Posts with term Loblaw X

The Canadian rummaging through trash cans around the world

Tom Szaky says, “Wow! " Maybe he plugs his nose like we all do, but in front of a full Pampers - just like in front of a cigarette butt, glasses of glasses thrown in the trash or fabrics with enigmatic names of fibers doomed to the dumps. - he sees the opportunity to find a solution. Born in Hungary, arrived in Toronto at the age of 5, now living in New Jersey - he studied at Princeton -, Tom Szaky is truly one of the entrepreneurs who stand out in the world by greedily embracing the challenges of the circular economy. You may know one of his babies, Loop, a company already present in the United States, France and the United Kingdom, which has just arrived in Canada and which allows brands sold in supermarkets to use containers. recorded. It's being tested in Toronto now, in partnership with Loblaw and other well-known brands, such as Heinz or Häagen-Dazs. "It's been just over a week and we've exceeded our one-month goals," Szaky said in a telephone interview. Basically: we order online, it is delivered by Loop, the customer consumes the contents - soup, ketchup, juice, etc. -, and the container is then taken back by a delivery system which will carry everything for cleaning. Then the containers will return to the brands, who will refill them, resell them. You get the picture. And it will be in Montreal at the beginning of 2022, the garbage recycling giant told me. Because there isn't just Loop in the life of the 39-year-old entrepreneur. There is also TerraCycle, his first company, dedicated to the transformation of waste. His first product, at the very beginning, in 2001, was kitchen waste, which he vermicomposted, sold in recycled plastic bottles. But today, it has gone much further in the recovery and transformation of waste long considered irrecoverable, such as dirty disposable diapers - which its teams make into plastics in particular - and cigarette butts, from which they also extract plastics from the filter, while composting the rest of the tobacco. TerraCycle also works to collect and process plastic bottles around the world. Because the company is everywhere, from Tokyo to Trenton, in Ontario, present in twenty countries. With laboratories all over the place, but mainly in New Jersey - in a landfill - TerraCycle is constantly doing research. Its business model: wait for a major player to ask for its help. The company does not seek to sell its green solutions. She finds solutions for those who want them. In large scale. Its partners are called Walgreens, Home Hardware, Procter & Gamble… The list goes on. One of the next projects: promoting waste as an information medium. The contents of diapers say a lot about the health of babies, as does used oil on the condition of engines, says Tom Szaky. You might as well take advantage of everything that can be revealed.   Another avenue explored: the Loop system of material reuse in a loop, but applied to cloth diapers and children's clothing. It's coming fast in the United States and the United Kingdom. In both cases, in partnership with very large companies. So, we forget the small community cloth diaper cleaning service. We think big brands sold in supermarkets. With cleaning, transport and reuse systems in the case of diapers. And simply a cash deposit system, such as a deposit, in the case of baby clothes. Deposit that we recover, of course, by bringing back clothes that have become too small. *** TerraCycle is not a newcomer to the world of waste recovery and recycling. It was founded in 2001 when young Szaky was a student at Princeton. It was during a trip with friends from university to Montreal, at this time, that he saw for the first time worms transforming organic waste into compost and that he had the idea of make the first product of his waste recovery business. Today, about a third of the company's work is industrial waste, and the rest is our everyday consumer waste. The next challenge right now is, you guessed it, on the side of masks, gloves and all the disposable equipment used in the fight against COVID-19. “There's a whole new stream of waste here,” says Szaky. TerraCycle takes care of it.   But the real challenge, 20 years after the discovery of vermicomposting, is no longer concentrated at all towards the quest for new waste streams, new gold in the bins. The new frontier is logistics on a large scale, the search for solutions that work on a large scale and, above all, very, very large. Loop, for example, now operates on a large scale in the United Kingdom with the giant Tesco, in France with Carrefour, and in the United States with notably Walgreens and Burger King! Major players.   Currently, explains Mr. Szaky, there is a remarkable awakening of individuals to the need to produce less waste as well as to recover and reuse objects. Consumers' support is therefore less difficult to obtain than before. Loop's home in Toronto is one example, as is the proliferation of grocery stores offering unpackaged products. But the world of recovery and reuse is also becoming more complex, and the financial challenges are not trivial. The price of oil is low, so there is less reason to want to recover its derivatives otherwise. Also, the raw material is not what it was 20 years ago. There is less waste than before, they are lighter, packaging is often made with more complex materials, more difficult to work with and to break down. (Besides, Szaky thinks that packaging should be simplified, not become more and more multi-layered and multi-material.) Countries that bought waste from others became more demanding. We saw it, in Quebec, when China started to refuse our waste.   When I ask him if the company also intends to take new paths to integrate its work into larger, more global pollution reduction systems, Tom Szaky answers no. “You want to focus on one problem and be good,” he says. So Loop does not come with a guarantee of green transport, for example. It is up to the partners to then be consistent. In France, Carrefour is looking for a solution for “green” delivery. And can consumers do more to recycle better?   Should we buy everything second-hand? At TerraCycle, offices all over the planet are fitted out and furnished with recycled materials, used objects. “Actually, no,” Mr. Szaky replies. “What is needed more than anything is buying less. "

