Posts with term Nestle X

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

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

My first Loop: Early days in the circular shopping platform

https://www.supplychaindive.com/user_media/cache/bf/6c/bf6c1afb999b7b0626ef5d606dc49cd3.jpg Over the last few months, I and dozens (if not hundreds) of others have placed orders for common household items from Loop — a new e-commerce site that attempts to eliminate the immense amount of single-use packaging and filler that comes with shopping, online or in-store. The platform officially launched its e-commerce site in May with roughly 25 vendors and two major retail partners in Kroger and Walgreens. The platform is currently available to consumers in select zip codes in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland, Washington D.C. and Paris. At the launch event in May, participating vendors and retailers, along with CEO Tom Szaky of TerraCycle (the recycling company behind the concept), made it clear the early days are an experiment from which the various stakeholders will learn how consumers use the platform. These insights would inform future evolutions of the product. A good start but, by no means, the ultimate form Loop will take.

It feels like good old e-commerce but ...

The process feels very much like a traditional e-commerce transaction with a few exceptions. Shoppers choose their items, each with a base price and an additional container deposit to be refunded when the item is returned empty. Then the items are shipped via UPS in a reusable zippered box the size of medium-sized cooler. I placed my order Friday, May 31 and received it Tuesday, June 4.
Once the products are used up, the idea is to put the empty packages back in the Loop box for UPS pickup and the containers will be cleaned, sanitized and recirculated — everything is reused. Even the shipping label was a thick piece of paper that slides into a slot in the top of the box that simply needs to be flipped over to send the box back. One of the most striking elements about the experience was how the consumer is never without instructions as to what to do next. Every item has some form of return direction on it encouraging the user to complete the Loop. Even the tiny plastic zip tie that secures the delivery box (and the fresh one inside for the return shipment) is well-marked with instructions. https://www.supplychaindive.com/user_media/diveimage/IMG_4817_xCMz688.jpg Every item, from reusable box filler to each product, is marked with instructions so the user is never unclear as to what to do next.  |   Credit: Emma Cosgrove   The product selection in the store is so far fairly limited — spanning dry bulk food products like nuts, spices and pasta, a few personal care items like razors and hand wash, household cleaners and ice cream. Many more brands are advertised as partnering with Loop, so hopefully the assortment will grow soon. In my first order, I tried to choose items from every category and receive a variety of products — and more importantly, a variety of containers. The packaging, after all, is a key part of the innovation. TerraCycle worked with the committed vendors like Unilever, Mars, Nestle, PepsiCo, Colgate-Palmolive, Procter & Gamble and more to develop versions of selected products in largely non-plastic packaging with the aim of getting 100 cycles out of every container. https://www.supplychaindive.com/user_media/diveimage/Anchor-Product_Family.jpg "Reusable packaging is more expensive from an environmental perspective to make the first time ... but every time it goes around, you don't have the cost of remaking it. All you do is have the cost of collecting it and cleaning it. And by using really efficient supply chains to do the collection, it’s very efficient to transport," Szaky said at the launch. Most of the containers I received were stainless with some plastic components like pumps and spray nozzles. I also received peanut butter in a glass jar (with a $2 deposit, which admittedly caused a bit of sticker shock). All were perfectly functional (even in the shower) and certainly better to look at than logo-adorned plastic.

How do the prices compare?

In short ... it varies. At today’s prices, Loop's more premium items are more comparable to the market price than the mass-market brands. For example, 19.5 oz. of organic lemon-flavored almonds cost $16.65 plus the container deposit — a slightly cheaper per ounce rate than the product is priced on the brand’s website. While dry black beans are priced at $3.25 a pound plus the container deposit – at least 60% more than a bulk price in a grocery store. Tide detergent is fairly competitively priced, while a pint of Haagen-Dazs is at least $1 more than at the grocery store and carries a hefty $5.00 deposit for the much-hailed stainless container that allows the eater to hold the pint comfortably, and shovel directly into their mouth, even after pulling the metal directly from the freezer. https://www.supplychaindive.com/user_media/diveimage/IMG_4829_2.jpg The Haagen-Dazs container is designed with an inner and outer stainless steel layer to enable faster melting only at the top and comfortable eating from the pint straight form the freezer.   |   Credit: Emma Cosgrove And those deposits add up. On my first order, I paid $30.50 in deposits including the $15.00 deposit for the shipping box — 23% of my total order. Cleverly though, upon return, the deposits go into a deposit balance on the site instead of being refunded back through your payment method, so the blow will be much softer next time around. (The circular nature of the platform not only keeps your shopping nearly waste-free but also is a fairly effective marketing tool to encourage subsequent orders since not all products empty out on the same schedule.)

