Posts with term Danone X

Brand interest in reuse rising, but it still accounts for less than 2% of plastic packaging market

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation's latest progress report on where consumer goods companies stand on the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment shows substantial work ahead. While this year’s Global Commitment 2020 Progress Report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation reveals rising interest in companies moving from single-use packaging toward reuse models, this approach is still a small part of circular economy initiatives. The goal of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment update, now in its second year, is to assess how the 118 companies and 17 governments that have made pledges to to reduce waste from plastic packaging by 2025 are faring on their targets. Consumer brands that have signed onto the project include large brands that collectively make up 20% of the plastic packaging market. While some key indicators in the report saw progress made in the 2018-2019 timeframe, notably in the increased use of recycled content, it was clear that not all areas (and not all companies) are progressing in tandem. For the category of reuse, 56% of signatories in the production, packaged goods and retail sectors reported that implementation of reuse pilots was either underway or soon to come. This was up 43% from the previous reporting year. Yet despite this growing interest, the report indicated the share of reusable packaging “has not increased from the prior year,” making up just 1.9% of the market by weight. The remaining 98.1% of the market was single-use products. It also stated the reusable packaging in play is “primarily driven by a few companies who derive significant revenues from reuse models.” And while over half of signatories have reuse models in place, many of them are largely limited to just a few product lines in the categories of non-alcoholic beverages, cleaning products, cosmetics and personal care. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation did not respond to a request for comment on the report's findings. The apparent lack of progress may be in part explained by the length of time it takes to develop reuse systems, said Clarissa Morawski, CEO of the circular economy nonprofit Reloop. “The entire development of a reuse system for packaging requires careful planning, design, digitalization, setting up effective collection points, financing and securing the assets through back end management… No small feat,” she said. TerraCycle’s Loop program, for example, which develops and services reusable packaging for some of the program’s signatories, previously said research and development on each new product is around 6 to 18 months. But Judith Enck, president of the nonprofit Beyond Plastics said that “unless major retooling is necessary,” successful reusable systems “do not have to take a lot of time.” She cited Oregon's refillable bottle system as a positive example, stating that retailers often just need the right model and that may include some level of industry-wide cooperation. “The major problem is that there are few commitments to reuse, that are well funded and prioritized,” said Enck. “We have a solid waste hierarchy at the federal and state level that starts with waste reduction and reuse. But, in practice, the hierarchy has been turned upside down with most of the money and attention going to the bottom two rungs of the hierarchy: burying and burning of materials.” Large-scale examples of reuse referenced in the report came from pre-existing legacy programs, like Danone S.A.’s use of refillable water jugs, which has been in play since the late '90s. According to a company spokesperson, the program started “to help provide access to safe, quality water in countries [like Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey] where that can be a challenge" and has since become part of its circularity plans. “The refillable jugs offer a 95% reduction in plastic per liter sold and a 60% reduction in CO2 compared to standard bottle [1.5 liters]. We’re learning from these successful models in order to expand them to other countries in the EU.” Danone said 50% of its water is delivered through this program, though its smaller water bottles are still disposable. According to the report, the company is planning to invest 200 million euros in a packaging accelerator to scale up reuse elsewhere in its operations. Another potential hiccup in the road to reuse may be COVID-19’s impacts on the circular economy, which is only briefly mentioned in the report as it covers progress in the year prior to the pandemic. While these impacts are unlikely to eclipse the potential of reuse, sources say they may change the way models manifest and trends play out moving forward. For example, the report highlighted PepsiCo’s "SodaStream Professional" program, which saw 30 SodaStream units placed in workplaces, universities and hospitality partners across the U.S. in 2019. These units dispense flavored still or sparkling waters into workers’ refillable personal containers through a QR code they scan on their smartphones. But according to a PepsiCo spokesperson, many of the places in which SodaStream Professional is used are temporarily closed due to the pandemic. The company said it is working with clients to “determine the best way to introduce SodaStream Professional as part of their reopening plans” and that it is focusing its emphasis on contactless technology to “allow users to customize and pour without having to touch the unit at all.” But others believe a “refill on the go” model — the most popular of the five models identified for reuse, in which users refill their reusable container away from home, like at an in-store dispensing system — is on its way out. Earlier this year, Loop CEO Tom Szaky predicted a shift in this area. “If it's professionally cleaned and filled, the risk on reuse is exactly the same as the risk on single-use, which is also professionally packed,” he said, referring to the advantages of ecommerce refill delivery services, like Loop. Consumers refilling their own containers, he added, "is really where the big question mark is." Currently, the progress report lists “refill from home” as a category with 26 pilots, the fewest on the list. The report indicated that no signatories have lowered their targets in the face of the pandemic, and cited some have upped their pledges to invest in circular economy pilots in recent months. Shortly after the report's release, Colgate Palmolive Company released its 2025 sustainability goals, which include eliminating a third of plastics “as part of the transition to 100% recyclable, reusable, or compostable plastic packaging by 2025.” As more companies set such targets, experts say it's important to remember not all targets are created equal. While some are designed to measure the amount of reduced plastic in the consumer packaging market, others are measuring the ability of corporations to develop pilots that might help them do that. "A lot of companies are pushing circular economy of plastics just as a delay tactic," said Jan Dell, an independent engineer with The Last Beach Cleanup, in reference to societal pressures around plastics reduction. But while pilots may not have immediate effects, they are still an important measuring stick, Morawski said. “These pilots are the R&D, which is part of this long important process. This is a huge shift for this industry,” Morawski said. “The key will be how did they go? What did you learn? And how does this inform the next steps for the larger system implementation?”

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

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.

Has this company solved the recycling crisis?

