Posts with term Loblaws X

First Came the Milkman. Then Came Loop.

How one company is working to eliminate the very idea of waste   Since 2001, where most of us have seen trash, Tom Szaky has seen potential. From cigarette butts to coffee capsules, Tom set out to recycle the hard-to-recycle products we use. His company, TerraCycle, offers everything from free recycling programs to industrial waste solutions. “But we can’t recycle our way out of the waste crisis,” Eric Rosen, publicist for TerraCycle said. “And [Tom] is the first to say if TerraCycle didn’t exist — or couldn’t exist — he’d be thrilled.” In other words, he would love to see a world where we produced zero waste to begin with. That’s where TerraCycle’s latest venture, Loop, comes in. “The next thing to do was to attack waste at the root cause,” Eric said. “If the economics are good, we can recycle virtually anything. But that’s not going to solve the problem.”   “The next step was to create a circular economy where there’s virtually no waste.” Loop was announced at the World Economic Forum in January 2019, proposing a new model of consumption whereby people can get their favorite home goods, cosmetics, and food products through a sustainable, circular system of pick-up and drop-off using reusable containers. It took off from there. “We immediately had thousands upon thousands of people who went to the website and were waitlisted,” Eric said. “So we knew right away that there was a clamoring for this. And we’ve continued to see that as we grow.” The company launched its pilot program that summer, beginning in Paris on May 14 and New York the following week. “We launched in a handful of states as a pilot,” Eric said. “We could not keep up with the number of requests coming in, like ‘When are you coming to our state?’ Certainly, the waste crisis, sustainability, and climate change are in the news, so people are well aware. There’s a sense now that they want to do something about it.” Loop already has a cleaning facility in Pennsylvania and a warehouse in New Jersey, which made New York a logical place to start. As the company scales, it selects cities within a 24-hour delivery range of both a cleaning facility and a warehouse, particularly for the frozen goods it provides. “We’ll add warehouses and cleaning facilities as we go, but that’s how the places were chosen,” Eric added. Loop will launch in the UK at the end of March, Toronto in June, and Japan towards the end of the year. Next will be Australia in 2021.       Customers receive their orders in a reusable tote and request a pick-up once items are empty. They’re then cleaned and refilled. Photos: Loop   The price of a Loop good is comparable to a regular one, plus a deposit for the packaging. Since it’s reusable, it becomes valuable. Take shampoo, for example. Before, you bought shampoo for its contents; once the bottle was empty, you would toss it. “In this instance, now the company owns the package and the package is an asset,” Eric said. “Customers put a deposit down on each pack. When that pack comes back, the deposit is returned to the consumer.” This deposit essentially sits in an account. You can opt to let it remain there as you continue to buy products through Loop; or, once you’re done, you can request the deposit back.   The brand owns the package, so they want that package back. This inherently makes the process a circular one, removing waste from the equation. While Loop is currently e-commerce only, “we will be in-store at some point in 2020 in the United States,” Eric explained. With retail partners like Kroger and Walgreens stateside, Carrefour in Paris and Loblaws in Canada, you might find a Loop aisle at a grocer near you. “The process will work virtually the same,” Eric said. “You’ll be able to bring your shipping tote into the store, where there will be an aisle with all the Loop products and packaging.” You shop, pay for the product, and bring it home, as you would any other pet food or ice cream pint. Then, as soon as you finish the pack, you bring it back. That store would then send it back to Loop to be cleaned, sanitized, refilled, and shipped back out to another consumer. In many ways, Loop seems like the future. But it draws on our current thinking and behavior — and a model that dates back to the 1950s. “When you finish your normal plastic shampoo, consumers are pretty accustomed at this point to dropping it in the blue bin. Now, as opposed to dropping that in that bin, you just drop it back into shipping tote.”   “We don’t want to change behavior. That becomes a much harder proposition.” Loop isn’t the first to discover the effectiveness of the pick-up/drop-off model. Remember the milkman? “We were seeing that model up until the 1950s when all of a sudden we turned to all of this disposable packaging for convenience. Obviously we’ve created so much waste that it’s no longer effective.   “The idea behind Loop is exactly that: it’s the milkman model where the brand owns the pack and we come collect it, sanitize it, and fill it again.” But instead of homogenous glass bottles, companies are investing in containers you want to show off. “One of the things we’re finding is that people appreciate and want these packs because they’re so pretty. Like the Pantene bottles: people want to leave them on a counter.” Loop has very specific specs companies need to adhere to when creating packaging. Aesthetics is “not a requirement, but it certainly is playing a role in how these are being designed.” Most importantly, they need to be durable, cleanable, and circular (by having an end-of-life solution). “It’s not necessarily material,” Eric said. “Plastic is not necessarily the demon, it’s the single-use that’s the problem. So these packs have to be durable.” “Häagen-Dazs, which has made an absolutely beautiful pack, had a whole R&D team develop it. We have designers at Loop who can help develop the packaging, but, depending on the size of the company, some are big enough to do it on their own.” Just how durable these containers are varies from company to company. “Obviously these containers are going to get banged up,” Eric said. “And it’s up to the company to determine when they want to take them out of circulation. When that time comes, the containers themselves are recyclable. They’ll be turned back into themselves by TerraCycle.” Eric said the company is working on a public-facing Life-Cycle Assessment, which will highlight the environmental benefits of these containers—transportation costs included—as opposed to single-use packaging that most often ends up in landfills. Ultimately, the dream would be to have a whole store filled with reusable product containers. “We would create an entirely circular economy,” he said. “There would be absolutely no waste. That is the ultimate goal.” TerraCycle’s next project with this goal in mind? ReDyper, a partnership in which parents send in soiled Dyper diapers to TerraCycle’s facility for composting. It was announced this week.  