The greening of goods

Consumers still care about making environmentally-friendly choices. Innovation in products and packaging is helping them do it
Rosalind Stefanac | January 22, 2021
In spite of a recent uptick in single-use products, the research shows that even a global pandemic can’t shake consumers’ desire to make sustainable choices when it comes to food and food packaging. “Conscious consumption was gaining traction before and COVID has only accelerated that,” says analyst Shelley Balanko, senior vice-president at the Hartman Group. “Consumers are looking for foods that are sourced in sustainable ways—and produced and packaged in a way that’s in accordance with their values.” According to a 2020 U.S. survey by global management consulting firm Kearney, 48% of respondents said the pandemic has made them more concerned about the environment, and 55% said they were now more likely to purchase environmentally-friendly products. The survey also showed an 85% increase in consumers who planned to decline plastic utensils with food orders and a whopping 164% increase in those who were planning to buy more items in bulk. Whereas shoppers may have focused on sustainable packaging pre-pandemic, Balanko says now that they’ve gotten “up close and personal” with the fact our food supply chain isn’t infinite, they’re also looking at food waste and carbon impact when selecting products. She expects consumers will not only be looking to see if retailers are carrying sustainable brands, but whether they have sustainable programs in place at the store level, too. Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights, says we can also expect to see some truly innovative developments in packaging coming down the pipe. “Making packaging compostable, biodegradable or easy to recycle will be more and more important going forward,” she says. A good example is SupraPulp, a plastic-free packaging made of sugarcane waste from Israeli food tech startup W-Cycle. Not only is it fully compostable and toxin-free, but it’s durable enough for greasy, wet or hot food and can be frozen or heated. During these pandemic times especially, Williams says packaging with antimicrobial properties (which can kill foodborne diseases) are gaining particular favour. (A European Union-funded project called NanoPack has already produced one successful option.) Even big-name brands are looking to mitigate plastic in landfills by turning to more sustainable packaging solutions. This year, Johnnie Walker launched a paper-based whisky bottle, while PepsiCo is using aluminum cans instead of plastic for its Aquafina water brand. For those retailers still hesitating to implement sustainable programs into their business strategies now, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (a U.K.-based charity focused on inspiring a circular economy) estimates that converting just 20% of plastic packing into re-use models (such as refill and return packaging options) is a US$10-billion global opportunity. According to the Foundation’s 2019 Reuse: Rethinking Packaging report, reuse models can cut down on packaging and transportation costs, improve user experience and build loyalty. Reuse and recycling programs at work Some of Canada’s grocery giants have already made concerted efforts to go sustainable, especially when it comes to products and packaging. This year, Sobeys released its first sustainability report establishing “key action pillars” of People, Planet and Products to steer its future strategies. Part of that is the commitment to reduce food waste, maximize recycling efforts and make it easier for customers to reuse in general. The retailer has already introduced reusable mesh produce bags (partially made from recovered plastic found in oceans), in all Sobeys, Safeway, IGA and Foodland stores. It’s also working with Dartmouth, N.S.- based LakeCity Plastics to turn plastic bags into waterfront benches and tables for installation in public spaces across Atlantic Canada. This project will help divert 720,000 plastic bags from landfills. Last year TerraCycle—a global company that offers free recycling programs funded by brands, manufacturers and retailers—partnered with Loblaw in using its Loop platform, which gives consumers the option to get commonly used products delivered to their door in branded, sustainable packaging that is later collected, cleaned, refilled and reused. “Loblaw is our exclusive grocery retail partner in Canada during the pilot phase … [and] ultimately, Loop’s goal is to be integrated into as many retailers and channels as possible to make the biggest impact,” says Anthony Rossi, executive vice-president of business development at TerraCycle & Loop. Loblaw will launch an online pilot program using Loop in the Greater Toronto Area in early 2021. (Just this past October, Tim Hortons announced it was partnering with Loop on a plan to offer reusable food and beverage containers at select Toronto stores in 2021.) Rossi encourages grocers to promote brands that use TerraCyle right on the landing page of their websites and in-store to prompt shoppers to make sustainable choices. “Retailers can partner with TerraCycle and the brands to offer compelling, emotionally engaging retail programs with simple, intuitive and accessible ways to recycle,” he adds. In the meantime, online grocers like SPUD.ca are using TerraCycle Zero Waste Boxes to recycle products for their customers. While the program is currently on hold during COVID-19, pre-pandemic shoppers simply left their empty packaging in the SPUD bin for pickup and the retailer would ship it back to TerraCycle in bulk. (Consumers can also drop off their used containers to any of the SPUD-owned Be Fresh Market and Cafés or Blush Lane Organic Markets located in British Columbia and Alberta.) SPUD has introduced several other recycling initiatives to its customers, including glass bottle distribution and pickup for milk and soap refills. Michelle Austin, SPUD’s sustainability lead, says the fact SPUD is doing the pickup removes the barrier of customers having to return containers to a store. “Customers are actually asking us to do more in this space and we’re responding,” she says. “We’re glad they see value in the zero waste that we do.” Focusing on food waste At Organic Garage, an independent grocer in Ontario, zero food waste initiatives have been a priority from the onset, says Randee Glassman, director of marketing. “We have a fantastic bulk program with up to 60 items,” she says. “We have amazing teas and spices in bulk, along with household cleaners and soaps.” Even with COVID-19, she says they’ve been able to bring the bulk program back by providing containers and featuring hand sanitizing stations throughout. The grocer also works with waste companies to ensure all vegetable trimmings and fruit waste are recycled into cattle feed. Inedible byproducts from its meat department (i.e., meat bones, discarded meat fats and store grease) are also transformed into both industrial and consumer fare. This whole idea of “upcycling” (or using food waste to create new products) is a trend that both analysts and retailers anticipate will gain momentum in the coming years as the effort to tackle the world’s 1.3 billion tons of annual food waste becomes a bigger priority. “We make an effort to identify and bring in upcycled products where available as it is a category that is growing,” says Anthony D’Addario, vice-president of operations at Nature’s Emporium in Ontario. He points to favoured brands like Barnana, which upcycles bananas to make sweet and savoury treats, and Outcast Foods, which makes protein powder and vitamins from imperfect produce. In fact, Outcast Foods is now working with Sobeys in Nova Scotia to divert the grocer’s unsellable fruits and veggies from landfills into quality products. This aligns with Sobeys’ pledge to reduce food waste across its operations by 50% by 2025. As more and more upcycled products come into the market, the expectation is that shoppers will want complete transparency, too. The Upcycled Food Association is in the process of developing a certification program that will allow qualified products to carry an identifying seal clearly showing they are upcycled or contain upcycled ingredients. Cutting carbon footprint It’s not surprising that shoppers concerned about climate change will be looking for food products with smaller carbon footprints. To that end, this year Panera became the first restaurant chain to partner with the World Resources Institute (WRI) in listing entrees on its menu as climate-friendly “Cool Food Meals.” Similar to recommended calories per day, the WRI has established a maximum recommended daily carbon footprint for a person’s diet, which is 38% smaller than the current average. While carbon labels on grocery products aren’t new, there’s been a resurgence of late in this area, with companies like Oatly and Quorn Food in the United Kingdom launching carbon label initiatives in 2020. To further raise awareness around the environmental impact of food, Swedish food company Felix opened a pop-up “Climate Store” in Stockholm in October and based all product prices on carbon footprint: the bigger the emission, the higher the price. The company is also starting to add low climate impact labels on products with emissions that are at least half of the average for food in Sweden. Nespresso is another manufacturer that recently announced plans to better tackle carbon emissions across its products and supply chain. Along with increasing the use of low-carbon virgin aluminum in its coffee capsules, the company has committed to planting trees in coffee farms and investing in forest conservation and restoration projects. The goal is for every cup of Nespresso coffee to be carbon-neutral by 2022. Sustainable next steps As manufacturers and suppliers address a growing trend towards sustainable products and packaging, grocers are, ultimately, tasked with helping consumers make sustainable choices. “One challenge with sustainability is the metrics can vary so it’s hard to say one product is more sustainable than another in absolute terms,” says Innova Market Insights’ Williams. “But there is always the opportunity to look for products that have attributes that are sustainable so shoppers looking for that could more easily find [them].” To keep sustainability initiatives on track, there’s also a need to make “sustainable choices the sustainable choice,” says Eli Browne, director of corporate sustainability at Sobeys. “[Consumers] may be asking for sustainable products but there is always that value pricing pressure, and we need to be able to respond accordingly to provide quality products at price points people can afford,” she explains, adding that this is both the challenge and opportunity in working with suppliers. Browne says there are instances where suppliers have come to Sobeys or vice-versa to come up with new innovations when it comes to sustainable packaging. “I think a great example is our cucumber trays, which went from a non-recyclable plastic to a molded fibre tray that can be recycled,” she says. “Now it’s grown to be an industry standard.” Along with providing shoppers with sustainable choices in products and packaging, there’s an onus on retailers to educate their customers in how to promote environmentally friendly habits at home too, adds Browne. “I see education and engaging customers to make the right choice going hand in hand,” she says. “Being in a retail space where people have to go to eat, we have that privilege and responsibility to be part of the solution.”