Would I order again?

The experience of opening the Loop box and producing no immediate waste is exactly as I expected – a relief. The box itself, especially for a relatively small order of seven items like mine, came with a lot of foam packaging and a cooler with many ice packs for the ice cream I ordered. I had to remind myself that though it seemed excessive, none of this was waste. When I finished with about half of the items, I sent the box back and received an email within 24 hours acknowledging receipt of my empty products. https://www.supplychaindive.com/user_media/diveimage/IMG_4837.jpg Every bit of package filler protecting the Loop products is reusable.  |   Credit: Emma Cosgrove   All in all, Loop is still for true believers. As an avid online shopper, especially for household basics and groceries, keenly aware of how much waste that generates on a nearly daily basis — I am such a believer. I will order again to reduce my waste, to support the initiative and to satisfy my curiosity as this program grows and changes. The platform doesn’t meet quite enough of my needs to cancel out any of the other vendors I currently shop with — though I’m watching eagerly for the day that it does. The brands available now don’t all work for me, and I imagine with mass market and niche brands accounted for in a relatively small assortment of products, this will be true for almost everyone. It's not a platform for value or selection yet. But it is relatively guilt-free and offers a smooth, responsive and guided user experience that is enjoyable. The supply chain innovation when it comes to Loop is mostly in the products themselves. The return, wash and recirculate model is borrowed from various industries like commercial linens (though the product variety is much larger and the per-order minimum much smaller for Loop) and the transport itself is simple logistics and reverse logistics. But scaling the products as the platform grows will be something to watch — and so will the shifts in consumer behavior as the platform expands its products and customer base. Did it change my consumption life? No. But I see how it could one day.  

Loop: The New Recycling Initiative

woman receiving loop package Companies are still fighting to go green, and Kroger and Walgreens are the latest to join in on a new recycling project. This state-of-the-art circular shopping system, named Loop, officially launched their pilot program in May of 2019 in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. to lessen the world’s reliance on single-use packaging, according to a TerraCycle press release. First announced at the World Economic Forum in January, Loop enables consumers to purchase a variety of commonly used products from leading consumer brands in customized, brand-specific durable packaging that is delivered in a specially designed reusable shipping tote. When finished with the product, the packaging is collected, cleaned, refilled and reused, creating a revolutionary circular shopping system. Loop is an initiative from TerraCycle, an innovative waste management company whose mission is to eliminate the idea of waste. Operating nationally across 21 countries, TerraCycle partners with leading consumer companies, retailers, cities and facilities to recycle hard-to-recycle waste. Loop provides customers this circular shopping platform while encouraging manufacturers to own and take responsibility for their packaging on the long term. “Loop was designed from the ground-up to reinvent the way we consume by leveraging the sustainable, circular milkman model of yesterday with the convenience of e-commerce,” said Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of Loop and TerraCycle, in the press release. “TerraCycle came together with dozens of major consumer product companies from P&G to Nestle to Unilever, the World Economic Forum Future of Consumption Platform, logistics and transportation company UPS and leading retailers Kroger and Walgreens to create a simple and convenient way to enjoy a wide range of products, customized in brand-specific durable and reusable packaging.”

How It Works

Consumers can go to www.loopstore.comwww.thekrogerco.com/loop or www.walgreens.com/loop to place an order. The shipment will then come in Loop’s exclusively designed shipping tote. After use, buyers place the empty containers into their Loop totes and go online to schedule a pickup from their home. Loop will clean the packaging so that each product may be safely reused to replenish products for more customers. There are also a number of completely free recycling programs on TerraCycle’s website, www.terracycle.com/en-US, where consumers can sign up for an account. Once the account is created, customers can collect the hard-to-recycle materials and either ship it or drop it off at a participating location. There are numerous different free programs that can be used and each one is for a specific product. For example, one of the programs is the ARM & HAMMER® and OXICLEAN® pouch recycling program, which only allows participants to ship these used materials. Other programs include products for Barilla Ready Pasta, Beech-Nut, Burt’s Bees and Brita, which can only be recycled in their specific programs. Being able to ship recycled materials or drop them off depends on each program.