Giant brands love Loop’s zero-waste packaging—and now it’s coming to a store near you

A year ago, a coalition of some of the world’s biggest brands embarked on an experiment: If they started selling everyday products like shampoo in reusable, returnable packaging instead of single-use plastic, would customers buy it? Could a modern version of the milkman model—where customers shop online, and then return empty containers via UPS to be cleaned and refilled for a new customer—make business sense? For brands, the new platform, called Loop, was a radical step to test fundamental changes to how they package and deliver products, driven by consumer pressure to deal with the problem of plastic pollution. The first pilots started in May 2019. The tests have been successful enough that the system is now rapidly expanding and will soon launch in retail stores. [Photo: courtesy Loop] “Companies are looking for new ways to address packaging and reduce waste, and consumers are demanding it,” says Steve Yeh, a project manager at Häagen-Dazs, the Nestlé-owned ice cream brand. The brand committed major resources to developing new packaging for the pilot: a novel stainless steel ice cream canister that’s designed to keep ice cream cold longer. It then can be sent back, sterilized in a state-of-the-art cleaning system, and reused. (It also looks a lot nicer on your counter.) The system is designed to be simple for consumers—in theory, nearly as easy as buying something in a disposable package and throwing that package in the trash. Online orders are delivered in a reusable tote, and when a customer has an empty container, it goes back in the tote, the customer schedules a pickup, the packages are returned for reuse, and the customer gets back a deposit that they paid for the package (or, if they’ve reordered the product, the deposit stays in an account and they don’t pay it again). Despite using heavier packages, more transportation, and cleaning, it has a lower carbon footprint than single-use packaging. And it keeps packages out of landfills and the ocean. “We all know that recycling alone will not be enough,” says Sara Wingstrand, who leads the innovation team at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, an organization focused on the circular economy. “This is a whole new way to actually think about how you can bring products to people.” [Photo: courtesy Loop] In Nestlé’s case, an internal team went through 15 iterations to reach the final design of the ice cream container, which has benefits beyond reducing waste. The package has a double metal lining, so it’s comfortable to hold, but keeps the ice cream inside from melting; it’s also designed to melt a little more quickly at the top, so it’s easier to scoop than it otherwise would be. Rounded edges mean that ice cream doesn’t get stuck in the bottom corners. And it looks better than a disposable package. The aesthetics, surprisingly, have been a bigger driver in the pilot’s success than the environmental benefits. “People actually are attracted to Loop first for design, second for reuse,” says Tom Szaky, CEO of Terracycle, the recycling company that first helped create the coalition of brands to test the platform, who is now also CEO of Loop. “The design is so important to consumers—more than I ever thought it would be.” It’s proof, he says, of what’s possible when the economics of packaging change. “If you go back 100 years and look at what your cookies came in or what your beer came in, it was a significantly greater investment in the package. As we make packaging lighter and cheaper, it becomes less recyclable, essentially growing the garbage crisis. And as we spend less money, [packages] clearly become less exciting and less desirable. The response to Loop is a simple one: Let’s shift ownership of the package in the end back to the manufacturer. And as such, they treat it as an asset and they can start investing in the pack again.” [Photo: courtesy Loop] The investment in the packages means that for the system to work, consumers have to put down a deposit for each container. In the pilot, Loop says that customers haven’t been sensitive to the price. “It’s not money out of your pocket,” says Donna Liu, a customer in New Jersey who has been using the system for several months. After the initial deposit, customers don’t have to pay again as they continue reordering the same products, and they can ultimately get the money back. But the deposits are steep, and would likely deter lower-income customers. In one review, a Huffington Post writer noted that she paid $32 in deposits for only six items (in addition to $20 in shipping, and the cost of the products themselves). Loop says it plans to have the costs come down as the system scales up. “Today, in small scale, it makes no economic sense because everything is inefficient in small scale,” says Szaky. “But a lot of our retail partners and our brand partners have modeled this in large scale. And it’s come out very exciting—it’s going to be able to be executed at scale and not cost the consumer more.” Wingstrand, who is not involved with Loop, notes that some