The next time you reach into your freezer for a pint of Haagen Dazs Amaretto Black Cherry Almond ice cream, or perhaps grab a bottle of Pantene Moisture Renewal shampoo, you might be putting your hands on something unusual in the world of consumer goods — a reusable container.   More than 150 companies have signed up to work with Loop, an innovative alternative to Amazon where the products ± as well as the box they arrive in — are all shipped back to where they came from.   We are talking reusable here, not recyclable. The cold container for ice cream, as well as the shampoo bottle, are made of durable products and designed to be returned, cleaned and reused dozens, if not hundreds of times.   Loop is the brainchild of entrepreneur Tom Szaky, who created TerraCycle as a Princeton drop out to recycle the food waste from the university dining halls into fertilizer — using worms. His company is now worth $20 million, and he’s branching out.   Customers order their products online from a list of name brand items, all delivered via UPS in a sturdy tote. The empties go back into the tote, which UPS takes back to Loop’s New Jersey processing center. They are cleaned and refilled by the suppliers to be shipped out by Loop again. Even though consumers are buying just the contents, the products cost about the same as those sold in single-use containers — in part to offset the cost of the development and manufacturing of the more durable containers, as well as cleaning and refilling.   Although the selection is limited compared to Amazon, there is still an array of well-known staples to fill up the pantry: Hellman’s mayoTropicana orange juiceColgate toothpasteHidden Valley ranch dressingTide detergent, among many others — courtesy of some of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, including Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Danone, Mars Petcare and Mondelēz International.   Currently, Loop has about 25,000 customers in its test markets in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland and Washington, D.C., in the United States, and in Paris, France. But they are in the process of expanding across the United States and internationally, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Japan. Watch how Szaky says he plans to grow his business into a juggernaut. Loop just recently announced it was partnering with Walgreens and Kroger to start offering its products in stores. So you can perhaps pick up that pint of that Amaretto Black Cherry Almond ice cream and return the container the very next day. Some video imagery courtesy of UPS and Loop.

The Future of Packaging: Tackling Plastic’s Plight

The statistics are sobering. Virtually every piece of plastic ever produced still exists and there is more microplastic in the ocean than there are stars in the Milky Way, according to Earth Day Network, Washington, D.C. It is thus little wonder that 100,000 marine creatures die every year from plastic entanglement—and those are the ones that are found, according to Ocean Crusaders, an organization based in Australia that specializes in waterway cleaning. These same creatures consume the plastic, which we humans then consume from our dinner plates, meaning there’s plastic in us too. Containers and packaging constitute 30% of all waste, per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the large amount that isn’t recycled is dumped into landfills or is incinerated, leaving behind noxious air pollution. It’s a compounded problem that continues to mount, with forecasts predicting that the amount of plastic will increase fourfold by 2050. But moves are afoot to change this dire state of affairs. Retailers and consumer packaged goods companies are looking for new ways to provide products that eliminate or vastly reduce packaging, such as proliferating bulk food sections and experimenting with processes that use less plastic. Scientists are also devising ways to make CPG packaging compostable or 100% recyclable while circular systems are being developed in which consumers refill containers for commonly used household items. But to make change happen on a big scale, everyone needs to be on board. Urged on by consumers that are increasingly decrying excessive packaging that is perceived as being wasteful at best, and reckless at worst, many American companies, which are also not happy with the present state of affairs, are looking for solutions to what is becoming a very grave problem of crisis proportions. The solutions are complex and multifold. “When you think about the myriad products, and the ways consumers use them, we need lots of solutions,” says Meghan Stasz, VP of packaging and sustainability for the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), Arlington, Va. Reducing packaging is important not only to minimize the effect it’s having on the world but also to improve public perception. The people who care most about packaging waste are millennials and Gen Zers, who are increasingly the customers of tomorrow. “Packaging has become a hot topic of late because shoppers are becoming more concerned about their impact on the environment, especially younger shoppers,” says Tory Gundelach, VP of retail insights for New York-based consulting agency Kantar. “And more and more, they’re happy to put their dollars behind the companies that align with them.” According to research from Kantar, nearly two-thirds of millennials and Gen Z consumers say they prefer “brands that have a point of view and stand for something.”

The Circular System

The solution to plastic and packaging reduction that’s perhaps gaining the most traction is the system of refillable, reusable containers. Loop—which offers products in reusable glass and steel containers that are delivered to and picked up directly from consumers’ homes—launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a year ago. It has since debuted pilot programs in New York and Paris. Developed by Trenton, N.J.-based TerraCycle, Loop has the backing of CPG giants such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Danone and Nestle, as well as smaller companies such as Nature’s Path. It offers about 100 brands and is constantly adding more, including private label items. “We treat small companies the same as large ones,” says Benjamin Weir, business development manager of North America for TerraCycle. “We help them expand and show them that packaging is a great way to differentiate.” Loop Tote TerraCycle Photograph courtesy of TerraCycle The more brands involved, the greater consumer adoption of Loop is likely to be, he says, because shoppers will be able to meet all their needs at one store—or through one e-commerce site—“and we can capture as much of their basket as possible.” Here’s how Loop works: Customers purchase products through its website, and when the products are depleted, they leave the empty packages on their doorstep for free collection by UPS, a Loop/TerraCycle partner, which returns them to Loop for sanitization and reuse. Each container requires a deposit, which is refunded upon its return or at the end of a subscription. Items that can’t be reused, such as diapers, can be collected for recycling. Retailers are joining the Loop throng too. The Kroger Co. and Walgreens are credited as founding retailers in the U.S. “Our commitment to innovative solutions on our path to Zero Hunger Zero Waste aligns perfectly with Loop’s mission to create a convenient circular packaging platform for consumers,” Jessica Adelman, president of The Kroger Co.’s Zero Hunger Zero Waste Foundation, has been quoted as saying. Being involved with Loop is almost the cost of doing business today, says Virginie Helias, chief sustainability officer of Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble. “Nine of 10 consumers now say they have a more positive image of a company when it supports a social or environmental cause, and half say they make purchase decisions based on a shared belief with the brand,” she says. Procter & Gamble is committed to making huge changes, and it fully backs the Loop system. “The idea of getting rid of disposable packaging and replacing them with beautiful, durable, refillable packaging is a huge idea and we are very committed to make it work,” Helias says. All of the companies involved with Loop are faced with a new and exciting challenge: creating new packaging. This packaging is much more durable, plastic-free and is good-looking enough to sit on any home’s counter.

