Posts with term Häagen-Dazs X

What it would take for a big box chain like Walmart to go package-free

It's hard to picture now, but one day, something other than coronavirus might change your trip to the grocery store. Imagine entering your nearest chain grocery store to find nuts, pasta, flour, and fresh produce sold exclusively in bulk, with high-tech measuring and distribution methods specific to each product. In the cleaning and houseware aisles, there's laundry detergent, shampoo, and lotion getting dispensed into reusable bottles, which the store will clean upon return. It's not totally impossible. But for now, David Pinsky, a plastics campaigner at Greenpeace, notes that if consumers want package-free options, very few, if any, major retailers provide them. No one wants to get stuck with tons of excess packaging after buying some soap or pasta. Sometimes, though, it just...happens. That's not your fault: Grocery store experts note that most consumers focus on cost and convenience when they set foot in a store, and it's unlikely they look for the items with the least packaging. For consumers focused on cost and convenience, it would certainly be a lot easier to avoid generating packaging waste if that waste just wasn't there in the first place. That's where package-free efforts come in. Getting major grocery stores to go entirely package-free is likely a pipe dream, according to grocery store experts, plastics and waste experts, and small, package-free store owners. In all likelihood, big chains probably won't ever get there. But a radical overhaul to the way packaging is made, used, and dealt with in big chain stores? That's more possible — and likely a better goal.

What package-free efforts mean for our plastic addiction 

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that containers and packaging alone, which includes food-related containers, comprise over 23 percent of the materials going into landfills in the U.S. That's a problem because the plastic packaging waste from retailers, particularly single-use plastics that are sometimes used for just seconds by a consumer, can last for lifetimes in the environment, says Pinsky. Plastic pollution is already known to devastatingly harm our oceans and wildlife. A 2019 study from the Center for International Environmental Law also found that greenhouse gas emissions currently produced when making and managing plastic threaten the global community's ability to keep temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, and that the threat will become worse if plastic production grows as planned until 2050.  Grocery retailers could be part of the solution by moving away from single-use plastics, though. Part of the trouble right now is that supermarkets typically don't release data about their plastic footprint, Pinsky notes. Because of this, it's difficult to estimate the impact of going package-free at a given chain. Instead, by focusing on recycling to address plastic pollution, Pinsky notes that retailers "often feed into the industry narrative that individual responsibility will solve the problem; that the customer is to blame for the pollution crisis." A 2019 Greenpeace report, which Pinsky co-authored, evaluated the overall plastic footprints of big U.S. retailers, including Costco, Walmart, and Trader Joe's. Greenpeace did so based on each company's policies around mitigating their plastic footprint, actual reduction, and transparency concerning single-use plastic. With their metrics, no store scored better than 35 out of a possible 100, a failure in his book. While we don't know every store's plastic footprint since complete plastic footprints are not available publicly, we've seen glimpses. While Kroger, Trader Joe's, Costco, and Whole Foods didn't provide Mashable with their plastic footprints when asked, Trader Joe'sCostco, and Whole Foods sent Mashable information about their plastic reduction efforts. Walmart, for its part, says it will release data on its plastic footprint in a forthcoming Environmental, Social & Governance Report for 2020, marking its first year doing so, according to Walmart's press team. When Kroger began phasing out plastic bags in 2019, National Geographic wrote "The company calculated that they handed out about 6 billion plastic bags a year, about six percent of the total number of bags distributed annually across the country. That’s the equivalent of about 32,000 tons of plastic, or enough to fill over 3,000 moving trucks jam packed with bags." It wasn't always this way. Before the advent of the grocery behemoths we see today, how people typically accessed food involved a lot less packaging, says Marc Levinson, an economist and historian who chronicled the changes to retail juggernauts in his book, the Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America. Think of, say, a milkman reusing glass bottles, or a general store selling portions from bulk items. The evolution of how Americans access and eat food is nuanced, long, and, ultimately, fascinating. Grocery aisles packed with ready-made food in disposable packaging marks the current chapter of this saga. It's a story centered on convenience and cost, say Levinson and Jon Steinman, the author of Grocery Story: The Promise of Food Co-ops in the Age of Grocery Giants. In plenty of cases, packaging is necessary to preserve, transport, and sell products, says Darby Hoover, a senior resource specialist for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) focusing on the food system. On the other hand, for lots of products, the packaging just serves marketing purpose, Levinson points out. A cashew in a giant tub is just a cashew, but a cashew in a package with a company's label on it becomes a marketable entity. "A package is a billboard," Levinson says. "From the point of view of sellers, they don't want to go back to the days when products were sold in bulk." In the 19th century, if you were trying to buy, say, molasses, your local grocer would simply pour molasses for you. There was no such thing as "name-brand" molasses.