other reusable models are already economically viable at scale, such as reusable water jugs delivered to offices. The e-commerce pilot has faced some challenges. Some customers complained about the small selection of products. Those who live in small apartments don’t like the bulky size of the reusable tote, which has enough padding inside to accommodate 16 wine bottles; one reviewer said that she was forced to use it as an ottoman until she was ready to send packages back. But moving to retail stores could help alleviate these issues. [Photo: courtesy Loop] Today, the online store has more than 150 products, including Tide detergent and Pantene shampoo in stainless steel containers, Nature’s Path granola in glass jars, and products from smaller brands like Reinberger Nut Butter. But that’s a tiny fraction of the hundreds of products online at, say, Walgreens, and one of the biggest questions from customers in the pilot has been when more products will be available. Szaky says that Loop is adding a new brand roughly every two days—but there’s a long development process for new packaging after a company joins. “This is not an overnight thing,” he says. “It takes maybe a year to get a product up and running.” In retail stores, though, customers can pick and choose which Loop products to use. “By the retailer listing in-store, the benefit to the consumer is they can go shop the Loop section, which will grow every day and get bigger and bigger, but whatever they don’t find in the Loop section they can still buy traditionally,” says Szaky. Customers can also avoid the hassle of shipping empty containers back and the size of the reusable tote; for retail returns, customers will toss containers in a reusable garbage bag and then bring them back to the store. It’s still designed to be simpler than traditional refill systems in stores—rather than cleaning and refilling your own container, you bring back dirty containers, drop them off, and buy already-packaged products on the shelf. As with online orders, you’ll pay a deposit on the container and then get it back when the container is returned. [Photo: courtesy Loop] The online pilot launched last May in and around Paris, New York City, and a few nearby areas; the startup has since added Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Vermont, and Rhode Island. It will soon expand to California as well as the U.K., Canada, Germany, and Japan, and will launch in Australia next year. Retail sales will begin later this year with Walgreens and Kroger in the U.S., Carrefour in France, Tesco in the U.K., and Loblaws in Canada. Loop won’t share specific numbers, but says that it’s seeing high numbers of repeat orders from its initial customers. The size of the pilot was limited, but more than 100,000 people applied. The startup envisions the model growing like organic food. “Every store started having a small section dedicated to organic products, but not all products had an organic alternative,” Szaky says. “That’s how it began, then it got bigger and bigger. And some stores like Costco have moved everything over to organic.” He notes that organic food still represents only about 5% of the market, and that has taken decades, but it’s a reasonable comparison. [Photo: courtesy Loop] The number of options will continue to grow. In a recent report, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimated that converting just 20% of plastic packaging to reusable models is now a $10 billion business opportunity. But Szazky sees it not as an opportunity, but an imperative. As he told Harvard Business Review in a recent interview: “I think that we’re going to see some organizations die because of this. Others will pivot. . . . 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.” [Photo: courtesy Loop] For the brands that are pivoting, Loop is helping push them to experiment with reusable packaging. Häagen-Dazs is already using the container it designed for the system in stores in New York City, where customers bring it back an average of 62% of the time. (At the ice cream shops, customers don’t pay a deposit, but buy the container outright and then get discounts on ice cream each time they bring it back.) It now plans to roll out the container in 200 of its other stores. Unilever—which has products from brands like Love Beauty and Planet on the platform and is preparing to launch more products from Seventh Generation, Hellman’s, Dove deodorant, and others this year—is also experimenting with in-store refill systems and partnering with startups like Algramo, a Chile-based company that offers a mobile refill system on electric tricycles. “I think Loop provides a really good platform to start testing reusable packaging without setting everything up yourself,” says Wingstrand. “But I do think it’s very important to go very broad and make sure that not only are you putting and testing new packaging formats on the Loop platform, but you’re also trying to understand how the user might interact with a refill system, or how you might supply things in a compact format, or how you might even completely design out the packaging.”

