brands interested in getting involved are welcome to contact the Loop Business Development team. Please email Anthony.Rossi@TerraCycle.com.   Are there product categories better or less suited to participating in Loop and why? TerraCycle: Any product category can be integrated into Loop. Currently Loop operations are flexible enough to handle ambient, chilled and frozen supply chains, as well as [temperature-]control items.   You say some packaging is being “scientifically” designed. Explain more, please. TerraCycle: For example, Nestlé partnered with TerraCycle to create brand-new packaging for its Haagen-Dazs brand that will keep ice cream frozen without the use of conventional refrigeration for an extended period of time—which is essential for doorstep delivery. The Loop Tote is also scientifically designed and, coupled with the Haagen-Dazs package, it enables the ice cream to stay frozen longer.   Who designs the packaging? Does each brand create its own packaging or is there a Loop or third-party design firm involved? TerraCycle: Each brand is responsible for designing its own packaging. Loop acts as a consultant in supporting each brand’s packaging innovation.   Durable graphics on Seventh Generation's soup pumps withstand aggressive cleaning between fills.   How does the package design take into consideration user experience or package functionality, as well as where the product is used or stored? TerraCycle: We encourage each Loop brand to design the most premium, durable, innovative packages to give the consumer the best experience possible.   Do different brands (of shampoo, for example) all use the same style package? How do brands maintain their image/equity/branding? TerraCycle: As of now, there is only one brand per category. Packaging style is up to the brand and Loop encourages them to be innovative and creative.   Are the packages direct-printed or do they have labels? If labels, are they durable, too, or are they easy to remove and reapply? TerraCycle: All packages are intended to be zero waste. Loop advises brands to utilize etching and printing.   Are all the packages rigid or is flexible packaging an option? Are flexible packages durable enough to be cleaned and reused? TerraCycle: All packaging in Loop is durable and all packaging material is agnostic. Brands/partners can use the material of its choosing provided it’s durable. Flexibility doesn’t necessarily equate to bad—that is, silicon is flexible but hyper durable.   How many minimum trips does the packaging have to withstand? How is it determined/tested that the package will, indeed, survive that many uses/reuses? TerraCycle: Packages are designed with durability in mind. The lifespan of each package will vary depending on each. There are variables in lifespan including aesthetics that can cause a package to be taken out of circulation and recycled. Loop partners use materials that can be recycled and turned back into a future pack at end of life.   Can packs at end of life be recycled into other products, following the TerraCycle model? Or does it have to be package-to-package recycling only? TerraCycle: The concept of the model is there is no waste. So, anything generated in the platform has a recycling solution.  Some things will not be package-to-package, but all will be recycled.   Just how durable are these packages? Scuffs and other visual defects could be a deterrent to some consumers in the whole reuse consumption concept. TerraCycle: Durability varies by package and consumers participating in Loop are aware the packaging is reused. It is determined by the brand when the package is taken out of circulation and recycled. The exact number of times is dependent on the specific packaging.   Signal innovated the product, a single dose of toothpaste in a "tab," as well as creating a reusable jar.   If consumers return the package for refilling/reuse once it’s empty, won’t they run out of product? Or is the concept to create a pool of packages that are reused for/by different consumers? For that matter, is the concept to create a pool of packages that are used/reused for/by different brands? TerraCycle: Loop brings to market a new subscription model: subscription based on consumption. Since the empty packages are returned to Loop, we are aware of consumers’ consumption rates and replenish only when they have finished the product. The target for turnaround is two days.   Will Loop use parcel carriers for product distribution or is it all direct delivery by Loop? TerraCycle: In the United States, Loop has partnered with UPS for its delivery.   What about Paris? TerraCycle: In Paris we have a delivery partner, but UPS is not the primary delivery partner.   Will Loop be doing the fulfillment/shipping of these products or will the brands have that responsibility? TerraCycle: All Loop products are stored at the Loop warehouse and sent to the consumer from the Loop warehouse. Loop receives empty packages back from consumers, sorts them, cleans them and returns the clean packages to the brands to be refilled.   How many Loop facilities are there and where are they located? TerraCycle: There are four Loop facilities: a warehouse in central NJ and a cleaning facility in Eastern PA; and a warehouse in the outskirts of Paris and a cleaning facility in Eastern France.   Who pays for shipping? Anything available like the Amazon Prime example of a membership with free shipping? TerraCycle: The consumer pays for shipping. However, the more product ordered—and the more full each Tote—the less the cost of shipping.   Who will be doing the cleaning and refilling? TerraCycle: All packaging is cleaned by Loop’s proprietary cleaning system.   Was or is there a need for any new type of packaging machinery to handle the cleaning, handling or refilling? TerraCycle: Yes, there was a need to develop new packaging machinery to handle the cleaning. The cleaning system is state-of-the-art and designed specifically for Loop packaging. Loop has designed cleaning processes specifically for Loop products. All packaging is sanitized and adheres to strict brand audits.   PepsiCo's Quaker cereal replaces the typical and often-criticized bag-in-box with a steel canister that is easy to open and pour from—and then can be resealed to keep the product fresh.   For any food or beverage products, how will brands ensure that packages are properly cleaned before refilling? How are they able to guarantee safety? What more can you tell us about the custom cleaning technologies developed by Loop scientists? TerraCycle: Loop’s state-of the-art cleaning systems have been scientifically developed to sanitize each item. The cleaning process was built in response to the stringent quality assurance controls of each of the brand partners. The system is proprietary, so we can’t provide more information. Loop partners with some of the world’s biggest brands and those brands have very stringent standards to which Loop adheres. All packages inside the tote are sealed and must pass strict quality assurance.  There will also be a tamper-evident seal on the Loop Tote to ensure the Loop Tote was not tampered with before opening.   Will this be for any consumer-initiated sales or only for recurring/subscription purchases? TerraCycle: Each product has a one-time purchase and subscription option.   What more can you tell me about the “groundbreaking technology” used for recycling the packaging? TerraCycle: Here are a few examples of some of the items being recycled for the first time through new and innovative technology. • Gillette/Venus Razor Blades: Through Loop, razor blades will be recyclable for the first time in France. • Always Pads: Through Loop, panty liners and pads will be recyclable for the first time in France. • Pampers: Through Loop, used baby diapers will be recyclable for the first time in France. • Oral-B Electric Toothbrush and CLIC Manual Toothbrush: Loop will collect used toothbrush heads and recycle them.