What small stores are doing, and what big chains can learn 

If you actively seek out items with less packaging, you're probably not going to big chains anyway. You're turning to alternative options that have popped up to meet this desire: package-free stores and delivery services; co-ops offering food in bulk; refillable stations for basics like shampoo and lotion. It's not like a big chain trying to cut down on packaging operates the same way as these stores and services (more on that later) but understanding what has — and hasn't — worked can help illuminate what could. Take the Czech company MIWA, which Pinsky says has features that could be appealing to a big grocer otherwise hesitant to adopt reuse models. MIWA's "smart containers" help automate the weighing of bulk purchases, as well as payment, and provide usage data, which he notes is valuable for retailers since they care about consumer behavior and restocking needs. There are other innovations out there, too. In the realm of grocery deliveries, there's Loop, which offers customers major label products like Häagen-Dazs, Crest, and Tide that arrive in a "Loop Tote." (Customers pay a refundable deposit for each package.) When the reusable containers are empty or in need of a refill, people send them back to Loop in the tote, where they're cleaned and reused. CEO Tom Szaky says Loop solves the negative consequences of throw-away packaging, while "maintaining the virtues of disposability — affordability and convenience." Typically, Szaky says, manufacturers aren't incentivized to care about their packages after they're with the consumer, which leads to a plethora of inexpensive, disposable packaging. Under Loop's system, though, the package for a product becomes an asset to the manufacturer: Szaky says manufacturers want to make packages durable and long-lasting so they can withstand as many reuses as possible. As is, Loop can fill a major need with respect to eliminating packaging in grocery deliveries. (Steinman notes that in June, online grocery sales hit a record of $7.2 billion, with 45.6 million households using online grocery services.) Down the road, Loop also intends to expand its in-grocery store presence worldwide, Szaky says. (A spokesperson says Loop is first scheduled to be in stores in 2021.) Big chains can also innovate after examining the challenges that smaller, package-free stores might encounter. First, not everything can be sold through bulk or refillable methods, even at smaller stores. At Sustain LA, a zero waste company that sells refillable home and beauty products, Leslie VanKeuren Campbell, the company's founder, and her team sell things like dish liquid, body lotion, and mouthwash at refillable stations at farmer's markets, in its store, and through deliveries. She notes that it might be harder for a large chain to have a proprietary, spill-proof dispensing system than it was for her when Sustain LA opened its own brick-and-mortar shop. Even on her own store's scale, finding the right pumps for particular items proved difficult. Sometimes, depending on the consistency of what was being dispensed, pumps could get jammed or take a while to dispense. (To this end, there are particular pumps that work better for, say, shampoo, than other items.) At a small store, this is mainly a minor inconvenience, but for a big chain it could be a major deterrent, VenKeuren Campbell points out. At Sustain LA, if a customer gets frustrated, the staff can quickly help, but at a bigger chain, a dysfunctional pump could lead to a big loss in sales. Then there's the way in which bulk items get converted into refillable or reusable formats. Steinman notes that when his local co-op tried to go package-free, they found that disposing of the containers for bulk laundry liquid being purchased actually carried a bigger environmental impact than what they would have saved by not using individual containers. (VanKeuren Campbell says Sustain LA typically refills bulk containers with vendors, or they donate big drums to animal shelters, or send them back to vendors.) "Beans still get to the store in something," Hoover of the NRDC says. "There's never zero packaging."

What's stopping the package-free revolution?

In large part, Levinson sees the lack of package-free options as a logistics problem: For big chains with massive amounts of traffic each day, even seemingly minuscule decisions can have a rippling impact. "For modern food retailers, logistics is extremely important, and packaging is important to decide those logistics," Levinson says. "There's a concern in shaving every hundredth of a cent possible." For the Walmarts and Whole Foods of the world, it's not quite as simple as scaling up the same practices as smaller companies. They operate on a much bigger scale than mom-and-pop package-free options, Pinsky says similarly. Take bulk items: Bread, coffee, and other dry goods could be sold in bulk in more places, Steinmain notes, in the sense that they can be sold without packaging. Logistical concerns get in the way, though: Levinson points out that cashiers need to weigh bulk items at checkout which slows down the line. It seems minor, he says, but for a big chain that would lead to a loss of sales that few seem willing to give up. "The key stress test is to test these things for scale," Szaky, of Loop, says. "Any extra work; they're not going to be able to do it. It's just not going to be possible." Ultimately, though, Hoover maintains that big chains need to address the root of the waste to really get packaging (and specifically plastic packaging) out of their stores: suppliers. In 2019, the Break Free from Plastic initiative conducted 484 cleanups in 50 countries (and six continents) and identified the brands whose products showed up as litter most often. The audit revealed the same brands had the most plastic waste for a second year in a row: Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and PepsiCo. The Walmarts, Krogers, and Costcos of the world have sway with suppliers. If a grocery chain actually wants to go package-free, Hoover notes it would have to communicate that desire to the suppliers covering their products with (potentially unnecessary) packaging. This is one place in which big chains actually have potential for package-free options in a way that smaller mom-and-pop stores don't: The Walmarts, Krogers, and Costcos of the world have sway with suppliers, Hoover notes. Mashable asked Whole Foods, Walmart, Trader Joe's, Kroger, and Costco about the roadblocks towards package-free options. Kroger, Costco, and Whole Foods declined to comment. Commenting on bulk methods overall, a Trader Joe's spokesperson told Mashable via email that Trader Joe's has evaluated the use of bulk bins in its efforts "to minimize waste and shift to sustainable packaging," but "with the expansion in the number of stores and focus on reducing waste, the use of bulk bins is not a sustainable option for us at this time." That said, the spokesperson maintains "[Trader Joe's is] constantly evaluating options and are committed to making improvements." Trader Joe's didn't comment on other roadblocks. When asked about the potential financial deterrent of slow lines from weighing more bulk items, Walmart had no comment. When asked about mechanical troubles associated with refill stations that might deter a larger chain from implementing them, Ashley Hall, director of strategic initiatives at Walmart, told Mashable via email: "We believe the issues can be addressed and it is a technology to watch." When asked about reducing packaging by communicating a desire for less packaging with suppliers, Hall writes: "Since 2006, Walmart has been encouraging suppliers to reduce packaging in the products we sell," adding that the company distributes a voluntary survey to suppliers about their product packaging. Levinson agrees that these giants can impact what suppliers make, including items with less packaging, but the likelihood of chains doing that out of the goodness of their hearts is slim, in his opinion. "They know what's moving, and what's not moving," Levinson says. "If they decide the 32-ounce [container] isn't moving, they'll tell the supplier. The consumer is calling the shots here." Still, how can you call the shots when you're not able to decide what shots are available in the first place? Without more package-free options, you're stuck picking between a 16-ounce plastic container, or a 32-ounce one.

Where do we go from here?