In—and Out of—the Loop

Companies need to step up and take responsibility, says Darby Hoover, senior resource specialist for the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York: “If you introduce a package, your responsibility has not ended, and it should not be the responsibility of the consumer. [Companies] need to say they’re responsible for packages through the end of their life. That’s what’s powerful about a program like Loop.” Gundelach of Kantar supports a program such as Loop because it takes that responsibility away from the consumer. “It’s more likely to resonate than asking the shopper to do it themselves,” she says. And while this isn’t a perfect solution—she points to the emissions from the pickup vehicles, for example—Gundelach believes it’s a step in the right direction. “To do this on any meaningful scale is extremely complicated and takes the partnership of many different parties, but I think this is a longer-term solution,” she says, adding that companies in the CPG industry will have to reach some agreements that they will use the same sort of process. The losers in the Loop system could be the retailers, who may see sales declines for products that are now delivered by the modern-day “milkman.” But Stasz of GMA doesn’t anticipate that, noting that she “can’t imagine it would have more of an effect than e-commerce.” While the e-commerce model is phase one for Loop, eventually consumers will be able to shop for Loop in the stores of the company’s retail partners. This should start in 2020, Weir says, and is phase two. This program will be implemented through retail partners such as Kroger. It will go live in Kroger and Walgreens at 25 to 50 stores in a condensed geographic area. At these stores, consumers drop their used packaging in a Loop bin and pick up a new product in reusable packaging from the shelf. This would be a pay-as-you-go model vs. the e-commerce program, which offers consumers the option of subscription on demand. Consumers “will be able to shop and act as normal and have the option for durable, reusable packaging,” Weir says. He could well be right. According to GMA, nearly two-thirds (65%) of Americans say they’d be very likely to buy goods in refillable packages.

The Product Line

CPG companies are making their own mark on plastic reduction. Two years ago, Pepsi launched Drinkfinity, a reusable bottle/recyclable pod system for flavored water. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola is making a bottle from recycled marine plastics; Colgate unveiled a new recyclable toothpaste tube; Nestle committed to 100% reusable and recyclable packaging by 2025; and Unilever has vowed a 50% plastic reduction by the same year. London-based Unilever is also going out on many different limbs. In the Philippines, it launched the Hair Refillery, a shopping mall pilot that lets consumers refill bottles from brands such as Dove and Tresemme. In the U.K., Cif cleaning spray is now sold with refill cartridges that consumers put in existing bottles and fill with water. The trigger heads on the original spray bottles are designed to be used thousands of times. And in Chile, Unilever is piloting an app-powered, intelligent dispensing system that uses electric tricycles to deliver laundry detergent to homes. Companies are either reducing the plastic (using less per product), finding a plastic that can be 100% recycled or exploring alternatives, which include bioplastics produced with bacteria, seaweed, corn, mushroom rot, wood pulp and even shrimp shells. However, CPG companies are still facing some backlash because they’re still producing single-use products. “We’re continuing to see a major commitment by the CPG companies to improve their packaging,” says Stasz of GMA. “That means different things to different companies. To packaging design, to new kinds of materials, to delivering products to consumers in new ways and in new formats. From research we did this year, all the largest 25 CPG companies in the world have made public commitments that 100% of their packaging be recyclable or compostable by 2030 and some as soon as by 2025.” Recycling in itself has become a problem. In 2018, China stopped accepting U.S. imports of recyclable materials, and across the U.S., recycling is becoming more expensive. So much so that many towns and municipalities to eliminate curbside recycling programs. This is all the more important because recycling is becoming a big issue: Less than 14% of plastic packaging—the fastest-growing form of packaging—is recycled, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Eighty-seven percent of Americans told GMA they are very concerned about single-use plastics and packaging waste. It’s vital that more emphasis be placed on recycling, says Melissa Craig, senior manager of packaging sustainability for Unilever North America, Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Unilever’s new packaging is designed with PCR (post-consumer resin), but in order to have sufficient PCR, “we need everyone contributing to the circular economy, which means ensuring everyone is recycling. The more we can get consumers to recycle, the greater the supply of PCR for packaging so we can use less virgin plastic.”

At the Store Level

Retailers also play a big part in reducing the amount of plastic packaging waste by taking a stance. Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s announced it had removed nearly 4 million pounds of plastic from its stores last year. This included the introduction of biodegradable bags for flowers and greetings cards, removing excess packaging and switching to recyclable trays for fresh meat. Walmart has committed to incorporate at least 20% PCR content in the packaging of its private label line by 2025. This, the retailer says, will also be 100% recyclable, reusable or industrially compostable. The Bentonville, Ark.-based chain is also encouraging suppliers to eschew all PVC (polyvinyl chloride) by 2020. Minneapolis-based Target will eliminate expanded polystyrene foam packaging from private label products by 2022, and Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco ditched PVC clamshell packaging, which not only can’t be recycled but also releases toxic chemicals into the environment as it degrades. So it’s no surprise that Whole Foods Market is making a difference too. Its changes include switching to smaller bags for produce; replacing hard-plastic rotisserie chicken containers with bags that use about 70% less plastic; eliminating polystyrene/Styrofoam meat trays; and using salad boxes made of 100% commercially compostable material in its prepared foods department.

Away From Home

More is happening abroad. South Africa’s Pick n Pay grocery chain is experimenting with “nude zones,” where consumers fill their own containers with produce laser-etched with codes. Metro in Quebec started allowing customers last spring to fill their own reusable containers with meat, seafood, pastries and ready-to-eat meals, and Ekoplaza in Amsterdam now carries more than 700 products in plastic-free packaging, which looks like plastic but is actually made from all-natural, biodegradable materials. In the U.K., Waitrose has introduced packaging-free aisles; Tesco has asked its suppliers to look into packaging solutions and vows to have only recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025; Iceland is getting rid of plastic packaging for its entire private label line and has also committed, over the next five years, to using recyclable paper versions of food trays to enable it to become plastic-free by 2023; Sainsbury’s is halving its packaging by 2020; and the Co-op says a whopping 80% of its products will be “easy to recycle” by 2020. In Europe, there have been many moves to reduce plastic. Americans are simply less concerned than Europeans, says Neil Saunders, managing director and retail analyst for GlobalData Retail in New York. “Americans have more of an ambivalent attitude toward environmental issues and this results in less pressure on the industry to institute change,” he said. “Regulation is likely more lax in the U.S. than in some parts of Europe, where recycling is now mandatory for householders.”

