Posts with term Loop X

Parade launches free recycling program in the US

Published Jan. 18, 2022

Dive Brief:

  • Direct-to-consumer underwear brand Parade expanded its sustainability efforts Tuesday by launching the first free recycling program for its category in the U.S., according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
  • Through the new initiative, called Second Life by Parade, consumers can return as many pairs of gently used underwear as they want from any brand in exchange for a 20% Parade credit. To do so, they can request a Second Life by Parade package through the brand's website and receive a complimentary biodegradable bag and prepaid shipping label.
  • Second Life by Parade aims to limit individuals' carbon footprint. Parade partnered with waste management firm TerraCycle for the initiative.

    Dive Insight:

    Parade joins several retailers in launching its own recycling program as pressure from both consumers and investors mount. Ulta, for instance, teamed up with Loop (a division of TerraCycle) last year on refillable packaging. Meanwhile, shaving brand Schick unveiled its first fully recyclable razor in March. Last year, Nike also launched its refurbishment program, which accepts returns for gently worn, like-new or imperfect shoes to be refurbished and resold at 15 stores. In Parade's program, all returned items will be recycled into new products such as insulation, furniture and bedding. "This launch provides consumers with the opportunity to responsibly recycle their used intimate apparel and ensure that it is diverted from the landfill," TerraCycle CEO and founder, Tom Szaky, said in a statement. "Together with Parade we are providing an end-to-end recycling program that will make it easier for consumers to mitigate their carbon footprint and have a positive impact on the environment for future generations." Parade is on its way to being carbon positive by 2025, per the release. The company also said it is the first intimates brand that has committed to climate action organization Science Based Targets Initiative to reduce its emissions. Parade's products are currently made from recycled fabrics and shipped using packaging that is recycled and recyclable. "We already create products out of sustainable materials, but we know that's only part of the challenge," Kerry Steib, head of impact and communications at Parade, said in a statement. "Second Life by Parade will help address the category's end-of-life problem by repurposing fabrics without using virgin materials."
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Tupperware creates reusable packaging for restaurants

Tupperware designed and produced a one-of-a-kind reusable packaging container option for Tim Hortons – one of Loop’s brand partners. The reusable container was created by Tupperware to package Tim Hortons food menu items as part of a pilot program at select locations across Burlington, Ontario. The reusable containers will be available as part of the Loop program on-site at participating Tim Hortons restaurant locations starting today. Aimed at reducing packaging waste through a circular recycling system, Tupperware is able to bring its decades of knowledge in product design and reusability to contribute to the circular recycling model. Tupperware, a 75-year old company, has deep experience and knowledge in engineered resin and sustainable plastics technology. The test pilot with Tim Hortons is Tupperware's first foray into the market as a part of its partnership with TerraCycle's Loop, and will advance Tupperware's No Time to Waste initiative to significantly reduce single-use plastic and food waste.