Grocery store experts say that for some customers and grocers, forgoing certain forms of packaging, or using reusable containers when handling food and hygiene items, sounds perilous amid the spread of coronavirus, leading to resistance to package-free efforts. That concern isn't founded, necessarily — a cohort of 125 virologists, epidemiologists, and health experts recently said consumers can safely use reusable containers during the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides specific advice for preventing the spread of the virus while grocery shopping, adding: "There is no evidence that food or food packaging play a significant role in spreading the virus in the United States." Still, some states, counties, and cities, have rolled back plastic bag bans which went into effect before the pandemic. (Additionally, in the early days of the coronavirus' spread in the U.S., the Plastics Industry Association lobbied the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to declare that bans on single-use plastics presented a public safety risk.) "In a way, we've gone back many decades," Steinman says, in reference to the increased use of single-use plastics in stores during the pandemic. "I'd like to think we'd be able to move past this, and get back on track with package-free shopping." Pinsky sees a decrease in momentum as "largely temporary." If there's one thing the pandemic quickly revealed for people, it's that our sense of "normal" is hardly static. There have been massive overhauls to the ways in which we get basic goods in the past, but where the current moment will take package-free options down the road remains to be seen. It could go many ways: Maybe the plastics industry, reinvigorated by single-use plastic ban reversals amid the pandemic, will continue its stronghold; maybe consumers, now more aware of the systems in which they live, will push back on their limited options for accessible, package-free food. Maybe packaging will be the next lobbying effort in statehouses and city halls across the country, after plastic bags and styrofoam clamshells. "It's really a turning point for the world that we need," Pinsky says, referencing both the Black Lives Matter movement and the pandemic. "We need to rethink the way the world has been operating."

Reusable Container Service Loop Teams With Tesco to Enter U.K.

Loop reusable packaging As virus-wary customers opt for grocery delivery instead of in-store browsing, an eco-friendly startup is offering U.K. shoppers a way to cut down on all that consumer-goods packaging. Loop, a spin-off of New Jersey recycling specialist TerraCycle Inc., is starting a trial with supermarket operator Tesco Plc that lets consumers order products like Heinz ketchup and Nivea shaving balm in containers designed to be returned and refilled over and over again. Shoppers can order the products via a local Loop website, with Loop keeping a small deposit that’s returned when it gets the packaging back for reuse. The U.K. is Loop’s latest market -- it already operates in the U.S. and France, while expansion to Canada, Japan and Australia is coming in this year and early 2021, the company said. Related: The Milkman Model Is Back, This Time for Shampoo and Haagen-Dazs In a phone interview, Loop and TerraCycle founder and Chief Executive Officer Tom Szaky said the company’s sales remain strong amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has roiled the consumer landscape. Tesco CEO Dave Lewis said in a statement that the grocery chain “has a clear ambition to reduce packaging” and the partnership will help it develop new plans using reusable containers. Loop, which has partnered with big companies like Coca-Cola Co. as well as smaller ones, ships customers’ orders in stainless steel, glass or aluminum packaging. When the container is emptied, shoppers can either request pickup of the containers or they can drop them off at 2,500 collection points in the U.K. The jars, canisters and bottles are sorted, professionally cleaned and returned to the manufacturer for a refill. “The professional cleaning means people aren’t afraid” to use the service during the pandemic, Szaky said.  

The pandemic could have ruined this sustainable business. But instead, it's expanding nationwide.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, local governments and big companies quickly changed their tune on reducing single-use plastics. They started prohibiting cloth totes in grocery stores and rejecting reusable coffee mugs at cafes. They embraced disposables once again, seeing them as the safer, more hygienic option.
Maine delayed its plastic bag ban from April 2020 to January of next year. San Francisco in March instructed businesses to bar customers from using their own bags, mugs or other reusable items in order to promote social distancing. Meanwhile, Starbucks (SBUXstopped allowing people to use their own mugs, and McDonald's (MCDdecided to close self-serve soda fountains as it reopens its doors.
For Loop, a shopping service that sells items from Häagen-Dazs ice cream to Tide laundry detergent in reusable packages rather than the single-use containers that normally hold the products, consumer fears around reuse could pose an existential threat. But instead of retreating during the pandemic, the project has reported sudden increases in sales and is about to expand in a big way. Loop, which launched as a pilot last year in the Northeastern US and Paris, is planning to expand to the 48 contiguous states by July 1.

This CEO is on a Mission to Eradicate Single-Use Packaging

When Tom Szaky dropped out of Princeton in 2002 to start a company, TerraCycle, that made fertilizer out of worm poop, a lot of people were skeptical. Why not start a web company like that other guy, Mark Zuckerberg? “They expected a male college student to start a dot-com,” Szaky says. “Garbage and waste management wasn’t nearly as sexy.” But in garbage—or at least the management part of it—Szaky saw a path for change. Over the next 18 years, his company TerraCycle moved well beyond worm poop, taking on some of the toughest recycling challenges—cigarette butts, dirty diapers, used coffee capsules—that no other operation would go near. Szaky is even tackling the problem of plastic pollution in the ocean, 8 million metric tons of which accumulates annually. He’s turned a profit by transforming that trash into shampoo bottles, among other things. To date, TerraCycle has recycled 310 million pounds of plastic from the ocean. Something was still nagging Szaky, though. “Recycling is really important, but it’s not the answer to garbage,” he says. “It’s an answer to the symptom”—the equivalent of, say, taking a Tylenol when you have a headache. Szaky wanted to eliminate the headache in the first place. So last year he launched Loop, a “circular shopping platform” that offers top consumer brands in reusable metal and glass packages. Customers buy a pint of Häagen-Dazs or a bottle of Tropicana OJ and instead of throwing away or even recycling the package when they’re done, they return it to Loop, which cleans, sterilizes and refills it to be resold—resulting in a much smaller environmental footprint. Brands have signed on in droves—55 at latest count—as have some of the country’s largest retailers, including Kroger supermarkets. “People want to change, but there aren’t solutions out there for them—not everyone can be a Brooklyn zero waster,” said Szaky. “The biggest lesson we’ve learned is that you have to meet people where they are.”