Burger King, Loop, TerraCycle, Unilever, Nature’s Path

Tim Hortons has partnered with TerraCycle to bring reusables to its restaurants, becoming the first QSR to join the company’s Loop recycling platform. Set to be piloted in Toronto next year, customers will be given the option to pay a deposit to receive their drink or food order in a reusable container. The containers are then returned to a restaurant, where they will be cleaned for reuse and the customer will get their deposit back. Loop is a TerraCycle program that has partnered with retailers and brands to create sustainable, reusable packaging for grocery, household and personal care products. Once used, the empty containers are returned in a milkman-style system using a tote, which is placed outside a customer’s home for Loop to pick-up, with the containers then cleaned by the company and returned to the customer for reuse. Customers will have their refills returned directly to their door.

How Beauty Brands are Taking a More Sustainable Approach to Packaging and Products

We can’t shop our way to saving the planet, but mindful choices matter. From ingredient sourcing to sustainable packaging, here’s how the industry’s forward thinkers are striving to tread more lightly as they produce the beauty products you see on the shelves. RETHINK (INGREDIENTS) The fine print on beauty labels tells us next to nothing about how responsibly sourced ingredients are. To muddy matters, calculating a product’s eco-footprint is far trickier than checking if the formula is all-natural or organic. For starters, natural ingredients can still cause environmental havoc—take, for instance, palm oil and its derivatives. Widely used in beauty products, they can be found in everything from shampoo to lipstick. They are largely produced in Indonesia and Malaysia, and the destruction of rainforests to clear the way for palm oil plantations is rampant. “A lot of companies are coming in and bulldozing and forcing communities out,” says Lindsay Dahl, senior vice-president of social mission at Beautycounter. Although the brand initially wanted to eschew palm oil, it realized that palm derivatives are still the best choice for many of its products.

Stores are essential for the Loop reusable packaging program

Kroger, Loop, supermarket In the roughly eight months since the Loop reusable packaging service has been up and running with pilot e-commerce consumers in select markets, there have been package design hiccups, retailer additions and product-line extensions. As an early adopter in Loop parent company TerraCycle’s home state of New Jersey, I’ve witnessed all of that firsthand. Now, I’m eager for the company to pull off its next planned U.S. milestone: integrating supermarket and drug store locations affiliated with The Kroger Co. and Walgreens into the business model, so customers can drop off empty containers more frequently, without having to ship back or find a UPS location to drop off the rather hefty tote used for deliveries. (Each easily can transport up to 20 or so items, depending on the assortment purchased.) If things go TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky’s way, West Coast stores from Kroger — its various brands including Dillons, Fred Meyer and Ralphs are in 35 states nationwide — will start accepting Loop container returns by mid-2020. East Coast customers will need to wait until the fall, when Walgreens plans to do the same. The idea is Loop accountholders will be able to return empty containers when and where it’s convenient to in-store bins. From there, TerraCycle will orchestrate transportation to facilities where they can be inspected, washed and sanitized prior to being refilled, Szaky said. "You can drop off the product, no matter where you bought it," Szaky told me, when we chatted about Loop’s progress late last year. Through a Loop spokesperson, Kroger and Walgreens declined to comment on their specific plans for the Loop service. Both went public with their Loop partnerships in May. Loop tote TerraCycle Loop hopes to integrate in-store collection in the U.S. by the middle of 2020. Introduced in January 2019 to much fanfare at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Loop celebrated its first birthday last month, although the service only started delivering to consumers in its launch markets near Paris and New York in May. Its premise was simple: to carry only products that come in reusable, refillable bottles, jugs or cans. Those items are purchased online and delivered to the customer's doorstep via UPS. Loop is available to a "community of thousands" (TerraCycle doesn’t disclose exact numbers) in 10 U.S. states, and new consumer product brands are being added on an almost daily basis — ranging from pantry staples such as the dried chickpeas in my own cabinet to specialty nut butters to personal care items. Close to 150 unique products are available in both France and the United States, where the best-sellers include Häagen-Dazs ice cream (my favorite is the non-dairy coconut caramel blend it's testing), Tide detergent and Clorox wipes. Right now, Loop caters to customers who aren't afraid to spend a little extra on groceries or that have a craving for niche items that might not find their way onto mainstream store shelves. The prices themselves are higher than you would pay in-store for similar items, plus the deposits can add up quickly: I've only got six items at home right now, but my "active" deposit account has a balance of $41. Loop is acting as the bank for that money. Szaky told me that while the current Loop customer may skew high-end or eco-conscious, TerraCycle is seeking to create a mass-market appeal by adding products you'd find in your neighbor's pantry. The Kroger and Walgreen's relationships will be instrumental in making that happen, especially if they become active locally in every place possible. Kroger is the second-largest U.S. retailer and largest grocery supermarket company with more than 2,800 stores; Walgreens, which operates in all 50 states, had close to 9,300 locations as of August. That's an impressive physical footprint. Expansions into the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Japan and Australia are in the works starting in March and over the next two years in close collaboration with prominent retailers in those geographies including Tesco (UK) and Loblaw (Canada). As the service matures, more of these new markets intend to launch an integrated in-store/online version of Loop, with Japan and Australia likely to lead that charge, Szaky said.