KFC, Walmart Canada Latest to Target Plastic Use Reduction

Plastic is a hot topic in Davos this week and more big-name companies are stepping up commitments to reducing plastic waste -- playing catch-up to other industry leaders.
Fast-food chicken chain KFC said Thursday that all plastic-based, consumer-facing packaging will be recoverable or reusable by 2025. Walmart Canada announced plans on Wednesday that include reducing plastic bag use by 2025 that will take about 1 billion bags out of circulation, and replacing single-use plastic straws with paper alternatives by 2020.
“This commitment represents a public acknowledgment of the obligation we have to address these serious issues” of environmental sustainability, KFC Chief Executive Officer Tony Lowings said in a statement.
Waste from plastic has become a flashpoint with environmentalists and consumers, and companies are reluctant to be seen as falling behind. Oreo maker Mondelez International Inc. and Nestle SA are among food giants that announced similar sustainability goals last year. KFC parent Yum! Brands Inc. previously said it will source all fiber-based packaging from certified or recycled sources by 2020, as a supporting partner of the NextGen Consortium. Starbucks Corp., McDonald’s Corp. and Coca-Cola Co. are also partners.
Walmart Canada, with 411 stores and more than 85,000 employees, announced additional goals, including a 2025 target to have 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging for its own private brand products as part of a global commitment launched by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2018. Thus far, more than 290 companies have signed on for the 2025 date.