How implementing reuse systems can impact cities

By Tom Szaky December 10, 2021
Image via Iryna Inshyna on Shutterstock
Humankind itself doesn’t cause climate change. Rather, it’s the way it relates to nature. Indigenous practices, for example, have long sustained balance between human development and nature’s activities. However, on the road to industrialization, advancements that increased productivity disrupted that balance, including many linear (take-make-waste) practices that drive climate change. With the urbanization and the formation of cities, demands on these improved systems only increased. The breakthroughs in mass production, material sourcing and transportation that significantly and efficiently cut the time, money and human labor needed to produce and distribute goods allowed for wide and surged consumption of commodity items. This came to a head in the 1950s, when the appetite for convenience, lowered costs and a culture of consumerism really took off. When single-use and disposability (specifically of plastic, a synthetic material nature cannot absorb) exploded to enable fast-moving, on-the-go lifestyles, recycling and reintegration of material did not keep pace. As a result, about 8 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s, and more than 300 million tons are produced each year. At best, 9 percent of all plastic ever made has been recycled. The rest has been landfilled, incinerated or littered; these practices generate billions of tons of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Cities, with growing populations and demands on resources, exacerbate the waste crisis and may be a key focus area to help change course away. Cities occupy just 3 percent of the Earth’s surface but house more than half of the world’s population, consume over 75 percent of global resources, and generate 60 to 80 percent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. Urbanization is only increasing, with 70 percent of the global population expected to live in cities by 2050.  
Cities, with growing populations and demands on resources, exacerbate the waste crisis and may be a key focus area to help change course away.
With this, cities are also at the forefront of suffering from its scale. Waste management systems fail to meet need in developed and underdeveloped markets alike, overwhelmed by cost and insufficient infrastructure. Public health and safety are huge issues where this is especially lacking, contributing to the ongoing impacts on air, water, soil and overall quality of life for residents. Reuse and durability-based systems may provide unexplored pathways to address these challenges with positive economics; reuse systems are estimated to present a $10 billion business opportunity if only 20 percent of single-use packaging today were converted, creating jobs, cutting costs of managing waste and litter and driving value with new revenue streams. Where business goes, change tends to come, but strong support from city functions is essential to driving reuse forward. For example, the Tokyo Metro Government (TMG) was absolutely instrumental to the successful launches and expansions for our Loop reuse platform in Japan. Involved in promotion at the early stages, the city helped fund pilot testing and consumer surveys in our reusable bento lunch containers project. With their own commitments to circular economy and waste reduction targets, TMG aligns business with the environment, and is even attracted to the fact that our platform engages competing brands. Building upon the existing long-term relationship with TerraCycle Japan through recycling programs with municipalities and schools, the clear and consistent support from the start afforded credibility and footing for the platform in a new market. As the governor of the city of Tokyo stated in a recent press conference, "Large cities in developed countries such as Tokyo can make a significant impact on the global economy by playing a leading role," noting reuse was standard in the region for glass bottles for beer, sake and more just 30 years ago. Cities are complex ecosystems in themselves, so a "buy anywhere, return anywhere" ecosystem for reusables that makes it easy for consumers to access, businesses to sell and cities to benefit from is as much a feat of design as a reimagined container or durable package. This is a top priority for Loop as we expand to new markets and optimize our offerings. Today for grocery we have Aeon in Japan, Tesco in the United Kingdom, Carrefour in France and Walgreens and Kroger’s Fred Meyer banner coming soon in the United States, and the biggest names in QSR (quick service restaurant): McDonald’s was the first to pilot the model in select stores in the U.K., followed by Tim Horton’s in Canada, then Burger King in several countries in the coming months. With so much ground still to break (reuse exists today across the modern economy, but the models are incompatible — think beverages in Germany to propane tanks in the U.S.), recommendations and guardrails for cities can help minimize risk, maximize short-term returns and steer the way for scaled, widespread adoption and impact for reuse. Collaborative working frameworks for a fully implemented reuse system — this is the purpose of the World Economic Forum Consumers Beyond Waste (CBW) initiative’s community papers, released in conjunction with the World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Impact Summit during U.N. General Assembly week earlier this year.  
Cities have policy (regulation), infrastructure and procurement resources they can use to engage the public and incentivize actions that benefit reuse.
Featuring Design GuidelinesSafety Guidelines and The City Playbook, the documents offer a holistic view for reuse in different environments, and are authored by a variety of stakeholders for a less wasteful future. I am one of them, along with city officials, retailers and many more leaders from the public and private sector. Enabling manufacturers to produce reusables that can be sold at any retailer for a consumer to buy and return anywhere — safely, affordably and conveniently — in their local cities requires support from those cities. Cities have policy (regulation), infrastructure and procurement resources they can use to engage the public and incentivize actions that benefit reuse. It’s the consensus of the above papers that some of the greatest challenges cities face are funding, infrastructure and institutional barriers, so pushing initiatives through must include answering big questions about viability and benefit. Who is reuse good for, in the long and short term, and how do we protect our citizens and commerce during the learning periods? This is key for continued development of standards for cities that are socially equitable and environmentally positive, and help to align their activities with the global ecosystem.

Scaling Reuse Must Include Consensus on Safety, Design, Considerations for Cities