Bulk Foods Bulk Up

What can make an enormous difference in the amount of packaging waste a store produces is having a bulk department. At Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market, bulk food sections are large and even larger in new and remodeled stores. In some locations, bulk accounts for a massive 30% of a store’s selections. However, as anyone who’s ever used them can attest, refilling containers—particularly liquids—can be time-consuming and messy. Neil Stern, senior partner with McMillanDoolittle, Chicago, thinks bulk sections have their place in stores “where the customer is sufficiently committed, such as stores offering a broad selection of natural/organic products.” However, he says, conventional stores may need to offer more convenience and experience, such as “some sort of concierge service,” where customers would drop off their containers to be refilled and pick them up at the end of their shopping trip. Around the world, packaging-free stores are opening up, aimed at reducing the swathes of plastic and heightening consumers’ awareness of this problem. The trouble is, are these stores catching on yet, or are they just attracting the ultra-eco-conscious? In New York’s Brooklyn, there’s Precycle and in Vancouver, British Columbia, there’s Nada, where customers can use their own containers or buy them. There’s also The Refill Shoppe in Ventura, Calif.; the Filling Station in New York; and Zero Market in Denver, which sells personal care and home products. Lyndsey Manderson, co-founder of Zero Market, is planning to open a second, larger location to sell food.

 The Supply Chain Situation

The picture painted of plastic packaging is not a complimentary one, but plastic does have its place and is used for a reason. It helps preserve food and protect food during its journey to store shelves. The supply chain is responsible for a lot of packaging, says Gundelach of Kantar. “The brands aren’t adding packaging just for fun, but more times than not the packaging is designed for the end shopper [and] how is that product making it through the supply chain.” However, because of geography and distance, U.S. supply chains, especially for perishable products, can be more complex and demanding than those in Europe. “This pushes a lot of companies into using plastic to protect products,” says Saunders of Global Data. “Plastic is also a relatively cheap and lightweight solution, which helps keep distribution costs down, something that’s vital in a low-margin sector where the consumer demands low prices and value for money,” he says. “In Europe, this remains an issue but the more compressed supply chain makes it easier for many operators to look to alternatives.” Susan Selke, director and professor for the School of Packaging at Michigan State University in East Lansing, says there could be problems if packaging is reduced because it could lead to more product waste if the interior goods are damaged. “There are generally more environmental costs associated with that product waste than benefits associated with less packaging,” she says.

Loop CEO: Zero-Waste Shopping Service Continues to Grow

hero It’s been nine months since the startup Loop, brainchild of TerraCycle founder and CEO Tom Szaky, took the world by storm with its zero-waste circular delivery service. If you’re like us at TriplePundit, you’re probably wondering how it is doing as it nears the one-year mark. While the company does not disclose its total number of subscribers, Szaky gave a candid update at last week’s Bloomberg Sustainable Business Summit in New York.

Adding one brand per day

First announced at the World Economic Forum in January, Loop made its initial start with pilots in metro New York and Paris. Ever since, Szaky says, business has been quickly growing. Today, Loop is available in select areas in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland and Washington, D.C. It is in the process of expanding throughout the United States, as well as the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Japan, Szaky said. And with comments such as “When is Loop coming to Illinois….I can’t wait!” sprinkled across Loop’s Instagram account, it seems expansion can’t come soon enough for many. Loop’s value proposition is enabling the consumer “to responsibly consume a variety of commonly used products from leading consumer brands in customized, brand-specific durable packaging delivered in a specially designed reusable shipping tote.” When finished with the product, the packaging is collected, cleaned, refilled and reused. There are no monthly membership fees or subscriptions, although customers do pay a refundable one-time deposit to borrow the reusable container. “Loop will not just eliminate the idea of packaging waste, but greatly improve the product experience and shopping convenience,” Szaky said at the launch. The initial coalition included 28 partners such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, PepsiCo, Mondelez International, Nestlé, Danone and UPS.  Today, the list has grown to 42 partners selling brands such as Häagen-DazsTide, Tropicana and Colgate. Essential to Loop’s success is its ability to offer consumers the same choice they would find in brick-and-mortar retail stores, and the Loop management team knew that quickly scaling up offerings was key. According to Szaky, Loop is now adding approximately one new brand per day. The brands themselves seem to be having fun with new packaging design, such as Procter & Gamble, whose ProPantene shampoo and conditioner containers are emblazoned with “I Reuse….I Love the Oceans.”

Shoppers love ice cream from Loop, but not for the reason expected

While the products do come shipped in reusable Loop containers, critics on social media have pointed out that some of the products that Loop sells—including detergent pods and wipes—contain plastic that is not recyclable. But it turns out that this may not be relevant to the majority of Loop consumers: Only a third of Loop subscribers joined the service based on sustainability concerns, Szaky said; the majority claim to have joined because of the model itself, including its convenience, something that even Szaky found surprising—and, it seems, a little frustrating given his zero-waste zeal. To date, the company says beverages in glass bottles such as Evian and Tropicana have been among the top-selling products among Loop subscribers in France. In the United States, top sellers include Clorox wipes, Cascade dishwasher detergent tabs, Pantene shampoo and Häagen-Dazs ice cream.

A few habits that throw this circular economy model for a loop

Another interesting learning that Szaky shared was that while Loop customers want similar prices for products they would buy in traditional stores, they have not been price sensitive to the deposit fees. “It’s exciting that consumers are willing to temporarily invest in the reusable containers,” he remarked. While temporary, the cost of the containers, in some cases, are not inexpensive. Take two of the top-selling products: The container for Clorox Wipes requires a $10 deposit, while the deposit for the Häagen-Dazs ice cream container is $5. Only time will tell if the model will continue to be successful, especially as more and more companies, from Unilever to Nestlépledge to reduce their use of plastic packaging in the next 10 to 20 years. For now, however, this service seems to be a model in high demand.