The trouble with totes

While TerraCycle may be the primary corporate face of the Loop brand, the important role of retailers in scaling any reusable packaging model should not be downplayed. Partners like Kroger and Walgreens bring inventory and category management expertise, merchandising savvy, pricing know-how, logistics and e-commerce expertise and, of course, existing connections with everyday shoppers. The future role retailers will play in collection will be crucial, as Loop seeks to shrink the amount of time containers spend in the hands of consumers before they are returned and refilled. Right now, that period varies dramatically depending on the product category — on a monthly basis for ice cream, for example, or up to three months for shampoo. Mostly, it depends not just on how quickly a consumer uses up a given product but on whether they decide to wait until a tote is full before a return shipment. Our experience reinforces our belief that this is not just a trend that is going to come and go. One of Loop’s value propositions is that it can help brands better understand consumption habits as it reduces their dependence on single-use packaging. "In our model, we can report on repeat, refill, how long it takes, whether they take advantage of autorefill," said Heather Crawford, vice president of marketing and e-commerce at TerraCycle. Right now, however, it’s difficult to estimate how long containers sit empty in customers’ homes as they transfer items into other receptacles or as they wait to fill up a return tote — the only tote size right now is 19 inches by 16.5 inches by 16 inches. The cushiony inserts that hold the containers can be reconfigured to handle the different sizes and to accommodate the heavy cold pack that's used to transport frozen items before they melt. If there's ice cream in your order, you can only consolidate a half-dozen more items or so into the same shipment. And be careful when you're picking the tote up: An empty tote containing a cold pack weighs more than 15 pounds. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve managed to return just two batches of spent containers in the service’s iconic tote since May. That's in part because I live in a two-person household and I had a tough time finding items that I actually wanted to order — right after I signed up for Loop, my doctor prescribed a food elimination diet that bounced many of the plant-based products in the Loop inventory off my plate. But mostly, I felt guilty about the carbon emissions impact of dispatching a UPS delivery truck to pick up an almost-empty package. Ultimately, I opted for what I considered to be a more eco-friendly option: bringing my return tote to a UPS shipping location while I was out on another errand. But my experience isn’t unique and for some markets, notably Tokyo where people live in much smaller homes with far less storage space, TerraCycle is considering a smaller tote. Adding collection bins at retailers is also likely to reduce the reuse cycle, as consumers will be able to return containers far more frequently. Haagen-Dazs, salted caramel, Loop Loop Haagen-Dazs is one of the best selling items on Loop. The shape of the pint jars are designed to withstand 100 cleaning cycles.

Nestle, Reinberger Nut Butter share early learnings

While the Loop products in the United States and France are different, the categories where shoppers are gravitating toward in Loop’s reusable containers are similar, including quick-turn grocery and pantry staples that generate the "highest volume of visible garbage," Crawford said. Loop also has helped generate interest in niche and specialty items, such as the various protein spreads sold by Reinberger Nut Butter, a small food company in the Philadelphia area that was less-than-impressed by its experience selling products through Amazon. Reinberger, which already distributed its mixed nut butter in reusable containers, changed its design to make it lighter and introduced single-nut lines unique to Loop, said Luke Rein, who manages production for the company. Its container isn’t entirely reusable — the aluminum lid needs to be handled differently because of the seal — but as sales grow, it’s addressing that issue. "Ideologically, this matches up well and is a good source of revenue," Rein said. According to Crawford, the average Loop order size is eight to 10 items (far less than what its big tote currently can handle). It’s adding brands on an almost daily basis, after they meet the company’s container design criteria. There have been some snafus with some products. For example, the initial containers for Tide's plant-based Purclean laundry detergent needed to be tweaked when the lids were found to leak, an issue that was annoying for me at home, as the detergent kept oozing down the side of the bottle onto my laundry room shelf. While the U.S. and French markets launched with about 80 products each, new regions likely will have at least 200 products at launch. In our model, we can report on repeat, refill, how long it takes, whether they take advantage of autorefill. At this time, no containers used in the U.S. or France have reached their maximum reuse potential, Crawford said, at which point they will be recycled or upcycled. That includes Nestle’s popular metal Häagen-Dazs ice cream containers, which posed a unique design challenge to the company, according to Steven Yeh, commercialization project manager for the Nestle ice cream team. The shape of the pint-ish-sized jars, designed to withstand 100 cleaning cycles, was rounded to make the ice cream easier to scoop and double-walled both for durability and to keep cold during the delivery process, Yeh said. (As already mentioned, Loop also includes a cold pack in its totes for frozen items.) It took six months to come up with the current container. Nestle’s experience with Loop so far is being used to inform its strategies and perceptions about consumer subscription models. It will test another edition of the reusable metal containers at more than 200 Häagen-Dazs ice cream boutiques across the U.S., where it hopes to allow customers to bring them back for refills, starting in New York. "Our experience reinforces our belief that this is not just a trend that is going to come and go," Yeh said. "It reinforces our commitment to a reusable container. We need to focus even more efforts on this."