‘Aspirational Goal’

    “This is an aspirational goal when you think about it,” said Conrad MacKerron, senior vice president of As You Sow, a nonprofit group focused on shareholder advocacy. Still, publicly committing to such a target helps investors and consumers hold companies accountable, MacKerron said. There are also cities in the U.S. that have made zero-waste commitments, MacKerron said, citing San Francisco as an example.
Nestle SA and PepsiCo Inc. are among some 25 consumer companies taking part in a program announced Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos that provides products in reusable packaging that can be returned for a refund. The “Loop” initiative, which refers to a theoretical circular economy where nothing is wasted, is led by New Jersey-based recycling company Terracycle Inc. KFC also said Thursday it made good on a promise that by the end of last year all chicken purchased would be raised without antibiotics important to human medicine. That initiative got underway in 2017 after pressure from shareholders. Other fast-food chains began phasing out chicken with antibiotics years earlier. Chick-fil-A Inc. began in 2014, Subway eliminated it in 2016 and Taco Bell, also owned by Yum! Brands, reached the goal in 2017. Still, KFC helped tip the chicken industry in an important way, according to Lena Brook, director of food campaigns at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “KFC proved that even in perhaps a more complex reality that change is possible if you commit to it,” Brook said.

TerraCycle promises 'future of consumption' with Loop reuse system

Dozens of major brands have partnered to launch this ambitious new packaging model in the U.S. and France. TerraCycle and Suez break down how it could change the waste equation in the coming decades. After years of quiet planning and rigorous testing, TerraCycle has unveiled what it believes will be a revolutionary change in packaging: Loop. Debuted at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week, the new shopping system is the first of its kind to offer hundreds of name brand products in reusable and refillable packaging. In addition, many products traditionally viewed as inefficient to process — pens, diapers, razor blades — will now be recycled for the first time in many areas. This builds on the New Jersey company's foundational business of finding value in what is considered unrecyclable — but on an entirely new level.
Designed to be more attractive and functional than common versions, these new goods will be available on a pilot basis in the U.S. and France, starting this spring. With the convenience of delivery and pick-up service via online ordering — and eventually at retail stores — Loop is being billed as a rare opportunity to wean consumers off single-use disposability. "The thesis of Loop is we want to bring about the future of consumption, and the tenet of that would be the idea that waste doesn't exist," said TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky in an interview with Waste Dive.  
PepsiCo products for the French market
Credit: Loop

A new consumer culture?

Procter & Gamble and Nestlé (both founding investors) — along with PepsiCo, Unilever, Mars Petcare, The Clorox Company, The Body Shop, Coca-Cola European Partners, Mondelēz International and Danone — are among the initial partners that have designed new packaging for Loop. Achieving this level of participation from the companies behind so many household brands was seen as essential for consumer buy-in. According to Szaky, a key component is elevating the experience of reusable shopping (beyond its current niche version of bringing mason jars and cloth bags to a local bulk store) through added convenience and an element of "luxury." Prices are expected to be comparable to current options aside from a refundable deposit, and many containers are made from glass, stainless steel or durable plastic. Some, such as a new Häagen-Dazs container, will even keep products frozen or fresh for longer. As envisioned, this system will start out as a delivery/pick-up service — something Szaky has previously described as akin to the old "milkman" model. UPS will deliver the products in reusable shipping bags, and once consumers are done, transport the bags to a regional cleaning facility, where containers will be sanitized and products recycled. This is said to be the first time feminine care products and diapers will be recycled in France, and the first time for razor blades in the U.S. "There are some big firsts baked into Loop, and that's really using a lot of TerraCycle's original competency. If it's reasonable to recover and reasonable to reuse, then it must be reused, is the rule," said Szaky.
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The pilot program is expected to launch this spring in the Paris metro area and the New York City area – including parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. French retailer Carrefour has signed on as a partner, and a U.S. retailer is in the works. While the initial list of participating companies have had to make upfront investments in new packaging design (though on a limited scale to start), the ability to meet both consumer demands and sustainability targets is seen as worth the price of admission. A spokesperson for the French unit of Coca-Cola European Partner (CCEP) told Waste Dive it sees a way to expand existing refillable glass bottle sales and "bring this unique experience directly to consumers at home in line with a no waste vision and our sustainability strategy." Loop is considered a clear fit for CCEP's "This Is Forward" plan — part of Coca-Cola's broader "World Without Waste" initiative  to ensure all packaging is recyclable and fully recovered by 2025. Other major partners — including Procter & GambleNestléPepsiCoUnilever and Mondelēz International — have set their own future sustainability targets or made financial commitments to recycling initiatives in recent years. While these pledges have often been met with skepticism from major environmental groups, it's possible this Loop announcement may be perceived differently. Szaky noted that eight of the 10 companies on a 2018 Greenpeace list of the most commonly found brands in ocean clean-ups are Loop partners — a potential signal of their willingness to take more ownership over plastic pollution. Greenpeace itself is also participating in the Davos launch event.  
Preserve reusable dishware and refillable containers for U.S. market
Credit: Loop