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

From New York, Tom Szaky dialog & oacute;  with Mundo PMMI and explained  the size that the platform has been charging. Loop is now a reality in nine states in the northeastern United States, Washington, and plans to grow more in that country, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom and Japan. In less than a year of operation, Loop , a circular purchasing platform for consumer products designed not to generate packaging waste - developed by Tom Szaky and his team - has had an undeniable receptivity on the part of several brand-owned companies and retail chains around the world; and it is increasingly welcomed and used by final consumers, who see it as an efficient way to contribute to the mitigation of the environmental impact of waste. (More about Loop in this article from Mundo PMMI). From New York, Tom Szaky spoke with Mundo PMMI and explained the dimension that the platform has been charging. He also referred to the challenges and priorities that have been established for its consolidation and strengthening in different countries and regions of the world, and its future in other regions of the globe. PMMI World: Some define Loop as one of the most disruptive advances in Circular Economy and packaging to date. What is the balance after these eight months after its launch and has it been proven whether our society is ready for Loop? Tom Szaky: Loop is an engine for producers to create reusable versions of their products and for retail chains to integrate those offers, both physically, in stores, and in their online sales. There are many ways to assess the success of Loop and one of them is the number of people who are joining the initiative, that is, how large this ecosystem is becoming. And I must say that since we opened we are adding a brand every two business days; The number of new revenues is astronomical, it grows very quickly with some medium-sized brands and startups , but also with many large companies. The same goes for retail companies, we are receiving a retail firm every three weeks. In fact, in March of this year we will be going out with Tesco in the United Kingdom, with the Loblaws food and pharmacy chain in Canada in June, in Japan in November, and also in Germany. Australia is also on its way. Another way to measure the success of Loop is the availability to consumers. I am very pleased to say that this year, both in the United States and in France, you can see the products in the physical stores of retailers and they will be able to return the containers to the store, which is very important to be able to take the model to great scale. Additionally, retail chains such as Carrefour are inserting Loop products into their e-commerce pages, and the cost will be associated with shipping and collection. This brings great operational challenges and is the result of trials conducted during 2019. In general, what we have seen is that consumers are responding very well to the Loop model, and this is the reason we will continue to grow. In summary, today we have around 200 brands and we are adding a brand every two days, we also have about 50 retailers and we are adding one every three weeks. PMMI World: What is Loop's biggest challenge today?  Tom Szaky: Our biggest challenge and priority is to make Loop feel as “disposable” as possible, that is to say that the consumer lives the experience of feeling like on a platform exactly the same as what he experiences when he consumes a disposable product. One of the things that people have told us in the first presentations, and one of the main challenges, is that they would like to see more and more Loop products available in the market. In the beginning the products were only obtained online and the user bought them by this means; Now, through the retail chains, it is possible to find the products in the stores, which allows the buyer to acquire both the Loop products and the others that he usually buys. This is why it is important that the product feels disposable but works towards the consumer as reusable. This is what leads us to focus on the disposable experience, because that is what the user is looking for. Loop is a circular purchase platform for mass consumption products designed not to generate packaging waste, developed by Tom Szaky and his team.   Loop is a circular buying platform for mass consumption products designed not to generate packaging waste, developed by Tom Szaky and his team.   PMMI World: The difference between the generation of millennials and the most senior generates an impact? Is it possible that it is easier to convince a millennial to buy through Loop than a Baby Boomer?   