Old car seats. Cigarette butts. Used contact lenses. Most people think of this kind of detritus as future landfill, but Tom Szaky sees all this and more as recyclable. He’s the CEO and founder of TerraCycle and its newest initiative, Loop. Both are circular economy solutions that bridge the gaps between consumers, corporations, and waste. TerraCycle, founded in 2001, is a private recycling company that focuses on capturing and repurposing hard-to-recycle items by partnering with corporations and governments. Loop, launched publicly in mid-2019, takes on the problem of waste even more aggressively by working with brands to provide reusable packaging for common consumer products — think Tide laundry detergent or Häagen-Dazs ice cream. HBR asked Szaky, a global leader on reducing waste, about what he’s learned about how consumers, companies, and the government are — or aren’t — helping to reduce the massive amounts of waste humans create on a daily basis. In this edited interview, he also offers advice for business leaders who are interested in pursuing circular models. You’re sitting in a unique position between brands and consumers. What conversations are you having on each side? And which side is more resistant to the argument for sustainability? In the past two years I’ve seen a big shift in how consumers view waste. They’ve woken up to all the negatives of garbage and have started to see it as more of a crisis. That said, consumers are still voting with their dollar for things that benefit them personally, like convenience, performance, and overall price. They’re very vocal, but they’re not necessarily shifting their actual purchasing. Now, the vocal nature of the consumer alone does create a really exciting thing: Brands are waking up to this trend. Even more so, lawmakers are waking up and passing legislation that is affecting consumer product companies, like banning plastic bags and straws. In France in a few years, takeaway food packaging — plastic plates, cups, and utensils — will not be used if you eat in restaurants. These laws are then creating ripples across the consumer product retail industry. Is your feeling that governments are filling gaps that businesses have left? Or are they nudging consumers along, encouraging them to take the action they profess to support? It’s more complicated than that. Plastic straws weren’t seen as a problem up until maybe two years ago; then they became the icon of what’s wrong with plastic and disposability. After a huge public outcry, lawmakers started passing legislation banning the straw. Then companies proactively banned straws before even more legislation actually took hold. So a push from consumers led lawmakers to take action and then corporations jumped in. Now the plastic straw is effectively dying. But it took all three nudging each other. Tell me about the kinds of conversations you’re having with investors and other stakeholders as part of starting and leading two companies. What’s it like to be in the sustainability sphere, especially as a new startup? We started developing the concept for Loop just two years ago, which absolutely makes it a startup. TerraCycle is 16 years old and more of a growth company. So I have two different perspectives. TerraCycle has grown every year since the beginning, but in the past two years it has exploded. Corporations that wouldn’t have signed with us before are now signing on. And corporations that are signed on are going deeper. We grew our revenue 30% organically in 2019, compared to 2018, and expect the same in 2020. This is driven primarily by everything moving faster and companies wanting to go deeper versus big new surprises or new industries that have been asleep now waking up. In parallel, we also raised about $20 million for Loop Global and about $20 million for TerraCycle US. The key change there is that investors are looking much more for authentic impact investments. This is entirely correlated to garbage becoming a crisis. I don’t think Loop could have existed even five years ago because of the ask. Essentially, we’re asking CPG [consumer packaged goods] companies and retailers to fundamentally redesign packaging and accept major changes to the economics of packaged goods delivery — in other words, to treat packaging as an asset instead of a cost. Because of changing views on garbage, they’re increasingly willing to say yes to that. So what is happening now in the startup world is that more audacious ideas that solve these issues — like Loop — are on the table. Do you think existing companies are going to be able to make this shift? Or is it going to have to be new companies that are entering the market? Both. I think that we’re going to see some organizations die because of this. Others will pivot. And new companies will fill out the balance, just as with any shift. Look at tech, for instance. How many retailers survived it? Some did a great job, right? And some, like specialty big-box retailers — Toys “R” Us, Linens ’n Things, Staples in Europe, et cetera — died in the process. The key in this instance is to pivot and reinvent the organization, noting that this is easier said than done, as it takes tremendous short-term sacrifice. I believe that it won’t be industries or sectors that pivot versus die, but individual companies. Some organizations, like Nestlé, Unilever, and P&G, are taking these issues seriously and making the difficult decisions that may negatively impact the short term but lay the foundation to be relevant in the long term. Inversely, organizations — like many big food companies in the U.S. — are blind to what’s coming and will likely be overtaken by startups that are building their business models around the new reality that is emerging. When you’re having conversations with investors for TerraCycle or Loop, what are they concerned about? What do they want to know? There’s suddenly a lot more interest in this topic in the investment community, and I think investors would tell you that they really think sustainability is almost a requirement for the future. Fifteen years ago, when we were raising capital for TerraCycle, people invested because of impact and purpose; it was like they were considering giving money to an NGO. Today, investors would tell you that they really think sustainability is a requirement for the future. They are looking at the sustainability index not just as “Oh, I am feeling good about where I’m putting my money” — now it’s moved to sustainability being critical for business longevity. A lot of what we’ve seen major corporations do is market sustainability in that “purpose” bucket, and not in the “business” bucket, with pledges and other high-profile commitments. Is this changing? Are large corporations able to move from the emotional bucket to the business bucket the same way investors are? The most famous of the pledges is the Ellen MacArthur Foundation pledge, which more than 400 businesses and organizations have signed, signaling their intent to eliminate their use of new plastic. It basically says that, by 2025, they will make their products compostable, recyclable, and reusable. And they will significantly increase their use of recycled content by this date. Now, let’s be candid about why they’re pledging. Since waste has become a crisis in the past two years, many companies have come to the position that they have to solve it or they will be legislated out of it. The best way to get ahead is to make future promises, partly because you don’t have to do anything between today and the promise day, right? If everyone promises that by 2025 all this great stuff will happen, they are not really responsible in the present. I’ve talked to chief sustainability officers of some of the world’s largest CPG companies who honestly have no idea how they’re going to pull it off. They have no f—cking idea what they’re going to do and are saying things like, “Well, the industry will figure it out.” That’s scary. Here’s what I think will happen come 2025 with this particular promise. There is a difference between the promises to be “recyclable” and made from “recycled content.” In other words, most companies, via the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, have pledged that by 2025 they will be 100% recyclable and independently made from a high percentage (typically 25%) of recycled content. I think that the majority of companies will say that they made their package “technically recyclable” but that the recycling industry is to blame for not then “practically recycling” them. I think maybe 90% of companies making these promises will fail and then point to the fine print, saying, “Oh, we made our packaging recyclable, but the recycling systems don’t have the capability to recycle it today.” That’s going to create a big reckoning that will piss off consumers even more, backfiring on brands. So those 10% that succeed, how do they do that? They’re just getting ahead of it. Here’s an example: Some companies are now buying futures on recycled plastic so they know they will have the volume, which is an unheard-of thing in procuring plastic. A good example is Nestlé. The key line in their recent press release is this“To create a market, Nestlé is therefore committed to sourcing up to 2 million metric tons of food-grade recycled plastics and allocating more than CHF 1.5 billion to pay a premium for these materials between now and 2025.” One of the things that interest me about your company is how you collaborate with so many companies. How difficult is this? Could you go it alone? We absolutely need to collaborate. These are systemic problems, and to solve the system you need multi-stakeholder collaboration. Loop could only exist with massive multi-stakeholder collaboration. There would be no other way to pull it off. And I think we need more and more of that. What makes collaborations like this work? Trade groups and consortiums don’t work. The problem with an industry group, at least in my experience, is to get the group together so they can publicly say that there is a multi-stakeholder discussion. But the outcomes are usually nothing. So how do we create true multi-stakeholder system change? Because if you’re going to change the system, you need all the stakeholders to agree. With Loop, we consciously tried to create a multi-stakeholder collaboration. And look at what happened: It’s working. We’re adding a brand every two days since we launched, and most major multinational CPG companies have joined: Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, et cetera. We’ve also added a retailer every three weeks since our launch, including retailers around the world. Loop is live in France (via Carrefour) and the U.S. (via Kroger and Walgreens) via e-com, and is expanding in both countries to in-store later this year. It is also launching in Canada (via Loblaw), the UK (via Tesco), Germany (via a retailer we will announce in February), and Japan (via AEON), all this year. And finally, we have seen tremendously positive consumer insights — people want Loop, and they like the experience when they get access to it. I don’t see too many companies with similar models out there yet. Loop is a major systems change that requires a large coalition of multi-stakeholders. That is, no company can do it on their own — everyone has to act together. What I am seeing is a lot of groups calling us and saying, “How did you do the Loop thing, and how can we apply that type of system or process to whatever our topic may be?” They ask this because, typically, multi-stakeholder collaborations are slow and hard to drive results from. What do you tell them? I tell them that you cannot run such a platform by committee. There needs to be a “chair” that makes the decisions, even if the decisions are unpopular, and creates the urgency to make sure everything is moving forward quickly. You also set public deadlines that everyone can agree to. For example, it’s why we launched at the World Economic Forum last year — that was a deadline everyone could align on.