A world without "garbage"

Loop might be an easier fit for regulatory trends in European countries that encourage more recycling (though it will be exempt from extended producer responsibility rules), but it could prove a greater shock to the U.S. system if scaled successfully. The most directly affected parties will be packaging manufacturers — glass, for instance, might see more demand, while single-use plastic demand could decline. The potential decrease in tonnage for both waste and recycling collections also raises questions of what Loop will mean for the U.S. waste and recycling industry itself. "I'd say at the very beginning, if I was working over at Republic or Waste Management or even Waste Connections (Waste Connections owns a quarter of our Canadian company) I think they wouldn't even see this as a threat because it would seem super small compared to what is in the dumpster," said Szaky. "The real question is 10, 20, 30 years from now, if durable, reusable, repairable, that type of movement really hits scale — and I think Loop could be one of the vehicles that accomplish that — then you may see an effect on the loads, and unless you get involved in that, then you would see it competitively." Last year, Waste Connections CEO Ron Mittelstaedt told Waste Dive he believes "reuse is the pathway that will help diversion by non-generation" in future decades, although he didn't directly mention TerraCycle. No U.S. waste and recycling industry companies have invested in Loop to date. Suez, the France multinational that has a stake in TerraCycle's European operations, invested 4% in Loop. The company also partnered with Procter & Gamble and TerraCycle to launch a shampoo bottle made of ocean plastic at Davos in 2017. Jean-Marc Boursier, senior executive vice president of recycling and recovery at Suez's Northern Europe division, feels the concept fits into his company's view that increasing waste volumes can't be the primary corporate growth metric. According to Boursier, rising GDP, industrial activity and population growth should all be considered signs of a healthy economy — but that doesn't necessarily have to translate to more waste. "The question is, can we optimize waste production, and do we need to still dump everything into a very large landfill?" said Boursier, referring to the U.S. market. "Or, shall we consider waste as not only a nuisance, but as a product that we could transform into something more valuable?" Boursier declined to offer any direct advice on how U.S. service providers that still derive a significant portion of their revenue from landfills could adapt to such a model. Speaking about companies in general, he offered this outlook: "Either you enter — if you have an industrial company — into this world of circular economy with a negative view, where you believe that it is a constraint and it might have some increased costs at first glance. In which case you will be very reluctant to change the world — and we need to change our way if we are going to protect the planet," he said. "Or you take the lead and you try to differentiate yourself positively." Boursier sees Loop as a way for big brands to do that, adding that while it's too soon to know the full potential, "I believe it can change the world."  
TerraCycle headquarters in Trenton, New Jersey
Credit: TerraCycle

Next steps

After the first two pilots launch this spring, Loop is expected to expand into the London area in late 2019 with retailer Tesco. Toronto, California and Tokyo — in conjunction with the 2020 Summer Olympics — are on tap for next year. According to Bloomberg, the company has invested an estimated $10 million in this concept. Asked how he sees this growing as part of TerraCycle's business, Szaky noted that the timeframe might be long, but the change will be apparent when the company's market share in a given area shifts away recycling disposable products to durable ones. Based on life-cycle assessments, consumers will need to reorder products upward of five times for the environmental effects to even out. Watching how many repeat participants Loop can attract, and at what scale, will be key to tracking its progress. In the meantime, Szaky is also still looking for acquisition opportunities in specialized waste streams — such as the 2018 purchase of light bulb recycler Air Cycle — and remains open to a scenario in which TerraCycle's core business of recycling challenging materials shrinks as Loop grows. When asked if the long-term plan was to still file for an IPO once the company approached $70 million in revenue, Szaky replied: "It absolutely is, and Loop just helps us get there faster."