Cities are complex ecosystems that both exacerbate and suffer from the scale of packaging waste. Standards for key areas of design, safety and city programming minimize risk, drive collaboration and provide trustworthy information for stewarding game-changing reuse strategies.
Our society has a longstanding relationship with and dependency on single-use products. Businesses and consumers alike are accustomed to its virtues of cost and convenience, making everyday items accessible to more people than ever before. But because of this reliance and focus on a system that takes, makes and wastes products after one use, few guidelines or blueprints for viable, sustainable alternatives — including reuse — exist in a usable format. Reuse models are growing across the modern economy, but they are fragmented such that they cannot achieve impact of scale. Without foundational guidelines to drive collaboration, standardization and defining of best practices, it would be near-impossible for new and emerging reuse models to effectively implement or accelerate for impact. But there’s a case for doing so. Reuse systems can reduce plastic pollution and greenhouse gas emissions; and they are estimated to present a $10 billion business opportunity if only 20 percent of single-use packaging today were converted to reuse. So, how do we ensure everyone gets what they need out of their products — without the waste? Many would argue that ending packaging waste begins with design. Modern packages are lightweight, inexpensive and high-function (the world is used to the spouts, resealable closures, and easy-open tops of single-use containers), and literally designed to go in the trash. Defining the specifications of a package that can be physically and systematically reused is one of the first things to do. Then, determining exactly how many times said package can be cycled around (including collection, cleaning and refilling for the next person to enjoy) before it comes out superior to single-use demonstrates the value. The fewer times, the better; but a recommendation from an industry expert or experienced practitioner in the space can help businesses at different stages in their journey consider how and when reuse will work for them. There are a lot of ideas and concepts out there; but with so much work to do in solving single-use plastic waste, clear and consistent guardrails for reuse will steer the way for scaled, widespread adoption and impact. This is the purpose of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Consumers Beyond Waste (CBW) initiative’s community papers, released in conjunction with the WEF’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit during UN General Assembly week earlier this year. Featuring Design GuidelinesSafety Guidelines and The City Playbook, the documents are authored by a variety of contributors with a stake in the race to a less wasteful world; I am one of them — along with city officials, quality-assurance experts, retailers and many more leaders from the public and private sector. The papers offer a holistic view for reuse in different environments, as well as the different entry points for stakeholders along the supply chain. Offering recommendations based on experience, Loop has our own design guidelines for brands and manufacturers entering the platform — we recommend a product be able to withstand a minimum of 10 reuse cycles to qualify, and be recyclable into itself at the end of its life. Through this approach we have seen tremendous innovation, not just in sustainability but also in packaging design. Through reverse logistics, it’s possible to recover durable packaging forms in combinations of materials that improve functionality above and beyond the convenience of many single-use packages, such as a resealable food container or spring-loaded soap pump. Designing for reuse also includes the architecture of the systems packages flow through. Where Loop is a coalition of major consumer product companies and leading retailers working with trusted vendors to transport, clean, store and refill containers, it's a matter of front and backend design to enable a manufacturer to produce reusables that can be sold at any retailer for a consumer to buy and return anywhere, safely and conveniently. Where today’s largest scaled reuse model is pre-fill, which allows the consumer to buy filled products on a store shelf and return the empties into a bin (think beverages in Germany or propane tanks in the US), the challenge is that the models are incompatible: Empty propane tanks cannot be returned to the same location as an empty beer keg, and vice versa. Creating a “buy anywhere, return anywhere” ecosystem for reusables will make it easy for consumers to access, and businesses to sell. This, too, is a feat of design. Residents in Loop markets can now enter their favorite retailers and find a part of the store dedicated to reuse. With purchase, a deposit is paid, which is refunded in full upon return to any Loop retailer, putting this “waste” into a designated reuse bin versus a trash can or recycling bin. Just before the community papers I mentioned earlier, CBW released the Future of Reusable Consumption Models report, which outlined aspects of a “successful, large-scale, system-wide reuse paradigm.” One of these is consumer experience, where people have access to a variety of reusables that can compete with disposables on a number of scales, including convenience. People purchase consumables in a variety of settings, so it's important they have access to a variety of experiences. For grocery, we have Tesco in the UK; Carrefour in France; Aeon in Japan; and Walgreens and Kroger’s Fred Meyer banner coming soon in the US; and the biggest names in QSR (quick service restaurant): McDonald’s was the first to pilot the model in select stores in the UK, with Tim Horton’s in Canada and Burger King in several countries to follow. Which brings us to the matter of public health and safety, which have a great deal to do with packaging and systems design. Consumers need to know a system that circulates containers is safe and sanitary. Different product categories have different health and safety requirements — the food and beverage industry tends to have stricter standards than body care and cosmetics, for example. Packaging durability is a huge factor in designing for safety, as it impacts cleaning processes, degradation, and consumer safety and ease of use. If a package is cleaned 10 times at a certain temperature, materials must not prematurely degrade aesthetically or functionally; and if the type of material is one that might break with the consumer or along the route, design or logistics must allow it to do so safely; communications can support proper handling and education. Government plays a role in overseeing regulations for public health. As the Governor of the City of Tokyo stated in Loop and the World Economic Forum’s recent United Nations week press conference, “Large cities in developed countries, such as Tokyo, can make a significant impact on the global economy by playing a leading role,” noting reuse was standard in the region for glass bottles for beer, sake and more just 30 years ago. Cities are complex ecosystems that both exacerbate and suffer from the scale of the waste crisis. In the City Playbook, CBW notes some of the greatest challenges cities face are funding, infrastructure and institutional barriers; so, the consensus to pushing initiatives through includes seeking ways to answer big questions about viability and benefit. This is key to developing a roadmap for cities that is socially equitable, environmentally positive and safe. Examples of actions cities might take for the short term include aligning reuse with existing objectives (i.e. job creation and economic development) or testing reusables for city government administration (i.e. food service and cafeteria for public buildings), so as to engage policymakers, NGOs, local businesses, media, residents and the many other internal and external stakeholders towards the vision for a circular city. Points of consensus are milestones in the journey out of the waste crisis. Agreement on key areas of design, safety and city programming minimizes risk, drives collaboration and provides changemakers trustworthy information for stewarding reuse strategies and program development within organizations. There’s so much room for innovation; but to bring them to scale, actors must come together over a shared vision, with the resources to back it up.