Tom Szaky: It's an interesting approach, but I don't share it. I think millennials join an initiative like Loop because they are tired of garbage; They have lived their entire lives using disposables and want to get out of that and do something different. But, in the case of a Baby Boomers or the parents of a millennial , the experience is very familiar, since that way the purchases worked before. Loop returns them to their childhood where there was no garbage, this is why an interest is generated for them, and for these reasons arouses emotion in both generations. PMMI World: What is Loop's biggest opportunity today? Tom Szaky: The main focus is to attract a large number of fast-moving consumer products and many retail chains that sell their products on the platform. Secondly, it is reaching fast food restaurants, and then there would be the clothing sector. PMMI World: How is Loop attracting fast food companies? Tom Szaky: We are now working with one of the largest fast food brands in the world, developing a type of reusable potato chip packaging, so that when ordering the customer can choose the reusable option and get an aesthetically pleasing packaging , beautiful, that works under the same method. PMMI World: What has been the main reason why TerraCycle has managed to convince big brands like Nestlé, Unilever, Pepsico, Danone - to name a few - to join and be part of Loop? Tom Szaky: I think that basically there have been two factors, which occurred simultaneously: the moment and the immense capacity that Loop offers to innovate and turn products into something exciting, with aesthetically beautiful packaging, that work. Those two factors together have been tremendously important for the development we are seeing today for Loop. PMMI World: What could you say about the innovations that Loop has encouraged in the design of reusable packaging?   Tom Szaky: I think consumers want to have the feeling and experience of disposable. The important thing about returning ownership of the container to the manufacturing company is that it becomes an asset, and being an asset manufacturers can make more significant investments in it. Loop gave brands and their designers the ability to achieve in the packaging aspects that they had always wanted to do and that the system had not allowed them basically due to cost factors. PMMI World: What is the power of the packaging reusability model? Tom Szaky: Reusability is an idea that everyone understands; Children today understand packaging more than its contents, they know that garbage is wrong and that recycling is fine, although they cannot explain anything about palm oil, or climate change. PMMI World: How was the task of convincing the consumer that reusability is possible? Tom Szaky: I think showing them that it works; Initially the consumer doubts, and once they see it in operation, everyone believes: none of this is new, this is how it was done around the 1930s. It is not impossible to sell this concept, it is simply to refresh an old idea. PMMI World: Could you mention any statistics that reflect the impact of the reusability model on packaging in terms of carbon footprint reduction? Tom Szaky: This depends on the packaging, of course. Statistically, around the first three years, the impact is equal to that of the disposable model. In the first use, the reuse is worse than in the case of the disposable; at all three uses it is the same; at five uses it is 15% better than waste; and in the tenth use it is 75% better. These are statistics of our allies and Loop, which we have also obtained through life cycle analysis, LCA. PMMI World: Infrastructure has been a very important challenge for you. Tom Szaky: Yes it has been a great challenge, but not the greatest. We are now present in France, in the United States, we are going to inaugurate Loop in the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and Germany this year. We have very good infrastructure partners and with very good capital, so this has been a setback, but it is not an issue that cannot be overcome. PMMI World: What is the next step in the global expansion of Loop? Do you contemplate the possibility of being in Latin America soon? Tom Szaky: We are looking to enter Latin America, in Brazil we have been with TerraCycle for many years and we believe that by 2021 we will be there, with the Loop model. PMMI World: Having a reusable product means that it has an important value that exceeds the value of disposables, if the brands gave a value to the single-use container, do you think this would promote collection and recycling? Tom Szaky: Yes, definitely. The more value a single-use container is given, the greater its recyclability. PMMI World: TerraCycle has been recognized for recycling difficult materials. Do you think that migrating to reusability can affect recyclability? Tom Szaky: TerraCycle is growing very fast, we had an organic growth of 30% this year. The two initiatives are growing and have different roles; I believe that reusability has a projection towards the future and recyclability is more related to what we are doing in the present. The main focus on the production of disposable packaging is to make them as economical as possible, and when the packaging is cheaper the overall cost is reduced and it ends with a more complex packaging in terms of material, as in the case of multilayer. In my opinion that is the biggest problem, that the main objective of the brands, which is to reduce costs, goes in reverse of the recyclability of the packaging. PMMI World: How do you see the future? What is the greatest contribution that could be made to mitigate the impact of waste? Tom Szaky: For us it's about creating more reusable alternatives for the products and making them more available for more retailers to distribute. Our way of calculating success is by measuring how much users migrate from single-use containers to multi-use products and packages. That is our goal in general.