Loop – Reuse like the milkman

Disposability was sold as a convenience in the post-war years of the 1950s, but it’s become a plague of plastic and nonrecyclable trash that now pollutes every corner of the world. It’s enough to make one nostalgic for the milkman—that reliable delivery person who not only dropped off milk in convenient glass bottles, but also picked them up again to be refilled and reused. Ah, those were the days… and we may see those days again. Loop—an online “circular shopping platform”—aims to revive the image and model of the milkman on a larger scale, offering customers door-to-door delivery of brand-name grocery store products in durable packaging that Loop will collect and use again. http://www.greenenergyfutures.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Milkman-cropped.jpg

Reusability: Back to the future

“Loop is a very utopian idea,” says Tony Rossi, Loop’s Philadelphia-based vice president of business development. “About three years ago, our CEO challenged us and himself to really solve the idea of waste at its core.” For Loop, this means enabling brands and retailers—the heart of our “take, make, dispose” linear economy—to move away from single-use packaging into durable, multiuse containers. Ultimately, the idea is to spark a wider movement to a circular economy, an economic model based on getting us much use out of the products and resources that are already in circulation, and thereby reducing both consumption and waste. The image of the milkman is a perfect embodiment of the circular economy. “One of the things that we found with the milkman model was that the milk bottle was an asset that was owned by the milk company,” Rossi explained. This made it desirable for the milk company to invest more in its milk bottles, to ensure that they would be long-lasting and durable. Tony Rossi of Loop

From laundry detergent to ice cream

Häagen-Dazs container Häagen-Dazs container Much more than milk, you can buy a grocery list of goods from Loop: tea, laundry detergent, shampoo, even ice cream, all in reusable containers. Loop is working with some of the world’s biggest brands to test this back-to-the-future idea of selling products in reusable containers. The list Rossi gave of some of Loop’s early partners was impressive: Procter and Gamble, Unilever, Nestle, Clorox, Mars, and Danone, to name a few. The containers Loop uses to ship these products aren’t your run-of-the-mill Ziplocs or Tupperware containers. Just as the milkman model would suggest, there is significant investment in high-quality, durably designed containers for Loop’s products. “For me one of the most innovative and kind of jaw-dropping products so far has been the Häagen-Dazs ice cream container,” says Rossi. “It’s double-walled.” Loop’s Häagen-Dazs container is not only designed to have the longest lifespan possible—it is also designed to keep your ice cream deliciously frozen, all the way from the Loop warehouse to your door. But Loop’s containers aren’t just utilitarian; they are also beautifully designed. “There is a counter- or shelf-worthiness to the package, where you as a consumer are proud to put that on your counter,” said Rossi. Loop is trying to make sustainability “irresistible.” Loop how it works

How it works

Loop has no storefront. Instead, customers visit loopstore.com and place an online order, which Loop ships to their door via courier. When they are done with their products, customers can schedule a Loop courier to come pick up the empty containers. Loop has even designed a reusable shipping tote to be used for both delivery and pick-up, thus avoiding the Styrofoam and bubble wrap waste nightmare of most online purchases. Loop works on a deposit system, in which customers pay a deposit on the packaging of the products they order. You would, for instance, be required to pay a five-dollar deposit on your Häagen-Dazs ice cream container on top of the cost of the ice cream itself. Once you return the empty container, however, you would be reimbursed for the amount of the deposit.

Coming soon!

Before you get too excited, note that Loop is currently in its pilot phase, with test markets operating in the eastern United States and in Paris, France. Each test market has 5,000 participating households, but demand is high. There are currently waiting lists in these markets, with people itching to give Loop a try. With so much demand, Loop is working on launching the platform directly through retailers, as well as expanding the platform globally. Loop plans to launch new markets in the western United States, Germany, Japan, and Australia next year. Canada can expect to see Loop in the Greater Toronto Area in fall 2020. Loop featured products A sampling of Loop products in reusable containers.

Better for the environment?

While Loop’s circular economy model does a tremendous job of reducing packaging waste, the shipping and the materials used to make their new, durable containers must still be taken into account. According to Rossi, Loop has done multiple life cycle analyses of the impact of its reuse model as compared to that of single-use models. These analyses take into account eight different environmental factors, including carbon emissions, water usage, and impact on air and water quality—and reuse consistently comes out on top. “On average, it takes about three reuses of that durable package to have the same environmental footprint as three single-use packages,” Rossi explained. If a package is used between three and seven times, it performs 51 per cent better than single-use packaging in terms of environmental impact. If used more than seven times, this improvement increases to 70 per cent.

Waste not! Change is coming

Waste and other environmental issues are all over the news and social media these days, whether it be microplastics, plastic bags, or Greta Thunberg’s climate strikes. For Rossi, this increase in public attention and awareness of the environmental impact of our current lifestyles can mean only one thing: change is coming. “People aren’t content with the way that things are today. And everybody acknowledges the fact that we need to change. And I think that’s a powerful message. And that is forcing the hands of anybody who makes products, or is in business, to think about their environmental footprint.” Indeed, change is desperately needed. As Rossi said, “We realistically can’t fast forward 30 years into the future and continue to behave the way we’re behaving today.” He hopes Loop can play a role in spreading the gospel of the waste-not circular economy. Loop is a company owned and operated by TerraCycle, a social enterprise based in the United States that specializes in collecting and repurposing hard-to-recycle waste and operates in 20 countries. We interviewed Rossi after he presented on Loop at the Recycling Council of Alberta Sea Change conference held in Jasper, Alberta, October 2–4, 2019.

Plastic waste is everywhere in grocery stores. Can they cut down?