How Retailers Can Participate

Right now, the Loop pilot program is available in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington, D.C. If you are interested in creating a collection and recycling program for your non-recyclable products or packaging, TerraCycle has a wide variety of platform options. Typically, TerraCycle collects post-consumer waste from your key target consumers, cleans the waste, and then works with your brand to drive equity and value. Some of the consumer product companies that are currently working with Loop include Unilever, Nature’s Path, Nestle, SC Johnson, The Body Shop and Colgate-Palmolive, among others.

The Zero Waste Box Program

Another great way to participate in this go-green initiative includes the opportunity to recycle almost anything — for both your business and your customers. This special program helps you to recycle almost any type of waste, such as coffee capsules from your morning coffee or complex laboratory waste from your business, sending nothing to landfill or incineration. To open the door for your customers into this program, you can order a permanent collection unit to house your Zero Waste Box. A permanent unit protects your box, can be styled to fit your environment or store, and offers an organized place to maintain your collections. TerraCycle can work with you to understand and accommodate your budget, styling, quantity and timeline needs. No matter your recycling needs as a business, TerraCycle is willing to work with you. They also help with recycling at events in the case your store is holding a pop-up or other related events. Global warming is becoming a larger concern, and with these recycling programs, you can feel better about your impact on the environment as well as create customer loyalty if they can come back and recycle their products at your store. Happy recycling!  

‘Plastic recycling is a myth': what really happens to your rubbish?