3 Reusable Packaging Perspectives from Popular Brands

Executives from The Clorox Co., Nestlé and entrepreneur Soapply share insights into the sustainability and cleanliness of reusable packages for products sold through Loop’s shopping platform, especially in a post-pandemic world. Last year, recycling/upcycling firm TerraCycle launched Loop, a shopping platform for zero-waste-packaging products, with the support of some of the world’s biggest brands (see “Loop and big brands boldly reinvent waste-free packaging.”) Together, the eco-commerce provider and the brands have learned that there is indeed a market of consumers who will by Crest mouthwash, Tide laundry detergent, and myriad other products from Loop’s online store — then return their empty packages to be cleaned, refilled, and reused. Since its early 2019 introduction, Loop’s business has grown from a direct-to-your-doorstep model with regional service to testing of mass-market retail partnerships to imminent national coverage. Retail partners include Kroger and Walgreens in the US market, Canada’s Loblaws, and the U.K.-based Tesco chain. Germany and Japan are on the horizon, too.

Companies will have to get creative to advance sustainability amid crisis

Before COVID-19, people all over the world had been more focused than ever before on the issue of sustainability. Coordinated climate strikes, beginning in the spring of 2019 and continuing through the end of that year, conveyed the growing environmental concerns of global citizens. Employees and customers had increasingly expressed an interest in businesses taking stances and action on sustainability. And consumer data showed rising salesPDF of products with sustainability features.   Fast forward to today: The pandemic has exposed the fragility of the world and heightened people’s appreciation of sustainability. How many of us have appreciated cleaner air and paid more attention to labor conditions, given essential workers’ greater virus exposure? Consumer insights reflect this sensitivity. More than half of respondents to a recent survey conducted by management consulting firm Kearney said that as a result of their COVID-19 experience, they are more likely to buy environmentally friendly products. And unpublished PwC research shows that 75 percent of U.S. consumers surveyed believe companies should maintain changes they’ve made due to COVID-19 that have a positive environmental impact. At the same time, though, the deep economic crisis the virus has caused is making shoppers more price-sensitive and forcing many companies to do whatever it takes to simply stay afloat. Companies, even those with sustainability in their DNA, might put some or all environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives on hold to stem revenue losses. However, early data suggests that prioritizing sustainability could boost financial performance. As of early April, big ESG-focused funds were outperforming the S&P 500 for the year to date. This could reflect investors’ long-term view. Recent research by the Conference Board also highlights how a commitment to sustainability can help companies weather crises and recover faster. Companies will need to be creative and more focused than ever, though, to make their sustainability strategies financially viable, considering reduced corporate income and consumers’ renewed frugality. Long before the pandemic, Unilever’s chief research and development officer, Richard Slater, highlighted companies’ lead role in mainstreaming sustainability when he said in an interview on NPR, “The onus is on us as consumer companies to innovate and come up with solutions that are great for people…[and]…convenient at the right price.”

Evidence that consumers care

A growing number of consumers — along with employees and investors — want to associate with brands whose values they identify with. According to a global consumer survey by the Conference Board, about two-thirds of respondents have bought brands because of their environmental practices, more than half have dropped brands because they don’t provide fair labor conditions, and a significant share have at some point either switched brands or moved away from brands because of the social causes they support. Dichotomy in consumer motivation — between caring about a cause but also about functional features and price — makes pursuing a sustainability agenda complicated. Soon-to-be-published global PwC research shows that consumers think government bears the biggest responsibility for encouraging sustainable behaviors and lifestyles. Those surveyed put themselves in second place, right after the government and ahead of manufacturers/producers, retailers, and other institutions. The survey also found an increase in the number of people making sustainability-conscious decisions year over year. The percentage of survey respondents who avoid plastics when possible rose from 41 percent to 45 percent, and the percentage of those who consciously choose sustainable ways to travel rose from 28 percent to 32 percent. People’s purchasing choices don’t always fall in line with their attitudes about sustainability, but recent purchase data indicates that in some categories, words and actions more or less align. In the U.S., the percentage of overall store sales made up of sustainable consumer packaged goods (CPG) grew from 19.7 percent in 2014 to 22.3 percent in 2017, and is expected to reach 25 percent by 2021. Sales of products with on-package sustainability claims, such as USDA Organic or “no phosphates,” grew almost six times fasterPDF than conventional products from 2013 to 2018 (up 29 percent), accounting for about half of all CPG growth despite the category’s small market share. However, the Conference Board’s global consumer research shows that shoppers have considered sustainable features to be more an appreciated bonus than a core purchase driver. For example, environmental impact ranks only fifth among surveyed consumers’ decision criteria for daily mode of transportation, after speed to destination, cost, convenience, and safety. As Warby Parker cofounder and co-CEO Neil Blumenthal put it in an interview with Inc. magazine, “While customers certainly love the fact that we give back, at the end of the day, it’s not a critical factor in deciding whether to buy a pair of glasses.”