In the loop

Businesses are faced with significant challenges every day. Among the most demanding are working towards a supply chain that is sustainable, yet profitable. It’s no longer about minimally meeting environmental regulations but creating value for consumers and stakeholders. The focus is toward more innovative, opportunity-focused thinking that considers impacts on the planet and society (is it positive, neutral or simply “less bad”?) and prepares organizations for resilience and growth in an uncertain future. For consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, thinking critically about the function of packaging and the ways they can change the paradigm around production and consumption is one aspect of designing a supply chain that can take us out of the linear and into a regenerative circular economy. As the system currently operates, industry produces on a one-way track to landfilling and incineration. Raw material is sourced from the earth to produce commodities sold, used and disposed, and the value of the material is lost—either buried or burned. Facilities waste and other pre-consumer materials meet the same fate. From linear to circular This make-use-dispose pipeline is known as the linear economy because products and packaging, once manufactured and used, too often go in one direction: the garbage. Conversely, the concept of a circular economy keeps resources in the supply chain at high value by recovering, reusing and repurposing whenever possible. Within this context, supply chain doesn’t just refer to the materials and processes involved in the back-end of making and distributing something, but the full lifecycle of an item, including when it leaves the production line. The consumer goods supply chain is currently quite wasteful end-to-end; focusing on packaging reveals significant opportunities for improvement. Many “green” packaging trends aim to solve for waste with the end-user, the link where the value of material is visibly lost. For example, biodegradable bioplastics made of renewable feedstocks instead of petroleum are supposed to break down in the environment as plastic litter does not. This demonstrates a change in raw material sourcing and an attempt to prevent litter with a material that will decompose. However, most compostable bioplastics need an industrial composting facility to break down. There are only a handful of those globally, and many don’t want this in their piles. What’s more, the resources needed to produce bioplastic are agricultural space, water and material the world is nowhere near able to sustain at scale. Another example of manufacturers aiming to tackle waste on both ends of the supply chain is the practice of lightweighting packaging by either replacing materials with a lighter weight alternative (glass with plastic) or using less material. The idea is less waste at the front and back end, but often results in a product or package rendered non-recyclable through conventional channels. What neither of these methods do is value resources such that they are kept cycling within the supply chain and in use for as long as possible, extracting their maximum value and recovering them for reintegration. Each practice assumes the resources that go into producing packaging, and the resulting post-consumer waste, is disposable and still treats the material as single-use. We did a lot of reflection and realized that the foundational cause of garbage is disposability. For a packaging designer, an effective approach when considering materials is to make packaging out of material that recyclers want and have the technology to handle. It’s about the entire supply chain and the potential for a recycling company to make a profit. But a circular economy is one that focuses on durability and use of renewable resources, including energy inputs. Recycling, while important, is energy and resource intensive, which is why so many items are not considered cost-effective to recycle. The need for profit Packaging design for profitability is certainly complex enough without considering the full life cycle of materials. Manufacturers and brands that commit to sustainability in a practical, scalable way stand out in an industry that still profits from the status quo, but it must be profitable in order for it to stick in the short-term. Rethinking all aspects of the supply chain, from sourcing to end-of-life, is the key. Above all resources, true change requires boldness. TerraCycle’s new circular shopping platform Loop works with brands to create durable versions of goods previously housed in single-use packaging. The products are offered in a combination of glass, stainless steel, aluminum and engineered plastics designed to last at least 100 uses; when they do wear out, TerraCycle is able to recycle them, cycling the value of the material. Offering trusted brands in upgraded containers, consumers enjoy products they love while eliminating packaging waste—a “win-win” for profitable, sustainable supply chains. Conveniently delivered to one’s doorstep, the Loop Tote doesn’t use bubble wrap, air packs, plastic foam, or cardboard boxes, also scrapping excess e-commerce packaging material. With Loop, brands are taking the bold step of owning their package at every link on the supply chain and putting their packages back on the line. While the goal of the platform is to eventually eliminate single-use packaging from the waste stream altogether, manufacturers have the opportunity to offer their refillable products as an additional SKU in their product lines, which has virtues for large and small brands alike. While large companies have the resources and funding to take on a lighthouse project like this, smaller businesses have the flexibility to design for sustainability in the now. Corporations such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever can make a huge impact here, while young companies like Soapply and Melanin Essentials set the standard for making sustainability a part of their DNA. As an integral aspect of the supply chain, retailer partnerships bring the packaging into stores, making it accessible for consumers. In the United States, our founding partners are Walgreens and Kroger, Europe has Carrefour, and Canada’s largest food and pharmacy retailer Loblaw Companies Limited recently announced it would launch the platform in the country early-2020. Developing close collaborations of this kind creates a strong position for all players to offer higher-value products with less waste on the back-end. Reconciling innovation and growth with sustainability is by no means an easy task, and dialogue with all stakeholders yield more-complete information and options to consider. An important thing to remember is that supply chains are about people, not just processes. What’s interesting is the higher up the waste hierarchy you move (from litter to landfill, waste to energy, to recycling, upcycling and reuse) the more jobs you create in the process. In terms of injecting value in moving from the linear to the circular economy, this is a positive most of us can agree on. In the end, sustainability comes down to taking responsibility. What companies tend to be good at is being efficient in their operations. Focus less on the physical factory as the point of the environmental issue and realize everything put out on the market will become garbage unless you take responsibility for it. Everything leaving the factory currently becomes waste. Tom Szaky is the founder and CEO of TerraCycle Design products that have value, instead of harm. The circular economy at its ideal is intended to be regenerative. Shouldn’t we aspire that our products actually create a benefit? Even If we get to 100 per cent recycling, 100 per cent recycled content and zero packaging waste from reusable packaging, we’ve only hit net neutral. What is net positive? We need to start thinking about that versus just going about how are we going to eliminate our negative.  