recycle now we do An alarm sounds, the blockage is cleared, and the line at Green Recycling in Maldon, Essex, rumbles back into life. A momentous river of garbage rolls down the conveyor: cardboard boxes, splintered skirting board, plastic bottles, crisp packets, DVD cases, printer cartridges, countless newspapers, including this one. Odd bits of junk catch the eye, conjuring little vignettes: a single discarded glove. A crushed Tupperware container, the meal inside uneaten. A photograph of a smiling child on an adult’s shoulders. But they are gone in a moment. The line at Green Recycling handles up to 12 tonnes of waste an hour. “We produce 200 to 300 tonnes a day,” says Jamie Smith, Green Recycling’s general manager, above the din. We are standing three storeys up on the green health-and-safety gangway, looking down the line. On the tipping floor, an excavator is grabbing clawfuls of trash from heaps and piling it into a spinning drum, which spreads it evenly across the conveyor. Along the belt, human workers pick and channel what is valuable (bottles, cardboard, aluminium cans) into sorting chutes. “Our main products are paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, mixed plastics, and wood,” says Smith, 40. “We’re seeing a significant rise in boxes, thanks to Amazon.” By the end of the line, the torrent has become a trickle. The waste stands stacked neatly in bales, ready to be loaded on to trucks. From there, it will go – well, that is when it gets complicated. You drink a Coca-Cola, throw the bottle into the recycling, put the bins out on collection day and forget about it. But it doesn’t disappear. Everything you own will one day become the property of this, the waste industry, a £250bn global enterprise determined to extract every last penny of value from what remains. It starts with materials recovery facilities (MRFs) such as this one, which sort waste into its constituent parts. From there, the materials enter a labyrinthine network of brokers and traders. Some of that happens in the UK, but much of it – about half of all paper and cardboard, and two-thirds of plastics – will be loaded on to container ships to be sent to Europe or Asia for recycling. Paper and cardboard goes to mills; glass is washed and re-used or smashed and melted, like metal and plastic. Food, and anything else, is burned or sent to landfill. Or, at least, that’s how it used to work. Then, on the first day of 2018, China, the world’s largest market for recycled waste, essentially shut its doors. Under its National Sword policy, China prohibited 24 types of waste from entering the country, arguing that what was coming in was too contaminated. The policy shift was partly attributed to the impact of a documentary, Plastic China, which went viral before censors erased it from China’s internet. The film follows a family working in the country’s recycling industry, where humans pick through vast dunes of western waste, shredding and melting salvageable plastic into pellets that can be sold to manufacturers. It is filthy, polluting work – and badly paid. The remainder is often burned in the open air. The family lives alongside the sorting machine, their 11-year-old daughter playing with a Barbie pulled from the rubbish. Westminster council sent 82% of all household waste – including that put in recycling bins – for incineration in 2017/18 For recyclers such as Smith, National Sword was a huge blow. “The price of cardboard has probably halved in the last 12 months,” he says. “The price of plastics has plummeted to the extent that it isn’t worth recycling. If China doesn’t take plastic, we can’t sell it.” Still, that waste has to go somewhere. The UK, like most developed nations, produces more waste than it can process at home: 230m tonnes a year – about 1.1kg per person per day. (The US, the world’s most wasteful nation, produces 2kg per person per day.) Quickly, the market began flooding any country that would take the trash: Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, countries with some of the world’s highest rates of what researchers call “waste mismanagement” – rubbish left or burned in open landfills, illegal sites or facilities with inadequate reporting, making its final fate difficult to trace. The present dumping ground of choice is Malaysia. In October last year, a Greenpeace Unearthed investigation found mountains of British and European waste in illegal dumps there: Tesco crisp packets, Flora tubs and recycling collection bags from three London councils. As in China, the waste is often burned or abandoned, eventually finding its way into rivers and oceans. In May, the Malaysian government began turning back container ships, citing public health concerns. Thailand and India have announced bans on the import of foreign plastic waste. But still the rubbish flows.
 Plastic waste ready for inspection before being sent to Malaysia; the UK produces more refuse than it can process at home – about 1.1kg per person per day.
Plastic waste ready for inspection before being sent to Malaysia; the UK produces more refuse than it can process at home – about 1.1kg per person per day. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images We want our waste hidden. Green Recycling is tucked away at the end of an industrial estate, surrounded by sound-deflecting metal boards. Outside, a machine called an Air Spectrum masks the acrid odour with the smell of cotton bedsheets. But, all of a sudden, the industry is under intense scrutiny. In the UK, recycling rates have stagnated in recent years, while National Sword and funding cuts have led to more waste being burned in incinerators and energy-from-waste plants. (Incineration, while often criticised for being polluting and an inefficient source of energy, is today preferred to landfill, which emits methane and can leach toxic chemicals.) Westminster council sent 82% of all household waste – including that put in recycling bins – for incineration in 2017/18. Some councils have debated giving up recycling altogether. And yet the UK is a successful recycling nation: 45.7% of all household waste is classed as recycled (although that number indicates only that it is sent for recycling, not where it ends up.) In the US, that figure is 25.8%. One of the UK’s largest waste companies, attempted to ship used nappies abroad in consignments marked as waste paper If you look at plastics, the picture is even bleaker. Of the 8.3bn tonnes of virgin plastic produced worldwide, only 9% has been recycled, according to a 2017 Science Advances paper entitled Production, Use And Fate Of All Plastics Ever Made. “I think the best global estimate is maybe we’re at 20% [per year] globally right now,” says Roland Geyer, its lead author, a professor of industrial ecology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Academics and NGOs doubt those numbers, due to the uncertain fate of our waste exports. In June, one of the UK’s largest waste companies, Biffa, was found guilty of attempting to ship used nappies, sanitary towels and clothing abroad in consignments marked as waste paper. “I think there’s a lot of creative accounting going on to push the numbers up,” Geyer says. “It’s really a complete myth when people say that we’re recycling our plastics,” says Jim Puckett, the executive director of the Seattle-based Basel Action Network, which campaigns against the illegal waste trade. “It all sounded good. ‘It’s going to be recycled in China!’ I hate to break it to everyone, but these places are routinely dumping massive amounts of [that] plastic and burning it on open fires.” *** Recycling is as old as thrift. The Japanese were recycling paper in the 11th century; medieval blacksmiths made armour from scrap metal. During the second world war, scrap metal was made into tanks and women’s nylons into parachutes. “The trouble started when, in the late 70s, we began trying to recycle household waste,” says Geyer. This was contaminated with all sorts of undesirables: non-recyclable materials, food waste, oils and liquids that rot and spoil the bales. At the same time, the packaging industry flooded our homes with cheap plastic: tubs, films, bottles, individually shrink-wrapped vegetables. Plastic is where recycling gets most controversial. Recycling aluminium, say, is straightforward, profitable and environmentally sound: making a can from recycled aluminium reduces its carbon footprint by up to 95%. But with plastic, it is not that simple. While virtually all plastics can be recycled, many aren’t because the process is expensive, complicated and the resulting product is of lower quality than what you put in. The carbon-reduction benefits are also less clear. “You ship it around, then you have to wash it, then you have to chop it up, then you have to re-melt it, so the collection and recycling itself has its own environmental impact,” says Geyer.
 A materials recovery facility in Milton Keynes where waste is sorted. In the UK, there are 28 different recycling labels that can appear on packaging
A materials recovery facility in Milton Keynes where waste is sorted. In the UK, there are 28 different recycling labels that can appear on packaging. Photograph: Alamy Household recycling requires sorting at a vast scale. This is why most developed countries have colour-coded bins: to keep the end product as pure as possible. In the UK, Recycle Now lists 28 different recycling labels that can appear on packaging. There is the mobius loop (three twisted arrows), which indicates a product can technically be recycled; sometimes that symbol contains a number between one and seven, indicating the plastic resin from which the object is made. There is the green dot (two green arrows embracing), which indicates that the producer has contributed to a European recycling scheme. There are labels that say “Widely Recycled” (acceptable by 75% of local councils) and “Check Local Recycling” (between 20% and 75% of councils). Since National Sword, sorting has become even more crucial, as overseas markets demand higher-quality material. “They don’t want to be the world’s dumping ground, quite rightly,” Smith says, as we walk along the Green Recycling line. About halfway, four women in hi-vis and caps pull out large chunks of cardboard and plastic films, which machines struggle with. There is a low rumble in the air and a thick layer of dust on the gangway. Green Recycling is a commercial MRF: it takes waste from schools, colleges and local businesses. That means lower volume, but better margins, as the company can charge clients directly and maintain control over what it collects. “The business is all about turning straw into gold,” says Smith, referencing Rumpelstiltskin. “But it’s hard – and it’s become a lot harder.” Towards the end of the line is the machine that Smith hopes will change that. Last year, Green Recycling became the first MRF in the UK to invest in Max, a US-made, artificially intelligent sorting machine. Inside a large clear box over the conveyor, a robotic suction arm marked FlexPickerTM is zipping back and forth over the belt, picking tirelessly. “He’s looking for plastic bottles first,” Smith says. “He does 60 picks a minute. Humans will pick between 20 and 40, on a good day.” A camera system identifies the waste rolling by, displaying a detailed breakdown on a nearby screen. The machine is intended not to replace humans, but to augment them. “He’s picking three tonnes of waste a day that otherwise our human guys would have to leave,” Smith says. In fact, the robot has created a new human job to maintain it: this is done by Danielle, whom the crew refer to as “Max’s mum”. The benefits of automation, Smith says, are twofold: more material to sell and less waste that the company needs to pay to have burned afterwards. Margins are thin and landfill tax is £91 a tonne. *** Smith is not alone in putting his faith in technology. With consumers and the government outraged at the plastics crisis, the waste industry is scrambling to solve the problem. One great hope is chemical recycling: turning problem plastics into oil or gas through industrial processes. “It recycles the kind of plastics that mechanical recycling can’t look at: the pouches, the sachets, the black plastics,” says Adrian Griffiths, the founder of Swindon-based Recycling Technologies. The idea found its way to Griffiths, a former management consultant, by accident, after a mistake in a Warwick University press release. “They said they could turn any old plastic back into a monomer. At the time, they couldn’t,” Griffiths says. Intrigued, Griffiths got in touch. He ended up partnering with the researchers to launch a company that could do this. By moving from disposable to reusable, you unlock epic design opportunities At Recycling Technologies’ pilot plant in Swindon, plastic (Griffiths says it can process any type) is fed into a towering steel cracking chamber, where it is separated at extremely high temperatures into gas and an oil, plaxx, which can be used as a fuel or feedstock for new plastic. While the global mood has turned against plastic, Griffiths is a rare defender of it. “Plastic packaging has actually done an incredible service for the world, because it has reduced the