How companies can respond

This dichotomy in consumer motivation — between caring about a cause but also about functional features and price — makes pursuing a sustainability agenda complicated. Yet, doing so can help to differentiate a brand, delight customers, and ultimately create brand and financial value. Those looking to market sustainable offerings should consider the following suggestions. Couple sustainability features with other benefits. Companies can innovate, creating sustainable products and services superior to unsustainable alternatives. For instance, recycling company TerraCycle offers a circular packaging and delivery system called Loop that sends customers products in well-designed containers that can be returned for cleaning and reuse. Many companies, including leading ice cream, shampoo, and mouthwash brands, are part of the program. Consumers have to pay a deposit that’s sometimes double the product price, but people don’t mind. Why? Two-thirds of Loop shoppers indicate that the higher-end aesthetics and functionality of the containers are actually more important to them than the program’s sustainability benefits. For example, Häagen-Dazs’s dual-layered Loop cups keep ice cream frozen but aren’t too cold to hold comfortably, and the containers’ rounded bottom corners makes scooping easier. The fact that the Loop system is eco-friendly is a bonus. Paul Gaudio, global creative director for Adidas, explains the sustainability-as-a-bonus philosophy this way: “I don’t want people to buy it because it’s recyclable. I want people to buy it because it’s awesome. And oh, by the way, it’s recycled.” Minimize the sustainability price premium. Price can deter people from buying sustainable offerings, according to the Conference Board’s research. And in this time of pandemic-induced crisis, with many consumers suffering financial losses, this might be truer than ever. So, achieving cost efficiency is critical to keeping prices low. Companies can do this through innovation and partnerships — including with competitors. For example: Even pre-crisis, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and Colgate-Palmolive were committed to making their discoveries and technologies for recycling plastics accessible to others in the industry. This helps increase the supply of recycled plastics for all participating companies, while saving other businesses needless development costs. Plus, it advances companies’ sustainability goals and addresses consumer interests. Companies can also launch pricing plans that reward repeat purchases of sustainable products or services. Take Adidas’s circular economy service, Infinite Play, which is available in the U.K. and gives people gift cards or loyalty club points in exchange for their used Adidas items. Educate consumers about sustainability features and build trust. Many consumers find it time-consuming to gather information about a brand’s sustainability features — additionally, they don’t trust claims, or they find them confusing. According to the Conference Board’s survey, this lack of understanding is a key barrier to consumers buying sustainable brands, especially when it comes to awareness of fair labor conditions and wages. So, brands need to clearly communicate with their customers in concrete terms, disclosing information such as the amount of packaging saved or how they’ve enhanced certain working conditions. The COVID-19 crisis has inspired companies to do exactly that: It has put employee-related policies and crisis response in the spotlight, so businesses across the board have been communicating frequently with the public about these issues. To strengthen consumer awareness and trust, companies can also seek independent certification and inclusion in app-based directories that provide information about products’ sustainability features. Give sustainable consumption social currency. Like luxury goods, sustainable products often involve premium quality, craftsmanship, storytelling, and significant intangible value. For example, two different in-store experiments, one with fair trade–labeled coffee and another with a socially conscious–labeled Banana Republic women’s suit  — ordinary items, but not the cheapest in their categories — showed that the sustainability labels enhanced demand. Sustainability features also seem to grant emotional benefits, including the satisfaction of consuming more consciously and subtly signaling status. Brands can support, facilitate, and even encourage this status signaling with tools similar to virtuous behavior badges, such as “I voted” stickers, pink ribbons, or fitness trackers. For example, research has shown positive effects on hotel guests’ towel reusage when they can show their “green support” by wearing a pin or hanging a card on their door. All crises offer new opportunities. The current one may be a test for sustainability, but it could also instigate a new level of corporate creativity and innovation along the sustainability value chain.

Reusable packaging in the time of COVID-19

Recyclable, reusable eco friendly bags, package, bottles, cans and storage containers, mesh bag. The novel coronavirus had cases on every continent except Antarctica when it was declared a global pandemic March 11. The crisis was brewing long before, and the United States federal emergency and stay-at-home orders would come after, but it was in that official moment of alarm that consumer behavior, and business’s response to it, changed across the country. Almost immediately, reusables and durable items took a spotlight as potentially undesirable. The socially sanctioned practice of bring-your-own shopping bags and coffee mugs came to a halt and was enforced at retail locations, as did the use of glass and durable tableware in bars and restaurants before dine-in service stopped. Even in states that previously had instituted bans on single-use items such as plastic bags (temporarily lifted with new bans on their reusable counterparts), there has been a swap to disposables, thought to be more sanitary than durable products and packaging intended to be used many times, sometimes by many people. In an evolving age of contagion, we are still only beginning to understand the perception of reusables is that they are vehicles for a virus. But reuse in and of itself isn’t the problem here; it’s the way it’s done.  