The Future of Food Shopping Might Be Plastic-Free

A new partnership between the nation’s largest grocery chain and a reusable packaging company could be a sign that waste-reduction efforts are finally moving past the pandemic-induced plastics boom. image.png
Two years ago, efforts to kick the country’s plastic addiction were on fire. Municipalities around the country were implementing plastic bag taxes, while mainstream shoppers embraced reusable grocery bags and flocked to the bulk aisles for foods like beans and nuts.
However, all that came to a halt when stopping the spread of COVID-19 became the country’s top priority. Almost overnight, grocery stores closed their bulk-shopping sections, coffee shops stopped filling reusable coffee mugs, and individually wrapped everything took center stage. Now, signs are emerging that the fight against plastic is getting back on track. One of the most notable of those signs came from Kroger last month, when the nation’s largest grocery chain announced it was expanding an online trial with Loop, an online platform for refillable packaging, to 25 Fred Meyer store locations in Portland, Oregon. While consumer reuse models “got punched in the face” by the pandemic, Loop’s Tom Szaky said the demand is still there, and mainstream grocery stores are going to need to find a way to meet it. Kroger plans to offer a separate Loop aisle in these stores. The products, which will include a mix of items in food and other categories, can be bought in glass containers or aluminum boxes. When they’re empty, customers return the containers to the store to be cleaned and used again. Originally scheduled for this fall, the launch has been postponed to early 2022 because of supply chain challenges, but a spokesperson said they will continue to work with their brand partners to consider items that can be added to expand the program over time. The partnership is a heartening sign after a tough year, said Tom Szaky, CEO and founder of TerraCycle, the company behind the Loop initiative. “Overall, I was very worried that the pandemic would shift the conversation away from waste,” Szaky told Civil Eats. “It didn’t slow down. In fact, the environmental movement’s only gotten stronger.” While consumer reuse models—reusable grocery bags, refillable coffee mugs—“got punched in the face,” he said, it was mainly because retailers stopped allowing them for safety reasons. And while Loop’s growth was slowed by the pandemic, it was for the same factors that upended many companies’ plans—not because interest was drying out, said Szaky. The demand is still there, he adds, and he’s bullish on the idea that mainstream grocery stores are going to need to find a way to meet it. The Kroger–Loop partnership could be the first true test of this theory. It’s the latest in a steady string of new partnerships for Loop, but until now all of the company’s U.S. packaging partners have been in other categories, such as cosmetics and cleaning products. Loop does work with a number of food companies outside the country, including Woolworths in New Zealand, Tesco in the U.K., Aeon in Japan, and Carrefour in France. Szaky says they’re also working with a grocery store in France to bring reusable packaging to fish and meat. Loop, which also works with Walgreens in the U.S. and fast food chains McDonald’s, Burger King, and Canada-based Tim Hortons, expects nearly 200 stores and restaurants worldwide to be selling products in reusable packages by the first quarter of 2022, according to the Associated Press, up from a dozen stores in Paris at the end of last year. Some experts in the space are convinced that more will follow. “It’s just a matter of time before other companies come on board,” says Colleen Henn, founder of All Good Goods, a plastic-free pantry subscription business based in San Clemente, California that sells food in reusable glass jars and paper bags. “Once somebody does it, people start to see, ‘Oh, avoiding single-use plastic is] not that complicated.’ Because it’s really not.” She would know. Henn didn’t spend the last year adapting her business; she first launched her seemingly improbable business model during—and really because of—the pandemic. She had grown frustrated that the country’s waste-reduction initiatives were falling by the wayside. “I went online and tried to find a store that shipped food to your door without plastic, and I couldn’t find it. So I created it,” said Henn. All Good Goods specializes in pantry goods like beans and pasta, nuts and dried fruit, and growth has been strong and steady since the launch. She increasingly fields phone calls from other stores looking for advice on how to avoid plastic in their operations, and as she engages with more companies, she’s optimistic that she will have a trickle-up effect within the industry. “I reach out to brands [we’re considering carrying] and see what their wholesale options are; if they’re not paper-based, if they’re not backyard-biodegradable, we move on,” said Henn. image.png“My theory is that I’m doing my job in telling big companies that this is what consumers want. We’re just a drop in the bucket, I fully acknowledge that, but we’re doing our part to communicate this need and this want from consumers,” she said. “We’re constantly urging bigger food brands to offer a bulk wholesale option.” The growth in concern from customers—driven largely by the increase in public awareness of the world’s waste crisis and plastic’s long-term impacts like microplastic pollution in the oceans, in addition to mounting evidence about health impacts from substances like phthalates and bisphenols that can leach from plastic into food—is clear. In 2019, Trader Joe’s announced that it would reduce plastic in its stores. Now, according to the sustainability page on the national chain’s website, the packaging for more than 150 products in store now uses more recycled or “sustainably sourced materials,” or have fewer excess components. A spokesperson for the store also told Civil Eats that “customers can expect an update sometime in early 2022.” Whole Foods Market, which some expect to lead the industry on waste reduction given its positioning on sustainability, declined an interview for this story. But a spokesperson said the retailer has launched a reusable container pilot in response to customer interest. In two stores in Boulder, Colorado, the spokesperson said customers can pay a deposit for a reusable glass container, fill it with prepared or bulk foods, and return the container after use for the store to inspect, clean and sanitize. (Whole Foods also piloted a reusable container program in San Rafael, California, in 2019, but that has since ended.)