Stores like Aldi and Trader Joe’s are trying to decrease excess plastic, but experts say it’s not enough. a woman and child exam plastic-wrapped vegetables in a supermarket Plastic packaging can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s usually deployed to protect food, preserve freshness, and prevent spoilage and waste, which are all good things. At the same time, supermarkets can’t seem to help themselves from overpackaging items to the point of perversion, like a single banana — which already comes in its own Mother Nature-approved wrapper — plated on a Styrofoam tray and shrink-wrapped in even more plastic. Other forms of plastic appear completely gratuitous. Do pasta boxes really need tiny film windows for previewing the noodles? Supermarkets aren’t the only source of packaging waste, but they’re a major contributor. They’re also where most people interact with brands like Nestlé, which sells more than 1 billion products a day, 98 percent of which come in throwaway formats. When the Break Free from Plastic initiative audited more than 187,000 pieces of trash from 42 countries across six continents last October, the names that reared their heads most frequently were Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and — yes — Nestlé. Supermarkets have been promoting recycling as a way out of this morass, but it hasn’t been enough, according to environmentalists, who say that single-use plastic needs to be purged from the get-go. It’s a concept that a growing breed of “zero-waste” grocers are experimenting with, too. “If your bathtub was overflowing, you wouldn’t reach for a mop to clean it up; you would turn it off at the source,” says David Pinsky, an anti-plastics campaigner at Greenpeace. “And that’s what we need to do on plastics.” LESS THAN 14 PERCENT OF THE NEARLY 86 MILLION TONS OF PLASTIC PACKAGING PRODUCED GLOBALLY EACH YEAR IS RECYCLED The fact of the matter is we’re not doing a good enough job of recapturing plastics, which are made from nonrenewable resources such as crude oil and natural gas and contribute to climate change throughout their life cycle. Less than 14 percent of the nearly 86 million tons of plastic packaging produced globally each year is recycled, and of that, only 2 percent goes into high-value applications. The rest is landfilled, incinerated, or buffeted into the environment, where it clogs up the seas, the beaches, and the digestive tracts of sea life. Much of the trouble with recycling plastic is it’s “incredibly finicky,” says Darby Hoover, a senior resource specialist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Different municipalities accept different types of plastic, and the little triangle with the number at the bottom of a plastic container — if you can even find it — refers to the type of resin and not if or how it can be recycled. Sometimes, despite a recycling facility’s best efforts, a plastics stream becomes contaminated, which impairs sellability. But even if a facility does get it right, there isn’t always a market to funnel all the different types of plastic. “What’s been happening with China, in particular, is that it was America’s No. 1 buyer of plastic and paper, but now it’s saying that the stuff we send to them needs a much lower contamination rate, and we can’t do that,” Hoover says. Complicating the matter is complex packaging such as Tetra Pak cartons — the type plant-based milks, soups, and broths come in — and Capri Sun-type juice pouches — which contain different layers of material fused together — are even more difficult to reclaim. “So they’ve got aluminum and different types of plastic, then a bunch of glue that holds it all together,” Hoover says. “It’s very, very hard to separate out all those materials and figure out how to recycle any of them.” THE GLOBAL PLASTIC PACKAGING MARKET IS EXPECTED TO SOAR TO $412 BILLION IN 2024 The problem isn’t going away anytime soon. Plastic packaging is a booming industry with a powerful lobbying presence that can block lawmakers from enacting bans on plastic bags, Styrofoam containers, and other landfill fodder. Fueled by growing demand for flexible and functional food and beverage packaging, the global plastic packaging market is expected to soar from a value of $344 billion today to $412 billion in 2024. We throw away most single-use plastics within minutes of use, yet they can persist in the environment for 1,000 years. “We do need to fundamentally rethink the way that we use plastics,” says Sara Wingstrand, project manager of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative, which has rallied more than 350 businesses, governments, and other organizations, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Unilever, Walmart, and Target, in 2018 to support the elimination of unnecessary plastic packaging and transition the rest to reusable, recyclable, and compostable versions by 2025. “Recycling is a part of the solution, but it’s becoming evident that there is no way that we can recycle our way out of the plastic pollution crisis.” One key hurdle is that supermarkets are often blissfully unaware of how much plastic they’re employing. The material is relatively cheap and it makes up a fraction of a business’s operating expenses, Wingstrand says. And the thing is, you can’t reduce what you haven’t measured. Some supermarkets are trying, though. In South Africa, the supermarket chain Pick and Pay is trialing packaging-free “nude zones,” where customers can bring their own containers for fruits and vegetables that are laser-etched with the supplier code and sell-by date in lieu of plastic stickers. Similar “food in the nude” campaigns are taking place at grocers in New Zealand, which banned single-use plastic bags in July. This past April, Metro, a supermarket chain in Quebec, became Canada’s first major grocer to allow its customers to fill up their own reusable containers with meat, seafood, pastries, and ready-to-eat meals. https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/u-Xqw_V0nRmznEIr5ktTg8u209A=/0x0:7200x5141/1200x0/filters:focal(0x0:7200x5141):no_upscale()/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/19235711/GettyImages_1168981697.jpg Shoppers examine bags of salad at a PriceChopper supermarket. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images The United Kingdom, where a “polluter’s tax” on any single-use packaging that doesn’t contain at least 30 percent recycled materials is poised to debut in April 2022, is also making strides. Its major supermarkets have committed to a UK Plastics Pact to design out “problematic or unnecessary” single-use packaging by 2025. Waitrose is piloting refill stations at select stores for pasta, wine and beer, and detergent, and Sainsbury’s plans to introduce refillable packaging “at scale.” As part of its pledge to use only reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging by 2025, Aldi has banned black plastic trays, which near-infrared sensors at recycling centers have trouble picking out from a sorting belt. Tesco, Britain’s largest supermarket, has convened with its suppliers to examine solutions that may require a design or materials overhaul. It’s even mulling banishing brands that use “excessive or inappropriate” packaging. It should come as no surprise that supermarkets in the US — bolstered by America’s corporate-friendly policies — have lagged behind. “Europe is probably more favorably predisposed to regulation and restrictions,” says Neil Saunders, managing director of retail at GlobalData, an international data-analytics consultancy. (Case in point? The European Union has a roadmap for making all plastic on the European market recyclable by 2030.) “Whereas the US is much more focused on freedoms of companies and individuals, and government