Reusable packaging is faced with proving its trustworthiness alongside disposables in a world that is standing six feet apart in the grocery aisle.
Take the dentist. Year-round, people young and old go for routine check-ups and surgeries administered by tools and equipment that come in contact with pathogens and people potentially infected with serious diseases. It’s a practice that often draws blood, and yet, the items are used over and over again, on many folks, and everyone’s OK with it. The reason for this is trust. Despite that most of us will never see it in action, we trust the tools are being sterilized properly. If we didn’t have faith in this, we’d choose another provider or stop going to the dentist. Reusable packaging is faced with proving its trustworthiness alongside disposables in a world that is standing six feet apart in the grocery aisle. Trusting others to be clean and safe on your behalf is a liability that can result in someone getting sued, or sick, which is why many consumers are opting for goods in single-use packaging and some eateries frown upon patrons taking leftovers home in their own containers in "normal times." Disposable packages are painted as sterile, while durables are tainted with suspicion. To be clear, unless explicitly labeled "sterile," single-use is no more safe, as both are potentially exposed to different elements in packing, pallet and transport. They are touched by many people, and the independent organizations setting the standards and monitoring respective microbial limits vary. But trust is a risk, and businesses championing reuse that are able to meet people where they are, COVID-19 notwithstanding, stand to benefit. The sort of systems-thinking that considers the consumer and their values now and beyond this time of uncertainty creates value through a sense of community and meaningful connection that’s both scalable and adaptable. At the start of this pandemic, our new Loop platform was at the center of some of this discourse, the returnable, refillable packaging model a subject of wonder. In a world where consumers are anxious and making purchases with safety, ease and comfort top of mind, could a zero waste, circular shopping platform of returnable glass, metal and plastic containers survive? Now, we can report that our sales for April nearly doubled what we did in March, half of which was spent out of an official emergency. Our bestsellers were refillable Clorox wipes (the "disposable" sheets recyclable through TerraCycle) and Häagen-Dazs ice cream in insulated metal tubs. The Loop service will be available first in the metropolitan areas near New York and Paris.
Media Authorship
All of the essential things people are buying (and bought in frenzy at the start: cleaning supplies; personal care; soap; pasta) are on Loop, and we’ve found consumers are comfortable with the reuse aspect, as the service is conveniently delivered by our logistics provider UPS, offers items in beautiful packages and was contactless prior to the pandemic. Consumers can toss their empties in the Loop Tote with the same ease as throwing an item in the trash, and don’t need to do any cleaning themselves. Unlike the durable coffee cup systems and reusable bags hibernating now, health and safety protocols and industrial cleaning processes are in place in our reuse system. Interestingly, as consumers look for a connection to what they buy and a meaningful way to shop, we are seeing competitors in the coming of COVID-19: the actual, modern-day milkman. Home delivery is important to consumers, as is shopping positively in a retro-style model, so if not for the social impacts, the no-contact and returnable packaging system is appealing. From its initial launch to Paris, France and in 10 states in the Northeastern United States, Loop recently announced its expansion to all 48 contiguous states and is slated to officially go live nationwide this summer, which means more people soon will be able to order. The next phase of the shopping platform, currently all digital commerce, will be to integrate in retail locations, where consumers can return empty containers and shop for refills in-store. We can’t project how or when retail will return to "normal," or what a new normal will look like. But by having met people where they are at home and online and establishing trust in a difficult situation, we anticipate consumers will continue to engage with Loop in a post-social distancing world. Brands and retailers working towards plans for circularity can gain tangible returns even (or especially) now by reaching people through continued investment in their present and future. Putting this on the backburner in a health crisis is short-sighted. With so much to fear today, the opportunity to trust is one that consumers desire, and businesses are in a position to give.
Veronica Rajadnya Writing & Content Manager TerraCycle, Inc.
Office: 609-393-4252 ext. 3702 1 TerraCycle Way Trenton, NJ  08638 USA www.terracycle.com Eliminating the Idea of Waste® Please consider the planet before printing. This email and any attachments thereto may contain private, confidential, and privileged material for the sole use of the intended recipient. Any review, copying, or distribution of this email (or any attachments thereto) by others is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender immediately and permanently delete the original and any copies of this email and any attachments thereto.