When Whole Foods stopped using disposable plastic grocery bags in 2008, the company was a national leader among national grocery chains. However, it continues to use plastic bags and packaging within the store for foods like produce and meat. The company spokesperson said they have reduced the waste footprint of those items but declined to say whether those efforts have reduced the company’s total plastic footprint. The grocer may have also introduced plastic in new places throughout the store in recent years, such as the safety seal on some yogurt containers, which was transitioned from foil to plastic, but the spokesperson would not comment, nor would they say whether there are plans to scale the pilot or implement any other reusable systems in the future. Jerusha Klemperer, director of FoodPrint, a non-profit dedicated to research and education on food production practices, reflected on the shift from companies like Trader Joe’s, and the consumer pressure on companies like Whole Foods. “The only reason [companies like] Trader Joe’s would make that commitment is that they heard customers complaining. I do think there’s evidence that people want more of this—but they have to see it offered, and they can’t have to work extra hard to make it happen.” That is the philosophy that Szaky has applied to Loop, and what makes the Kroger announcement so significant. By designing refillable systems to resemble the traditional shopping experience as closely as possible, proponents say, they are more likely to attract more customers to sign on. “It’s exciting because it marks the first major step as retailers take the reins. It also is a really conducive way to do reuse. Customers can go to Kroger, buy a product, and on their next trip drop off the empties,” said Szaky. “For reuse to grow, it has to be as convenient as disposable;  customers need to be able to buy it anywhere and return anywhere. The more robust and developed that network is, the stronger it becomes.” Plastic-free vs. Waste-free
Loop’s expansion, while noteworthy for waste reduction advocates, points to some underlying questions that companies, consumers, and regulators still need to grapple with. Loop itself does not design packaging options. It leaves that to the companies making the products, and steps in to approve specific packaging types for durability once they’ve been developed (and it does offer some hand-holding for that process). Loop’s lineup includes a lot of glass and aluminum, but it also includes plastic packaging at a time when many scientists and environmentalists have grown increasingly vocal about the need to shift away from plastic entirely.
“It’s not, to me, about plastic or no plastic. It’s about the role of recycling, degradability, reuse—and it’s the systems we need to look at, not necessarily what’s at play on top of the systems,” he said. “So many companies are interested in compostable packaging, but the thing that no one’s solving for is that most [municipal composters] don’t want them.”
Compostable packages aren’t a great solution on the production side either, if they’re made from plants grown in industrial monocrop systems like corn, said Klemperer. Many types of paper-based packaging have their own problems, such as being lined with PFAS or associated with deforestation. More fundamentally, all of these replacements perpetuate disposable culture and do little to encourage behavior change, which experts say is the only real solution. Fortunately, Klemperer thinks that where traction is gaining most is in refillable packaging. Where she would also like to see rapid action across the industry, she said, is in the reduction of excess packaging—produce pre-packaged on Styrofoam trays wrapped in plastic, for example. “It seems like there are certain products where eliminating packaging would be the easiest, lowest-hanging fruit,” she said. Why Is Food Behind the Refillable Curve?
It’s unclear why food has lagged behind products such as bath and cleaning products in the adoption of refillable and plastic-free packaging. But it’s likely in part due to heightened regulations, for food safety in general and COVID in particular.
“We had to spend time with the health department training them on how we can do this without plastic, because nobody else was doing it,” said All Good Goods’ Henn, whose background in water quality science may have proved to be an advantage. But it was ultimately achievable: “What I kept coming back to is that we were just returning to the old way of doing things. We’re big fans of the milkman, and we’re basically trying to recreate that online,” she said.
“A lot of very large food companies are talking about plastic, but they need to rethink how they’re doing business. I think we should be a little inconvenienced, at this point, for the greater good.”
She thinks that food safety, though, can’t be the only reason that food companies are lagging behind others on packaging. More intangible factors are the larger hurdles: Disposability is embedded into the modern supply chain, and adoption of reusable packaging requires a fundamental shift in mindset from corporate leadership and a major overhaul of logistics within the supply chain, said Henn. The fact that it is not easier to find bulk plastic-free pantry products is a perfect example, she said—her entire business essentially relies on ordering products at the same scale that restaurants do, which is nothing new for the supply chain. Yet many large food companies still can’t accommodate her plastic-free criteria. At the same time, she has found companies that make it possible—Lundberg, for example, delivers bulk rice in paper bags. And some wholesalers even collect and refill their own bulk packaging. “That’s the thing,” said Henn. “A lot of very large food companies are talking about plastic, but they need to rethink how they’re doing business.” She’s clear that will not always be an easy task, but she adds: “I think we should be a little inconvenienced, at this point, for the greater good.”