Solutions for single-use plastic pollution must consider all stakeholders

PurPod™ product shot There’s something in the air. Or, should we say, the ocean. Joining what The New York Times called “a growing global movement,” the Canadian government recently announced it would be tackling the global pollution crisis with bans on single-use plastics. The big question is whether that strategy will trigger the teamwork needed to get the best results. The details of the Canadian plan remain to be seen, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would follow the lead of the European Union with their vote to ban items, such as plastic cutlery and cotton-swab sticks, that often end up littered in oceans and waterways. With a goal of improving the current 10% “at best” estimate for plastics recycled in Canada, any bans could start at soon as 2021. A key step in that direction will have to be input from manufacturers, retailers, all levels of government and the public—to capture all the factors for success.
Going green, in the grey   Government action is an important and largely missing ingredient in the effort against plastic pollution. Banning certain types of single-use plastic can be a way to prevent pollution at the source. However, we must keep in mind that, despite the current systems of thinking regarding the most environmentally and economically preferable ways to manage resources, we need to pay attention to the grey areas and see the full range of potential impacts. Hindsight is 20/20, which can explain our experience with disposability and single-use in the first place. Manufacturers didn’t advertise the virtues of disposability to fool the public into polluting and littering, but they focused on how this new wave of consumption might make life easier; today, in the light of the past, the effects of a narrow focus on these benefits are plain. We need to take the same big-picture thinking to today’s environmental initiatives of product bans, regulations on packaging design, even recycling, as we need to consider their current impacts and the potential for success in the long-term. We need to be alert to the reality that while consumers care about the planet and their health, they have gotten used to the convenience, price point, and ease offered by lightweight, single-use items. Exploring alternatives We know the consumers care and report being willing to pay or switch brands for those that offer accessible, actionable solutions. A study from Dalhousie University, “The Single-Use Plastics Dilemma: Perceptions and Possible Solutions,” reveals current and emerging generations of Canadian consumers are mindful of the need for greener products; the same study reports one out of every two Canadians actively shop for food in non-plastic packaging. However, we also know many consumers are focused on price. Interestingly, 71.8% of respondents reported that in the event single-use plastic bans are enacted, they’d want a discount, incentive or rebate for supporting alternative solutions. It shows the need to meet people where they are, offer them the virtues of convenience and functionality they have become accustomed to, and make it more worth their while. Plant-based plastics are one option that consumers are excited about. The consumer behavior study showed 37.7% of respondents would be willing to pay more for an item with biodegradable packaging, which is usually plant-based; this percentage grew to 46.6% for those born after 1994. Consumers connect with the concept of compostable plastics made from plants that should break down in composting facilities, or better still, the natural environment. , as it addresses our dependence on petroleum and concerns of further contributing to landfills or ocean pollution. But those expectations may mean a grey area for “green” plastic, as not all of these materials are created equal. Breaking down compostability  
PurPod™ product shot© PurPod™ 
The compostability of plant-based plastics is akin to the recyclability claims for petroleum-based plastics. Everything doesn’t break down in every setting. In the case of compostable plant-based plastics, most require processing in an industrial composting facility to get the mix of the right temperatures and moisture levels to break down as quickly as possible. Many won’t cycle down in your backyard pile, let alone the ocean or in a landfill. The good news is the number of composting facilities in North America is growing, particularly as governments push for food waste diversion away from landfills and incinerators. One of the big challenges centers on “biodegradable” claims. Many composters report that most so-called biodegradable plastics don’t break down into nutrient-rich material as, say, food scraps or yard clippings, which have a wide range of micro- and macronutrients as well as a living ecosystem of bacteria and other microbes. There is growing pressure to ban “biodegradable” claims completely because they are seen as misleading for consumers. All aboard What producers can do is ensure new materials are in line with the system as it is currently. Club Coffee, a major Canadian coffee company, created the world’s first BPI Certified coffee pod for the most common brewers in North America. Unlike the traditional plastic pod, their pods break down in as little as five weeks in facilities designed to produce high-quality compost. A big reason is the pods include the skins of roasted coffee beans, turning what was a waste byproduct into a key ingredient for compostability.  
PurPod™ product shot© PurPod™ 
The PURPOD100TM meets ASTM International’s Standard D6868 for compostability and required quite a bit of lab testing, and transparency around ingredients and production. The company has worked to ensure that marketing and advertising materials are accurate and not misleading. Club Coffee has worked closely with leaders like the Compost Manufacturing Alliance, which brings together major U.S. composting operators to test products to make sure they really deliver the composting results that consumers expect and that operators need. The company also works with the Compost Council of Canada. The result of taking into account the inputs of all stakeholders? Consumers value the coffee, convenience, and compostability; retailers get the positives of a more sustainable, premium product; composters have a product that works in their systems; and Club Coffee enjoys brand affinity. Where the private sector here is stepping up to solve for single-use plastic on its own, governments can drive change by subsidizing research and incentivizing environmentally preferable uses of materials to ease the financial risks. As with recycling, supporting the expansion of the composting network will be an important step forward. According to a study by Frontier Group and U.S. PIRG Education Fund, composting could aid topsoil quality and reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills and incinerators in the U.S. by at least 30 percent.  