TerraCycle Canada is Eliminating the Idea of Waste® in 2020

TerraCycle Canada is Eliminating the Idea of Waste® in 2020

Written by Tom Szaky - TerraCycle CEO & Founder

The single best thing to come out of the recent environmental movement is that the global waste problem has risen to the top of people’s minds. The world is waking up to the fact that most of our public recycling is not actually being recycled, and “single-use” was one dictionary’s Word of the Year in 2018. People are thinking about the things they buy as having a direct impact on the planet, and companies and governments are responding accordingly. Canada last year hit a milestone of joining what The New York Times called “a growing global movement” with the announcement of its single-use plastics ban. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country would follow the lead of the European Union with a vote to ban items, such as plastic cutlery and cotton-swab sticks, that often end up littered in waterways. With a current “at best” estimate for plastics recycled in Canada holding at only 10%, this legislation is a key step in a good direction. But as with any initiative, capturing all the factors for success will require input from manufacturers, retailers, all levels of government and the public.  
My company TerraCycle is on a mission to eliminate waste through collaboration with each of these stakeholders, tackling the issue from many angles. For one, we have found that nearly everything we touch can be recycled. While due to matters of economics the global recycling industry continues to fall behind, our R&D team has found ways to turn everything from cigarette butts, beach plastic, even dirty diapers into a format that can be used to make new items.  
Through sponsorship with leading consumer brands and retailers, we have been able to work around the limitations of the curbside systems to collect typically non-recyclable items through national, first-of-their-kind recycling programs. In the past year, we launched the country’s first recycling programs for razors and cannabis packaging (coinciding with legalization). For items that don’t have a brand sponsor, TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Box system allows households and businesses to recycle everything from coffee capsules, to laboratory disposables, to the entire contents of one’s bathroom. Conferences and large events, municipal buildings, schools, and other places where people gather use them to reduce the plastics they send to landfill.  
Our growth and continued expansion in 21 countries has been incredibly rewarding to cultivate and witness, but TerraCycle Canada in particular holds a special place to me. Not only is it the first foreign office opened after our US headquarters, it is where I grew up as a Canadian citizen after my family emigrated from Hungary. It’s where we had our first wins for the worm poop business in the company’s beginnings, and the first country we launched cigarette recycling.  
All over the world, leading companies work with us to take hard-to-recycle materials, such as ocean plastic, and turn them into new products. We’ve so far diverted millions of pounds of valuable resources from landfills all over the world, and we’re just getting started. Our new Loop platform aims to change the way the world shops with favorite brands through refillable packaging offered with convenience and style. Launching in Canada in May, food, beverages, and other household items from trusted brands will be offered in containers made with metal alloys, durable glass, and engineered plastics. We teamed up with Loblaw Companies Limited, Canada’s leading food and pharmacy leader, to be our exclusive retail partner.
Consumers in the pilot region of Toronto who want to sign up for Loop are encouraged to visit www.buydurable.com to leave their contact information so they can be notified when Loop officially launches and apply to become a participant. TerraCycle is eliminating the idea of waste in many ways all over the world, but I’m really proud of the success we’ve had in Canada. We look forward to a future of a cleaner, greener Canada, and the opportunity to work with all parties to create a model for sustainability that makes sense for all.