18 beauty brands that are using sustainable or refillable packaging

  • The beauty industry produces 120 billion units of packaging per year.
  • In an effort to combat this, companies have recently been doubling down on sustainable packaging.
  • Below, we round up 18 beauty companies that offer reusable or recyclable packaging.
  • Each year, the beauty industry produces more than 120 billion units of packaging — "95% [of which] is thrown out after one use," said Yolanda Cooper, founder of skincare brand We Are Paradoxx, during a recent webinar to mark her Plastic Free Beauty Day initiative. Luckily, many brands are adopting environmentally-friendly initiatives that are already helping consumers engage in more responsible purchasing and disposal decisions. TerraCycle, for example, partners with companies such as Burt's Bees, L'Occitane, eos, and Living Proof (to name but a few) to recycle beauty packaging that isn't typically accepted curbside. Meanwhile, Loop offers a refill service for brands such as RENDermalogica, and Puretto, professionally cleaning the (typically aluminum-based) packaging before topping up your favorite products and shipping them back out to you. However, experts agree that for significant and long-lasting transitions to occur within the industry, companies themselves need to initiate changes — and, fortunately, some are already making strides in doing so. From big to small, here are 17 personal care brands doing their bit in the world of sustainable packaging.
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Loop’s revolutionary reusable packaging system is coming to a bunch of big stores

If you walk into a Fred Meyer supermarket in Portland, Oregon, in late October, you might notice something new: In some of the chain’s stores, a new section will sell common products, like hand soap, in reusable packaging that customers can later bring back to the store.
Kroger, which owns the chain and plans to roll out the new reusable section in 25 Fred Meyer stores in Portland before potentially expanding to other cities, is one of several retailers to begin using Loop, a platform for reusable packaging that started with online orders. “It’s really aligned with our vision of a world with zero waste,” says Denise Osterhues, senior director of sustainability and social impact at Kroger. “It’s innovative, and it’s a platform that could ultimately help end single-use packaging and disposability that we’ve all become so accustomed to.” Customers pay a deposit on the package, which they get back when they return it to a drop-off bin in the store. Then Loop sorts the packaging at a “micro node” nearby, and sends it to a larger facility for cleaning and sanitizing, before ultimately returning it to a manufacturing facility to be refilled and reused. Some of the brands in the platform use standard packaging that just hasn’t been reused in the past, like Gerber baby food in glass containers. The same platform launched in Tesco, the U.K. supermarket chain, in ten stores earlier this month. Tesco, which is offering 88 different items in reusable packaging, calculated that if customers in those 10 stores switch to the reusable version of three products—Coca-Cola, Heinz Tomato Ketchup, and Ecover cleaning products—the packages would be reused more than 2.5 million times a year. While the new store display has signs explaining how the system works, Tesco is also using Loop “ambassadors” at the launch to help customers understand what to do. “It’s effectively exactly like how organic came to life in stores, when you would walk into a store and see an organic section and then shop that section if you care about organic products,” says Tom Szaky, CEO and founder of Terracycle, the recycling company that created the Loop platform.
  [Photo: Loop]The system launched in late 2020 in Carrefour, a large retailer in France, and in Aeon stores in Japan in May 2021. Walgreens plans to begin using the in-store system in early 2022, and Ulta Beauty will follow sometime next year, along with Woolworth’s in Australia. Some restaurant chains are also beginning to use the system, including McDonald’s, Burger King, and Tim Horton’s.  Kroger chose to launch first in Fred Meyer stores in Portland, Osterhues says, because the company knew that customers in the area were particularly interested in sustainability (the stores also have a larger physical footprint than some of the company’s other supermarkets, so there was more space available for the new display). It hopes to expand. “Our hope would be to scale it, because that’s when it becomes truly financially beneficial, as well as better impact for our planet,” she says.
“The critical piece here is scale,” says Szaky. “It’s more brands and retailers really taking this seriously by going in-store and then scaling their in-store presence. And that will then leave us where hopefully in a few years from now, you’ll be able to go anywhere, into your favorite retailer, and see a Loop section with whatever your favorite brands are.”
New legislation could also help push it forward, he says. In France, for example, a new anti-waste law includes a ban that will begin next year on disposable tableware in restaurants, including fast food chains. “That’s actually a pretty big deal for something like a McDonald’s,” he says.