is probably a lot more reluctant to legislate on certain things.” “THE [US] GOVERNMENT IS PROBABLY A LOT MORE RELUCTANT TO LEGISLATE ON CERTAIN THINGS” That isn’t to say there has been zero progress. Target is working on ditching expanded polystyrene foam packaging from its own-brand packaging by 2022. Select products in its Everspring line of home essentials are packaged in containers with up to 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic. Costco has eschewed PVC clamshell packaging, which is not recyclable and can leach toxic chemicals when it degrades, for recyclable PET or recycled PET made from water bottles. Straws and Styrofoam meat trays are now verboten at Whole Foods, which is also replacing its hard plastic rotisserie chicken containers with bags that use roughly 70 percent less plastic, a spokesperson says. Walmart, the world’s No.1 brick-and-mortar retailer, aims by 2025 to incorporate at least 20 percent post-consumer recycled content in its own-brand packaging, which will also be 100 percent recyclable, reusable, or industrially compostable. In terms of general merchandise packaging, Walmart says it will work with suppliers to nix PVC by 2020. But a June report by Greenpeace, which rated 20 leading US supermarkets on their efforts to eliminate single-use plastic, found a universal failure to “adequately address the plastic pollution crisis they are contributing to.” In fact, no supermarket scored more than 35 out of a possible 100 points. Even the American iteration of Aldi, which rose to No. 1 for setting out a plastics reduction target and plan, needs to ramp up its ambitions, according to Pinsky. Since 90 percent of the products on its shelves are private label, rather than from name-brand suppliers, Aldi has a bigger say in its packaging decisions. “Aldi’s only committed by 2025 to reduce its plastic footprint by 15 percent,” he says. “So while some supermarkets are starting to take small steps in the right direction, none are acting with the urgency or the ambition that’s needed to truly tackle the plastic pollution crisis.” Transparency, Pinsky says, is a sticking issue. No supermarket, for instance, publicly reports its plastic footprint, which makes it difficult for the public to evaluate progress year over year. Time-bound, comprehensive plans are still few and far between. And some grocers are merely substituting one single-use material for another, as in the case of Trader Joe’s, which drew plaudits earlier this year for plans to strip its stores of 1 million pounds of plastic by removing plastic bags from its checkout counters, switching to compostable produce bags, and replacing Styrofoam trays with recyclable alternatives. But plant-based bioplastics, which stores increasingly favor, can still contribute to microplastic pollution if released into the environment, Pinksy notes, and molded fiberboard could harbor cancer-causing chemicals. “WE NEED TO SHIFT OUR CULTURE BACK TO MORE REUSE SYSTEMS” “It’s clear that recycling or substituting materials is not going to solve this problem; we need to see a focused reduction of plastic production in the first place,” he adds. “We need to shift our culture back to more reuse systems.” One result of the plastics backlash is the idea of the zero-waste supermarket. Brianne Miller, a marine biologist, was so sickened by the swaths of plastic that greeted her in different dive sites around the world — even the remote ones — that she left academia to co-found Nada, a zero-waste grocer that is not only the first of its kind in downtown Vancouver but in all of Canada. At Nada, everything, including fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, cheeses, nut butters, and sauces, is sold loose. Customers can load up their own jars, containers, and drawstring bags, or pick up cleaned and sanitized ones that are available for sale. Depending on what they need, they can pick up a barrel of crackers or just a handful. But customers are just one piece of Nada’s master plan; the store also works with its suppliers to deliver their products free of disposable packaging. “In many instances, suppliers are dropping off products every couple days or every week, so it’s quite easy, for example, to have things like coffee beans dropped off in a reusable Rubbermaid tote,” Miller says. “And then when the next shipment comes in, the container goes back to the supplier, and then it’s refilled and reused again, so we have this circular loop of containers that are coming and going from our store.” Nada sources as close to the store as possible, which helps with the minimalist approach, since products don’t have to be coddled across vast distances. “Instead of shipping cucumbers from across the country, we have the local farm, so that packaging isn’t necessary in the first place,” she says. Zero-waste supermarkets, especially full-service ones like Nada, may seem like an answer to our plastic packaging problem, except they’re still a rarity. In.gredients, an East Austin business that billed itself as America’s first zero-waste grocery store, shuttered permanently in 2018. There is a smattering of others in London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Stockholm, and Hong Kong, but they are largely boutique outfits with narrow aisles and more hipster appeal than options. For the vast majority of people, single-use plastics are still an inescapable aspect of their shopping reality. One other solution is a return to the old “milkman delivery” model of yore. The brainchild of TerraCycle, a New Jersey-based “waste solution development” firm, Loop offers popular products — think Häagen-Dazs ice cream, Hidden Valley ranch dressing, Tropicana orange juice, and Quaker Oats oatmeal — in durable glass and aluminum tubs designed to be returned, cleaned, and refilled. Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and Danone are just some of the marquee names that have thrown in their support. Loop has also roped in a number of retail partners, including Kroger and Walgreens in the United States, Tesco in the United Kingdom, and Carrefour in France. “It’s super important to us to meet consumers where they’re already shopping,” says Heather Crawford, Loop’s vice president of marketing and e-commerce. Unlike with bulk or zero-waste supermarkets, customers don’t have to sling their own containers or wash them, which could help adoption. “People want a better, more sustainable option with less waste, but they’re not always willing to change their behaviors to get there,” she says. “Loop removes all of the friction from the systems that exist in the current zero-waste solution.” Tory Gundelach, vice president of retail insights at the consulting agency Kantar, sees a growing desire from customers for forward-thinking efforts such as Loop. “Younger shoppers, particularly, are becoming more attuned to the effect of their actions on the environment or society as a whole,” she says. “Shoppers increasingly want to see the retailers and brands they engage reflect their own personal values.” Nearly two-thirds of millennials and Gen Z-ers say they prefer “brands that have a point of view and stand for something,” Kantar’s research has found. And therein lies supermarkets’ business proposition. Reducing packaging through resource-efficient design or losing it altogether can save money on raw materials and shipping costs — always a plus for the bottom line — but it can also win over a demographic that is only going to grow into its spending power. “Shoppers are telling us, ‘I’m putting my dollars against the retailers and the brands that feel like they have values that line up with my values,’” Gundelach says. “And to do that, of course, brands and retailers have to put out what their values are that they stand for.”