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

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

Beyond plastic: How Ontario retailers are ditching single-use packaging

A growing number of businesses in the province are doing away with oh-so-easy disposable packaging — and trying to promote a waste-free culture plastic food containers You may already use a refillable bottle for your water and a travel mug for your coffee. The move toward sustainable packaging in Ontario means that you can now also use your own container for kombucha. That’s because Vitaly, on Queen Street West in Toronto, lets you serve yourself from kegs. If you don’t have a bottle to hand, you can buy a glass one for $5. Station Cold Brew, the company behind the concept, is calling this Toronto’s first package-free beverage shop. It’s just one of a growing number of companies trying to figure out what zero waste looks like on the ground. “We work in the beverage industry, so we’re really aware of the issues around single-use packaging,” says Steve Ballantyne, founder and CEO of Station Cold Brew. While the company sells most of its cold coffee products in cans and bottles, since 2014, it has delivered kegs of brew to offices — employees use their own bottles and mugs. More recently, it set up self-serve kegs at the 10 locations of Goodness Me! natural-food stores, which offer customers glass bottles for a refundable deposit. “This was a natural extension of what was already going on,” says Ballantyne. The Queen iteration is called Compound Café — Vitaly will be rebranding its Queen location as Compound in the coming weeks — and is kitted up with six taps serving such beverages as iced tea, cold brew with tonic, and flavoured kombucha, all made by Toronto-area brands. (Moving forward, drink kiosks run by Station Cold Brew will be called Craft on Draft.) It’s all part of a larger effort to cut down on what we throw out — and Ontarians throw out a lot. As Matt Gurney noted in a recent TVO.org series, the province generated 9,475,472 tonnes of non-hazardous waste in 2016. The federal government has announced its intention to take action on single-use plastics: Canada will ban them as early as 2021. And, in Ontario, Bill 82 — which “identifies measurable targets and sets out timelines for the immediate reduction and eventual elimination of the distribution and supply of single-use plastics in Ontario and that requires the immediate elimination of certain single-use plastics” — passed first reading in March. But just how consumers will manage a transition to waste-free culture remains to be seen. That’s why companies are testing out new approaches that could prove that, even without oh-so-easy disposable packaging, products can be convenient. “What we’re trying to do is create a service that closely mirrors the single-use experience,” says Anthony Rossi, vice-president of global business development for New Jersey-based TerraCycle. The company is partnering with Loblaws to offer a service, called Loop, to Toronto-area customers in early 2020. Loop resembles a teched-up version of the old milkman system: customers go online to buy name-brand products that are then delivered to their doors in reusable packaging. When they’re finished the shampoo, ice cream, or dishwasher pellets, they leave the empty container out for pick-up and order more. TerraCycle offers about 150 products at the moment and works as a go-between to handle orders, delivery, and cleaning. Since May, Loop has been operating in the Greater Paris area and in the northeastern United States. The company capped its customer base at 5,000 in each market and now has wait-lists “in the tens, almost hundreds of thousands,” says Rossi. “They love the packaging. They love the e-commerce mode. They love the convenience. We’re even reaching customers who aren’t motivated by environmental reasons.” Ontario has also seen a stream of bulk-style food stores operations open up, including Nu Grocery in Ottawa and Unboxed Market in Toronto. At Zero Waste Bulk in Waterloo, owner Ellin Park says she sells about 1,000 products, many of them local. The 1,900-square-foot location opened last December, and sales have been “better than expected,” says Park. While the store offers some containers, such as washed yoghurt tubs donated by customers — a form of upcycling — and sells paper bags, patrons have been showing up prepared. “People are really good at bringing their own containers, and they bring their own bags, too,” says Park. “Since we’ve been open, we’ve sold less than 50 paper bags.” Indeed, customer demand is a big driver for these new approaches to selling consumer products. According to a June study from Dalhousie University, 93.7 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they are personally motivated to reduce single-use plastic food packaging. Ballantyne says he’s been heartened to find that other beverage companies are eager to give the package-free approach a try. Over the past few months, he and his partners asked seven companies to work with them on the project. “No one said no. It points to this concept having legs,” he says. Park, though, notes that she has had challenges finding the right products for her shelves. “Some are really eager, some are already doing it, and some are, like, no,” she says of suppliers’ reactions to her zero-waste requests. She does think her store opened at the right time, as companies are increasingly innovating and offering new product lines. For example, she stocks — and uses — shampoo in bar form. And she keeps an eye out for new products, such as laundry strips, that could lend themselves to package-free bulk. Much of the waste in retail happens out of the public eye. “We’re trying to reduce waste behind the scenes,” says Park. She’s negotiated with her suppliers to send her products in plastic containers that can be washed and used again for the next shipment. Some companies already have systems in place to keep waste to a minimum: Beyond Meat, for instance, sells her plant-based burger patties in large, recyclable bags. Ballantyne has become increasingly careful about back-room waste at his company. The stainless-steel kegs he uses can be washed and reused. The kombucha, though, comes in a single-use plastic keg, because even a drop of fermentable product left after washing could affect the next batch. Steven Young, associate professor in the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development at the University of Waterloo, says it’s important to pay attention to the supply side. Free municipal-waste recycling and composting programs serve only residences. Factories, shippers, construction companies, large retailers, and hospitals must pay to get rid of their waste — and most send their garbage, plastic, metals, paper products, and food waste straight to landfills. “That’s the cheapest thing to do,” says Young, adding that, to change that, governments will need to incentivize waste diversion from the business sector. “If we can get into habits of reduction and reuse, this is a good thing,” he says. “The more zero-waste stores there are, the more demand there will be,” Park says. “So there will be more options.” Ballantyne believes that the move to a less packaged consumer culture must necessarily involve new ideas and experiments. “Right now, single-use packaging feels like a necessary evil,” he says. “We have to pilot new things.”