Beauty Industry Attempts Shift Toward Sustainable Packaging

Beauty brands and retailers are partnering with recycling programs and banning single-use products as consumers become more conscious of sustainability. image.png Beauty brands are looking to shift away from traditional packaging toward biodegradable, plastic-free and refillable options as consumer demand for sustainability grows more intense. Increasingly turning to biodegradable, plastic-free or refillable options for products, brands are pivoting toward limiting their waste. Retailer Credo Beauty upped the ante last year by banning all single-use products, including sample packettes and sheet masks. Nordstrom has partnered with TerraCycle to recycle empty beauty products, while Ulta Beauty has partnered with TerraCycle subsidiary Loop as a part of its conscious beauty program. Brands like Burt's Bees, Ren Clean Skincare and The Body Shop have also partnered with Loop. Experts say consumers are responding increasingly to alternate ways of receiving - and storing - beauty products. Credo credited the pandemic for the shift in attitude. "There has been a total behavioral reset from a customer standpoint, and they really want to know information, and they want to be empowered with information," said Annie Jackson, cofounder and chief executive officer of Credo Beauty. "If we were having a conversation with a customer that you can just throw [packaging] in your blue bin, she would be, like, 'Why are you bugging me?' Today, she really wants to know, and she feels empowered by that information." When the retailer first banned single-use products, which include single-use sampling materials and products such as makeup remover wipes, peel pads and sheet masks, Jackson said collaboration with brands was imperative. "Whenever we do something like that, we have calls with about 80 percent of our brand community, and we come together and share resources," she said. As a result, Credo cofounded Pact, a nonprofit beauty recycling program with fellow industry stakeholders like Hudson's Bay, Mob Beauty and Element Packaging. The program educates consumers on which pieces of their packaging can be recycled, and how. One of Mob Beauty's cofounders, Victor Casale, said reception has been strong. "On Earth Day, we launched our membership program. We have been approached by every major retailer in the beauty space in North America, and we have been approached by about 100 brands," Casale said. When Casale cofounded Mob Beauty, all of the products were designed around their refillable palettes, made of PCR plastic. "If you're trying to change your packaging or change course, it's easier to start a brand than to restage one. It's really expensive for young, indie brands," said Alisha Gallagher, cofounder of Mob Beauty. "We have a commitment that if we don't have a sustainable packaging solution, we won't launch the product." Gallagher posited that refillable packaging was more sustainable in the economical sense, too. "When you're buying into the refill system, you're actually getting better value long-term for the product you're purchasing," she said. "At least half of the cost of a single-use disposable product is the packaging that you throw away, and then repurchase. Getting that out of our system allows us to put in the expensive, PCR materials that allow the product to be of value, and sell if not for the same, then less than the competitor." Even brands whose bread and butter comes from single-use products are clueing into consumers' changing needs. The clinical skin care brand 111Skin, which was founded by plastic surgeon Yannis Alexandrides, earlier this year launched its first multiuse mask lines to accompany its cult-favorite sheet mask assortment in a move away from the single-use format. The line, which includes six products that range in price from $135 to $150, is reflective of turning tides with more sophisticated beauty consumers. "When we first started 10 years ago, sustainability was not on the forefront, it was more about the quality of the product," said Eva Alexandridis, CEO of 111Skin. "Our clients are very in-tune with what is sustainable," Alexandridis continued. "We keep trying to innovate with our paper packaging. There are clients out there that would not want to use single-use products, and others are OK if it is biodegradable and done in a sustainable fashion. All of our biocellulose masks are biodegradable and fully recyclable, and we want to give choices to our clients."

Kroger Announces Reusable Packaging Platform

When The Kroger Co. published its 2021 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) report in late August 2021, the company  also released a statement about how it plans to further integrate its people, planet and systems approach into lines of business and develop a shared-value framework that unlocks economic opportunity. Packaging manufacturers have a key opportunity to help Kroger achieve its goals as many revolve around packaging initiatives as well as waste and resource reduction. The packaging and converting community would also be wise to keep an eye on Kroger’s new partnership with Loop, as Kroger’s outsized influence in the grocery sector can propel Loop’s reusable packaging program into the mainstream. Kroger will be Loop’s exclusive U.S. grocery partner and the grocer says that the resulting reusable packaging platform will play a large role in Kroger’s zero-waste vision by reducing single-use plastics in the environment. Other packaging initiatives spotlighted in the report include the use of 100% recyclable, compostable and/or reusable Our Brands packaging by 2030. Innovative and effective packaging can also help Kroger achieve its goal of achieving zero retail food to landfills by 2025. "As a grocery retailer, Kroger is committed to advancing positive impacts for people and our planet and to creating more resilient global systems," Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO, said in the company statement.

How businesses can make reuse scalable and viable

Tom Szaky, CEO and Founder of TerraCycle and Loop, articulates how multi-stakeholder partnerships are essential in driving action and innovation in the reuse space.


Reuse is back in a big way. Not only are stores accepting BYO shopping totes and refillable mugs again, there’s a burgeoning consumer demand for refill schemes for consumables — food & beverage, home and laundry care, cosmetics, and other products that get used up quickly. This trend towards durable packaging offers new solutions to the global waste crisis, and a new way to do business.