CPGs Retool to Get Into the Loop

While there’s no scientific evidence to support this claim, there’s a widely shared consensus that most people eat ice cream directly out of the container. While a seemingly unimportant detail in the production of this popular dessert, for Nestlé, it was one of the most critical considerations as it planned out a new, radical design for its Häagen-Dazs ice cream brand. In January of 2019, Nestlé announced a partnership with TerraCycle, a global recycling organization that was rolling out a first-of-its-kind home delivery service called Loop. TerraCycle, known for its mission to eliminate waste by creating new products from the collection of hard-to-recycle materials, has been around for two decades. Last year, during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, TerraCycle founder Tom Szaky unveiled Loop, a shopping platform that will enable people to consume products in customized, brand-specific, durable packaging that is collected, cleaned, and refilled. As the world shines a spotlight on sustainability initiatives that factor in recycling single-use packaging, Loop takes the eco-friendly, green model to the next level by introducing reusable containers. And some of the biggest food and beverage and consumer package goods (CPG) companies including Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Clorox, Mars, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, and more, were onboard for the pilot program that launched last year. For its part, Nestlé joined Loop as it committed to expanding its global efforts to develop new packaging designs that minimize the impact on the environment, noting that by 2025 the company plans to make 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable. As part of the Loop pilot program, Häagen-Dazs ice cream was delivered in a reusable, stainless-steel, double-walled ice cream container, which keeps product fresh and cold while maintaining the pint at a comfortable temperature for the person eating the ice cream straight from the container. The design also enables the ice cream to melt quicker at the top, and its rounded edges means the last spoonful doesn’t get stuck in the corners of the container. “The package design process was a critical part of the entire Loop process,” said Steve Yeh, a project manager at Häagen-Dazs. “It’s not just about making a reusable container, it’s also about creating a high-touch consumer experience.” According to Yeh, the Häagen-Dazs package went through a total of 15 iterations before it finally launched. “Nestlé committed major resources to design and develop the original package.” The team also worked closely with Loop on developing breakthrough cooling technology for the Loop Tote, which the ice cream container is delivered in via UPS. Terracycle officials admit there is a cost to manufacturing partners committing to Loop—from the investment in new durable packaging to the design of the product to the time spent understanding how to handle new packaging lines and how to scale to meet demand. But the reality today is that sustainability efforts are here to stay. And any new endeavor is going to require an upfront investment. According to a new business intelligence report from PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (and Automation World parent company), packaging sustainability has moved beyond a trend and is now a global shift. Released in March 2020, the report, “Packaging Sustainability: A Changing Landscape,” reveals how sustainable packaging initiatives at CPGs are affecting machines, materials, and packaging formats. The report states that the global sustainable packaging market reported that total value of revenue was estimated at $220 billion in 2018 and is predicted to reach $280 billion in 2025, growing at a compound annual growth rate of approximately 6%. The report is based on information collected from 100 sources and 60 interviews. The majority of the CPGs interviewed are looking to switch to lighter weight, recyclable, and sustainable materials to reduce waste. About 36% of the CPGs interviewed are exploring the circular model of reuse/return/refill. The circular economy For decades consumers have been participating in the “throwaway lifestyle,” where single-use products are disposed of resulting in massive amounts of waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the total generation of municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2017 was 267.8 million tons or 4.51 pounds per person per day. Of the MSW generated, more than 94 million tons of MSW were recycled and composted, equivalent to a 35.2% recycling and composting rate. In other words, we don’t have a good track record for recycling. TerraCycle thought there must be another way—which is Loop. “The genesis of Loop is a tighter, closed-loop system that has manufacturers taking back ownership of their packaging,” said Ben Weir, Loops’ business development manager for North America. “It’s bringing about the reusability of packaging in something that is durable and long-lasting and that can be cleaned and used hundreds of times.” It’s not a new concept, but rather a throwback to the milkman model in which consumers returned the glass containers. What’s new is the aesthetic benefits that will drive consumer brand perception—and, while not obvious at first—it is a better economic model for the manufacturer. “The concept of a circular economy is an economic model, not a sustainability framework,” said Tim Debus, president and CEO of the Reusable Packaging Association (RPA). “By decoupling growth from the consumption of finite resources, maintaining product values at their highest, and building market resilience to source material disruptions. It is estimated that the circular economy offers $4.5 trillion of value from new growth and innovation opportunities, and the world today is only 8.6% circular.” There is an enormous opportunity, but manufacturers may hesitate due to the upfront investment related to packaging design and retooling machinery. According to Nestlé’s Yeh, the company used its Bakersfield, Calif., facility to ramp up its production of ice cream in reusable and durable containers for the Loop pilot project. “We decided to retrofit an existing line to support the platform versus investing in a new line. It was not an easy changeover and required some reengineering. Some of the changes involved installing more modern equipment including better code daters and more modern metal detection.” Yeh said they also incorporated improvements to existing processes, which requires additional staff to handle the containers. “Once the platform expands, we would then visit a fully automated system.”
Automating the Loop The Loop circular platform works like this: Consumers buy a product online through the Loop store or at a retail location—Nestlé will offer Loop containers in more than 200 Häagen-Dazs shops across the U.S. this year, and Kroger and Walgreens have partnered with Loop to offer products in retail stores later this year. The customer pays a small, fully refundable one-time deposit to “borrow” the package. The delivery is then scheduled online when the customer checks out and pays for shipping to have the Loop Tote filled with product delivered, via UPS, to the customer’s doorstep. When the containers are empty, the consumer puts it back into the Loop Tote and schedules a pick-up. The containers are sent to a Loop facility to be cleaned using state-of-the art cleaning technology and are then sent back to the manufacturer to be refilled. If a consumer purchases ice cream through the Loop subscription, for example, Nestlé fills the sanitized steel container in its Bakersfield, Calif., facility and ships it back to TerraCycle to fulfill the e-commerce orders. Loop is operating the entire supply chain to ease the burden on partners, Weir said, but right now the circular Loop is a largely manual process. “There is tremendous opportunity for technology advancements to be made whether it is IoT (Internet of Things) or [other] levels of traceability in the system, there is definitely opportunity there,” he said. RPA’s Debus agreed, noting that the ability to put some kind of tracking technology on an individual package could become a vehicle for inventory management (where the product is), predictive analytics (when the container will come back), and monitoring for quality control, traceability, and recall capabilities. A lot of the tracking technology available today, such as RFID tags, are outfitted on large pallets or containers used in transporting products, but there are new offerings available now that provide real-time visibility of returnable assets without building out an RFID infrastructure. Roambee, for example, provides an “infrastructure-less sensing platform,” called the Honeycomb IoT Application Programming Interface (API) Platform, that uses Bluetooth, a cellular network, or ultra-low power radios to send data directly to the cloud where it can be analyzed. Of course, it may not make sense to equip every container of Häagen-Dazs with a sensor, and that doesn’t have to happen. “We don’t do 100% tagging, but we do 100% extrapolation of data,” said Vidya Subramanian, Roambee co-founder and vice president of products, noting that it does not have to be a sensor. The tracking method could be as simple as a QR code. “Location helps derive context. If it’s at a cleaning facility you can extrapolate that location to action, like it is available for filling. We take location and assign context to it.” The Honeycomb platform does three things: drive compliance of expected action, drive performance in terms of velocity and movement, and keeps the brand secure—making sure that the product has not been compromised in the chain of custody. Preparing the packaging line Of course, before CPGs can even think about tracking containers, they must first think about switching over lines to accommodate new kinds of packaging—be it durable goods or light-weight materials. According to Rich Carpenter, general manager of product development at Emerson Automation Solutions, three things have to come together to enable trouble-free line changeovers. “The manufacturer has to buy in to modular manufacturing and demand it from their suppliers. The control suppliers have to embrace plug-and-play technology so that when the system arrives on site it can easily plug into whatever automation is there be it PLC [programmable logic controller], SCADA [supervisory control and data acquisition], or DCS [distributed control system]. And the OEM has to make equipment in a way that is more reconfigurable and easier to do product changeovers so as needs change the equipment can adapt to it.”
These things are starting to converge, and, as PMMI’s Packaging Sustainability report points out, there is a real opportunity for machine builders to be proactive now to help manufacturers meet their sustainability packaging goals. Loop is one option for manufacturers trying to make good on sustainability promises. And it seems to be catching on. “We’ve moved from 25 global brands to 150 global brands in a year’s time,” Weir said. “And the idea of an elevated offering is resonating with the consumer.” Manufacturers, too, are thinking about how Loop can be applied upstream, as well. “Working with TerraCycle has challenged our way of thinking across the board,” Nestlé’s Yeh said. “We are currently exploring new avenues to reduce our own single-use packaging across our supply chain. For example, we’re working more closely with our suppliers to receive our ice cream ingredients in reusable containers.”