PurPod™ product shot© PurPod™ 
Get in the ‘Loop’ Exploring alternatives to conventional plastics is one valuable solution as are single-use plastics bans. Another way forward is to reduce waste at the source through reduction and preventing the need to dispose. To get there, consumers need the alternatives that businesses are in a position to provide. TerraCycle’s new circular shopping platform Loop currently features durable versions of goods previously housed in single-use packaging. The products are offered in a combination of glass, stainless steel, aluminum, and engineered plastics designed to last up to 100 uses; when they do wear out, they are processed to cycle the value of the material continuously. Offering trusted brands in upgraded containers, consumers enjoy products they love while eliminating disposable packaging. Delivered to one’s door, a modern version of the milkman model of yore, the Loop Tote doesn’t use bubble wrap, air packs, plastic foam, or cardboard boxes, scrapping e-commerce excess. Loop partners with retailers to bring reusable packaging into stores, making it easy for consumers to make the switch. In the U.S., the founding partners are Walgreens and Kroger, Europe has Carrefour, and Canada’s largest food and pharmacy retailer Loblaw recently announced it would launch the platform early-2020. Executive Chairman Galen Weston said, “Our industry is part of the problem, and we can be part of the solution.” Buying into solutions for single-use plastics The state of the recycling industry around the globe is fragmented, as are the needs of each region, but the world’s problems with plastic pollution are the same. While improvements are made by governments, there is a strong demand for authentically “eco-friendly” plastics and durable alternatives. Consumers hold more power in this aspect than they know. If we demand less disposability and more systems-thinking, businesses will push suppliers, vendors, peers, and stakeholders for better materials and models for waste reduction, and profit, in the face of many challenges. Thus, the most important shift toward solutions for single-use plastic waste is a collaboration with valued experts. Businesses can close the loop by sharing learnings, taking responsibility, and inspiring others to start their circular economy journey. All players on the supply chain are accountable for the life cycle of goods, and exploring bold alternatives that create value from every angle are the ones that will stick.

Loblaw expects seamless Loop integration

https://www.insidelogistics.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Loop-Loblaw-Large-Tiffin_PC-Decadent--e1565350697379.jpg Loblaw Companies will not need to make any up-front investment in or changes to its logistics cycles to incorporate reusable packaging partner Loop into its operations, a spokesperson for the company says. “In the first phase, Loop is responsible for the logistics from the storing and delivery of the goods to consumers, so there will be no impact on our logistics,” Catherine Thomas, senior director of external communication for Loblaw Companies Limited, told Inside Logistics. Loop, a subsidiary of New Jersey-based Terracycle, integrates reusable packaging product cycles into existing retail environments. It will kick off the service by selling President’s Choice products in reusable packaging entirely through the Loop + Loblaw online purchasing platform. This system will be accessible via the PC Express website but will transact independently. Should the Canadian pilot be successful with its Toronto launch, both parties intend for Loblaw to become more involved as Loop’s processes become integrated directly into the retailer’s online platform and, eventually, into in-store applications and across additional markets. Product returns will also fall under Loop’s purview, which will not present logistics challenges. “A return will not impact the logistics cycle in any way,” says Lauren Taylor, Loop Global’s vice-president of creative and communications. “Each Loop company owns its own package, so each company will handle any product dissatisfaction.” Loop maintains a rigorous sanitation process that ensures high hygiene standards as containers are reused. They will be washed above 150°F with a sodium hydroxide solution, then rinsed over 180°F with a mild acid sanitizer. Last, the containers will be rinsed with deionized water. “Loop has partnered with manufacturers to implement stringent Quality Assurance processes throughout each stage of our cleaning and fulfillment systems, so consumers are receiving products that are entirely safe for consumption. Loop will also follow strict reporting processes to ensure that any adverse events or quality complaints are immediately escalated and addressed by both Loop and the manufacturer of the product.” The Toronto pilot project is one of several worldwide. Loop is currently active in Paris and New York, and launches are in the works for London (U.K.), Tokyo, Germany, and California.

Loblaw joins sustainable packaging program Loop

First announced earlier this year, Loop is a program from global recycling company TerraCycle, which has partnered with retailers and brands to create sustainable, reusable packaging for products in an effort to reduce waste. After placing an online order for grocery, household and personal care products, the products are delivered in a special, reusable tote. The packaging– which is designed to be specific to each brand and product – is placed back in the tote once it is used and returned to Loop for reuse. Products can be ordered for one-time use, or set to auto-refill once they are returned.