The history of single-use


Here, I use the term “new” somewhat loosely, as using product containers more than once was intuitive and necessary for most of civilisation, but for the last 70 years, we’ve been focused and reliant on the models of single-use and disposability for products.


Trace it back to mass production and material advances perfected during the first and second World Wars. Freed up in peacetime, manufacturers and plastics producers pivoted to consumers, working with brands, retailers, and marketers to create value propositions for disposability and a petrochemical material — both new concepts for the general public.


Single-use packaging for consumables in particular drove access to more products than ever before, giving rise to the convenience market and a throwaway culture for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) and the planned obsolescence of products once made to last (such as clothing, home appliances, and electronics) now designed to break or fall out of trend.


Today, the world sees the consequences of this linear economy taking resources to make products, such as packaging for FMCGs, and sending them to become waste. In the few years preceding COVID-19, the magnitude of the plastic waste crisis known to scientists and researchers for decades became a part of the public consciousness; even as the pandemic dominated global attention, awareness of environmental issues remained high and even increased.


Consumers now understand they pay several times for their products — for the product itself, the packaging it's in, public and private waste management programs, and loss to natural capital of the planet — while businesses have externalized these negatives for profit, and governments allow them to do so.


Necessary Disruption


A pivot to reusable packaging would be challenging, and a disruption to a business model that has so long served to create jobs, drive access to goods, and generate growth. Yet, there is a huge business case for leading the charge on demonstrating reuse models are viable, practical and capable of generating added value across the economy.


A multi-stakeholder partnership approach


Nearly all of these challenges are mitigated by the very essential ingredient that made single-use possible in the first place: multi-stakeholder partnership. The World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Consumption looks to advance the frameworks to encourage the scalability of reuse through its Consumers Beyond Waste initiative, which brings together leading private, public and civil society sector actors committed to creating access to innovative consumption models at scale; I myself am co-chair of its steering committee on behalf of my companies TerraCycle and Loop.


In its first year, the coalition focused on developing a multi-stakeholder perspective on 1) the economic, environmental, and social determinants of integrated reuse systems, 2) developing a “playbook” for cities to test and enable these systems, and 3) advancing efforts to develop sets of shared guidelines for reuse in the key areas of health and safety, and design.


As part of this, their recent report Future of Reusable Consumption Models presents a framework for a wide reuse system, breaking down six key aspects that determine the ability of models to succeed economically and operationally: delivery-model efficiency, consumer experiences, technology advancement, regulation, cultural shift, and demonstration of improvement. All of these are indicators of scalability, and none can be achieved by working alone.


Thus, it cannot be emphasised enough that no one group or sector can bring reuse to life; buy-in and application is needed by manufacturers, retailers, and brands in order to drive innovation, minimize risk, demonstrate and report on value, and share learnings and resources across the value chain. Our global Loop™ model aims to do this for packaging reuse with the convenience and affordability so long driven by single-use models.


Loop is today in an exciting growth phase as it launches in new markets around the world (most recently Japan), and building upon the success of in-store space at Carrefour in Europe and Japan, will soon pilot at retail locations in the United States and the UK. Guests will soon be able to purchase products in durable containers and drop off their empties at participating stores.


Consumer confidence is key


Over the past couple of years we’ve learned that buy-in at retail is essential, as is the marketing and sales support for the CPG (consumer packaged goods) brands on Loop and the establishment of trust with end-users, the customers of our partners. We’ve also learned consumers take to reuse if they are confident about the safety and function of the product and don’t have to change much about their own behaviour, except for an improved experience.


For example, a brand-name shampoo bottle on Loop contains the same trusted formula consumers love and can be conveniently “tossed” in the same store it was purchased; through a third-party verified Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for our reuse platform, both the ecommerce and retail models respectively come out environmentally superior to alternatives in as few as three uses. Consumers gain the functional benefits of a better looking container, and the emotional and social benefits of choosing a more sustainable way to consume.


Challenges of cost for businesses rule the secondary challenges around lack of infrastructure, uncertainty about financial viability, and questions about how to attain adequate brand differentiation, while governments must contend with a lack of funding for public programmes and infrastructure changes that incentivise waste reduction, so proving value creation through measured ROI (i.e. environmental LCAs, consumer insights, sales lift and forecasting) is key to driving emerging models forward.


With the work we continue to do with Loop, our partners and vendors, and alongside the members of Consumers Beyond Waste, who include NGOs such as World Wildlife Fund, thought-leaders Closed Loop Partners and IDEO, municipal bodies such as City of Philadelphia and New York City Mayor's Office of Sustainability, and many Loop retailers including Kroger and Tesco, it’s our goal to bring reuse back, and inspire and support business in their ambitions to do the same.