Reusable CPG Packaging Platform Loop Expands Nationwide

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many high-profile sustainability initiatives have taken a back seat to single-use packaging, with many grocery stores banning reusable bags and Starbucks no longer accepting refillable mugs. Despite this, Loop is going all in on reusable packaging, launching its waste-free CPG delivery platform nationwide through retailers Walgreens and Kroger with heavyweight brand partners including PepsiCo, Nestlé and Unilever. Loop, which launched a pilot last spring in New York and Paris, sells products like Nature’s Path granola and Haagen Dazs ice cream, with products from beverage brands like Chameleon Cold Brew and Tropicana currently in development. It also offers household and personal care items from companies like Procter & Gamble and The Clorox Company. The products are offered in reusable jars and containers delivered to consumers in a reusable tote, and when the containers are empty, consumers pack them up in the tote and schedule a pickup with partner UPS, who sends them to be cleaned and sterilized. If consumers have a subscription (about 30% of Loop users do), returning a container triggers the purchase of a new item to be sent. Non-subscribers put down a small deposit on the container and get it back when it’s returned. “Loop tries as best as it can to emulate the convenience of disposability to make it feel like a disposable system,” said Loop CEO Tom Szaky, who is also CEO of parent company TerraCycle. The worries surrounding reusability that have arisen amidst the COVID-19 pandemic haven’t seemed to apply to Loop, said Szaky, though they have been experiencing similar supply chain backups as other food and beverage companies. Though the nationwide online launch with Walgreens and Kroger was already in the works, it’s actually been accelerated to early this summer as more consumers have shifted to purchasing products online. “It’s not that single use is safe or unsafe, it’s not like reusable is safe or unsafe, it’s how you deploy those ideas that makes it safe or unsafe,” he said. “It’s the systems behind it that govern safety.” TerraCycle’s larger mission is to “eliminate the idea of waste,” said Szaky, through collecting and recycling materials that are not traditionally recyclable, like toothbrushes and candy wrappers, and also integrating waste back into products, like using ocean plastic in a Head & Shoulders bottle. With Loop, Szaky has taken the goal of waste elimination one step further, starting a division that “tries to solve waste without it ever occurring.” The root cause of waste is using things once, but single-use packaging hasn’t always been the norm, said Szaky, with milk bottles delivered by a milkman being a prime example. In fact, it only rose to prominence in the mid-1900s as packaging moved from being the property of the manufacturer to property of the consumer. “Do you want to own a coffee cup when there’s no coffee in it, or own a toothpaste tube when there’s no toothpaste in it?” said Szaky. “Why should we?” Owning the packaging comes at the price of the consumer, and as packaging is made cheaper, it’s usually made less recyclable. To address this problem, Loop partners with CPG companies to create reusable versions of their products that lower their carbon footprint, in a concept that Szaky said is “sort of like the idea of organic but instead of caring about farming practices, we care about reusability.” According to Szaky, brands are motivated to join Loop for two reasons: they get to innovate in ways they never have before, and they’re able to upgrade their sustainability. Once brands partner with Loop (and pay an onboarding fee), the company works with them to support the creation of sustainable packaging, like stainless steel ice cream containers and glass jars for beverages and nut butter. “Loop provides a much-needed innovation platform, challenging companies to take a fresh look at our value chains and integrate reusable product packaging as part of our efforts to waste-reduction,” said Laurent Freixe, Nestlé CEO for Zone Americas, in a press statement. “Nestlé is proud to be a founding investor and partner of Loop with the debut in the U.S of the Häagen-Dazs reusable container. It’s a critical part of our commitment to work with consumers to protect our planet for future generations.” Because new product development takes time, it can take from one to two years from the time brands sign on to the platform to actually begin shipping product to consumers. Szaky said of the 400 brands that have signed on, about 100 are currently shipping within the Loop system and the rest are in various stages of development. Partners like PepsiCo’s Tropicana orange juice, Purely Elizabeth granola, oatmeal and bars, Canadian brand Greenhouse’s kombucha and Nestle’s Chameleon Cold Brew are still in development. Retailers like Walgreens and Kroger are first launching Loop stores digitally, offering a selection of Loop products on their respective websites, before brick-and-mortar rollouts this fall where Loop will have its own section in the stores. Loop will also be rolling out in the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Japan. The company has also created its own private label brand, Puretto, to test consumer interest. Puretto items, which include products like cheddar crackers, pretzels and bagel chips, are usually sold for six to 12 months, long enough to show proof of concept, and indicate that a national brand is considering developing a product for the category. While individual companies, not Loop, ultimately set the price for items, Szaky said prices are typically kept close to that of the original product. In a time when certain products like baking ingredients or cleaning wipes are seeing online surges, there hasn’t been a push for one particular item on Loop. According to Szaky, products typically don’t perform “better or worse” on the platform. “If you buy a certain ecosystem of products and you like the idea of reusable, you’re buying that same ecosystem of products, but now in reusable,” he said.

Company Delivers Food And Cleaning Products In Returnable Containers

CAMBRIDGE (CBS) — Home delivery services for groceries have been booming during the coronavirus pandemic. One of those companies has an added environmental benefit.   Loop is selling food and cleaning supplies in reusable metal containers that can be returned and shipped out again.   “Loop is the milkman re-imagined,” said company executive Anthony Rossi. “We are bringing that idea of the refillable milk bottle to thousands of different products.” Liz Walker of Cambridge was motivated to cut back on the waste she created in her home. “The climate crisis is the most important issue. It’s so existential,” she said.   Reusable Loop containers (WBZ-TV) Her concern comes as cities and towns have been struggling to keep up with recycling since China stopped accepting our single-stream recycled material. So she began ordering coffee, rice, and personal care items like shampoo from Loop. When the containers are empty, she sends them back and they are cleaned, refilled and shipped out to another customer. Many of the items on Loop’s grocery list are generic staples. But the company has also teamed up with some well-known national brands like Haagen Dasz. “It’s in a special container that keeps it cool,” Walker said. Price can be a downside for Walker, with a pound of pasta going for $5, but Loop expects prices to fall as the company grows. Walker is also concerned about the environmental impact of the deliveries but Loop is working on that, too.   Liz Walker orders from Loop (WBZ-TV) “We are going to bring Loop in-store as well, which is why we are partnering with Kroger and Wallgreens,” Rossi said. The first items available in those retail stores are expected to be out on the west coast later this year. There is no timeline for retail stores in Massachusetts. Walker hopes other companies will get the message that consumers are choosing their brands based on environmental impact. “I think companies are listening. A lot of people are thinking about this problem now,” she said.