TerraCycle Adds Loop To Its Circular Economy Repertoire

TerraCycle Adds Loop To Its Circular Economy Repertoire

Older readers may remember the days when the milkman would take away your empty milk bottles and replace them with full ones. CocaCola and hundreds of other products came in reusable containers. Commerce operated on what was known as the circular economy principle — the packaging that protected consumer products got returned to the source, cleaned, and used again and again. Then came plastics, those space age wonders that allowed anything and everything to be packaged in single use containers that were simply discarded. Corporations loved them because they were cheap and relieved them of the burden of collecting all those glass bottles and reusing them. What used to be considered a necessary part of doing business now became somebody else’s problem. As usual when an economic model allows companies to privatize the profits but socialize the costs, profits soared. Society, unfortunately, has not been so lucky. Today, millions of tons of plastics are resting for all eternity in landfills or floating in the world’s oceans. Pictures of plastic waste have been circulating on the internet for the past few years, showing mounds of plastics washed up on beaches on some of the world’s most remote islands. Microplastics have been found in the deepest parts of the ocean an atop the highest mountains. The public is finally recognizing that plastic waste is a huge problem that is getting worse by the day. TerraCycle is a global company that sees a business opportunity in promoting a circular economy. “We have found that nearly everything we touch can be recycled and collect typically non-recyclable items through national, first-of-their-kind recycling platforms,” it says on its website. “Leading companies work with us to take hard-to-recycle materials from our programs, such as ocean plastic, and turn them into new products, and our new Loop platform aims to change the way the world shops with favorite brands in refillable packaging offered with convenience and style.”

Introducing Loop

Loop tote

Credit: Loop

Recently, TerraCycle created a wholly owned subsidiary called Loop. “We envision the future of how we consume as a place where we receive higher quality, better designed products, that we can “throw in a bin” when they are finished with no cleaning, no sorting, and no hassle. But instead of that bin being a trash or recycling bin, it’s a Loop reuse bin, where everything is cleaned and goes around again and again. The future is not just about sustainability, it’s about a better life, where we can access breakthrough sustainability unconsciously.” At the latest World Economic Forum meeting, Loop announced it had formed circular economy partnerships with Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever, Mars, Clorox, Coca-Cola, Mondelēz, and Danone. Customers can order products from a variety of companies that are shipped to them in returnable and reusable containers packed inside a reusable blue Loop container. When the products are consumed, the containers are placed inside a similar Loop container, picked up by UPS or other package delivery service, and returned to the point of origin for re-use. Customers pay a modest service fee of the use of the Loop container. CleanTechnica reader Jessica Feinleib uses the Loop service and can’t say enough good things about it. “This is a great clean tech idea,” she says. Taming the torrent of single use plastic containers is vital to reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. According to an article from EDF on Medium, the International Energy Agency claims in a recent study that the manufacture of plastics will be one of the biggest drivers of an increase in the use of petroleum between now and 2050. In other words, we can all start driving electric cars but oil production — and the carbon emissions from oil — will continue to rise unless we do something about our insatiable appetite for single use plastics. In the final analysis, destroying the world for the sake of convenience is a monumentally dumb idea.  

Brands Ask Consumers For Behavior Change To Reverse The Problem With Plastics

The problem with plastics has reached a tipping point. And whether you're an environmental crusader or just a citizen of the world, the impact on your life is inevitable. As a social impact professional, the consumer behavior implications underlying this movement is one to watch, no matter your impact area of choice. Starbucks strawless lid Starbucks has designed, developed and manufactured a strawless lid, which will become the standard for all iced coffee, tea and espresso beverages CREDIT: STARBUCKS Whether it's California imposing a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at large retail stores, companies like Starbucks pledging to eliminate plastic straws or the commitment of leading companies to “lock up” ocean plastics, companies and consumers alike are starting to feel the pressure to change daily plastic use habits. We all know that consumer behavior change is notoriously tricky to achieve. Several brands are trialing a variety of 'refill and reuse' options around the globe to determine the most feasible ways to help customers become more conscious consumers. A few examples of note: PepsiCo Hydration Station Floor Model 2 PepsiCo Hydration Station Floor Model 2 CREDIT: PRNEWSFOTO/PEPSICO PepsiCo will roll out a new, mobile-enabled hydration platform in select workplaces, universities and hospitality partners as part of their 'Beyond the Bottle' initiative. The platform is made up of three components: a water dispenser, smartphone app and personalized QR code sticker for reusable bottles that allows consumers to set their own hydration goals, track their environmental impact and save preferences like flavors and carbonation levels. Algramo tricycle delivering home products in Chile Unilever is partnering with Algramo in Chile to deliver home care products directly to consumer homes. CREDIT: UNILEVER Unilever is piloting an app-powered, intelligent dispensing system that uses electric tricycles to deliver homecare products to people’s homes in Chile. Shoppers buy reusable containers for laundry and dishwashing detergent, create an online account and then arrange a free visit of an electric tricycle to make a home visit to refill their product containers. When the tricycle arrives, consumers simply dispense the desired amount and pay per weight. Alaska Airlines water bottle Alaska Airlines asks flyers to #FillBeforeYouFly CREDIT: PRNEWSWIRE/ALASKA AIRLINES As part of their effort to reduce in-flight waste, Alaska Airlines is encouraging flyers to #FillBeforeYouFly by bringing their own water bottle and filling it before they board. As an incentive, the airline will plant a tree for every passenger who brings a pre-filled water bottle onto their flight and posts a photo to social media tagging @AlaskaAir with the hashtag #FillBeforeYouFly. Unilever circular stainless steel deodorants Unilever's first deodorants to be circular by design are made from stainless steel and developed to last forever. UNILEVER Global recycling organization TerraCycle unveiled a new "circular shopping platform" called Loop that replaces single-use disposable packaging with durable, reusable packaging on products ranging from ice cream to deodorant. Companies piloting the platform include Procter & Gamble, Unilever, PepsiCo, Mondelez International, Nestlé, Danone, and UPS. Consumers buy online and products are delivered in a reusable tote. Once finished, Loop picks the product container up from their home, replenishes the products and returns the refilled shipping tote back to the consumer’s doorstep. Whether you're involved in environmental issues such as the impact of plastics or not, the trend is clear: consumer behavior change can make a significant impact on a wide variety of causes. The companies and nonprofit organizations that will ultimately earn consumer attention are those that help make these behavior changes a bit easier to adapt by effectively leveraging innovative partnerships and available technologies.