amount of glass, metal and paper that we were using,” he says. “The thing that worries me more than the plastic problem is global warming. If you use more glass, more metal, those materials have a much higher carbon footprint.” The company recently launched a trial scheme with Tesco and is already working on a second facility, in Scotland. Eventually, Griffiths hopes to sell the machines to recycling facilities worldwide. “We need to stop shipping recycling abroad,” he says. “No civilised society should be getting rid of its waste to a developing country.” There is cause for optimism: in December 2018, the UK government published a comprehensive new waste strategy, partly in response to National Sword. Among its proposals: a tax on plastic packaging containing less than 30% recycled material; a simplified labelling system; and means to force companies to take responsibility for the plastic packaging they produce. They hope to force the industry to invest in recycling infrastructure at home. Meanwhile, the industry is being forced to adapt: in May, 186 countries passed measures to track and control the export of plastic waste to developing countries, while more than 350 companies have signed a global commitment to eliminate the use of single-use plastics by 2025. Yet such is the torrent of humanity’s refuse that these efforts may not be enough. Recycling rates in the west are stalling and packaging use is set to soar in developing countries, where recycling rates are low. If National Sword has shown us anything, it is that recycling – while needed – simply isn’t enough to solve our waste crisis. *** Perhaps there is an alternative. Since Blue Planet II brought the plastic crisis to our attention, a dying trade is having a resurgence in Britain: the milkman. More of us are choosing to have milk bottles delivered, collected and re-used. Similar models are springing up: zero-waste shops that require you to bring your own containers; the boom in refillable cups and bottles. It is as if we have remembered that the old environmental slogan “Reduce, re-use, recycle” wasn’t only catchy, but listed in order of preference. Tom Szaky wants to apply the milkman model to almost everything you buy. The bearded, shaggy-haired Hungarian-Canadian is a veteran of the waste industry: he founded his first recycling startup as a student at Princeton, selling worm-based fertiliser out of re-used bottles. That company, TerraCycle, is now a recycling giant, with operations in 21 countries. In 2017, TerraCycle worked with Head & Shoulders on a shampoo bottle made from recycled ocean plastics. The product launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos and was an immediate hit. Proctor & Gamble, which makes Head & Shoulders, was keen to know what was next, so Szaky pitched something far more ambitious. The result is Loop, which launched trials in France and the US this spring and will arrive in Britain this winter. It offers a variety of household products – from manufacturers including P&G, Unilever, Nestlé and Coca-Cola – in reusable packaging. The items are available online or through exclusive retailers. Customers pay a small deposit, and the used containers are eventually collected by a courier or dropped off in store (Walgreens in the US, Tesco in the UK), washed, and sent back to the producer to be refilled. “Loop is a not a product company; it’s a waste management company,” says Szaky. “We’re just looking at waste before it begins.” Many of the Loop designs are familiar: refillable glass bottles of Coca-Cola and Tropicana; aluminium bottles of Pantene. But others are being rethought entirely. “By moving from disposable to reusable, you unlock epic design opportunities,” says Szaky. For example: Unilever is working on toothpaste tablets that dissolve into paste under running water; Häagen-Dazs ice-cream comes in a stainless steel tub that stays cold long enough for picnics. Even the deliveries come in a specially designed insulated bag, to cut down on cardboard. At Recycling Technologies in Swindon, nearly all plastics can be turned into plaxx, an oil that can be used to make new plastic. At Recycling Technologies in Swindon, nearly all plastics can be turned into plaxx, an oil that can be used to make new plastic. Photograph: Recycling Technologies Ltd Tina Hill, a Paris-based copywriter, signed up to Loop soon after its launch in France. “It’s super-easy,” she says. “It’s a small deposit, €3 [per container]. What I like about it is that they have things I already use: olive oil, washing pods.” Hill describes herself as “pretty green: we recycle anything that can be recycled, we buy organic”. By combining Loop with shopping at local zero-waste stores, Hills has helped her family radically reduce its reliance on single-use packaging. “The only downside is that the prices can be a little high. We don’t mind spending a little bit more to support the things that you believe in, but on some things, like pasta, it’s prohibitive.” A major advantage to Loop’s business model, Szaky says, is that it forces packaging designers to prioritise durability over disposability. In future, Szaky anticipates that Loop will be able to email users warnings for expiry dates and other advice to reduce their waste footprint. The milkman model is about more than just the bottle: it makes us think about what we consume and what we throw away. “Garbage is something that we want out of sight and mind – it’s dirty, it’s gross, it smells bad,” says Szaky. That is what needs to change. It is tempting to see plastic piled up in Malaysian landfills and assume recycling is a waste of time, but that isn’t true. In the UK, recycling is largely a success story, and the alternatives – burning our waste or burying it – are worse. Instead of giving up on recycling, Szaky says, we should all use less, re-use what we can and treat our waste like the waste industry sees it: as a resource. Not the ending of something, but the beginning of something else. “We don’t call it waste; we call it materials,” says Green Recycling’s Smith, back in Maldon. Down in the yard, a haulage truck is being loaded with 35 bales of sorted cardboard. From here, Smith will send it to a mill in Kent for pulping. It will be new cardboard boxes within the fortnight – and someone else’s rubbish soon after.  

Rethinking Food Packaging May Address the Plastic Crisis

As society comes to terms with its plastics problem, companies and individuals are finding alternative ways to package their food. Looking at the contents of the average grocery cart, it is no surprise that the World Economic Forum warns that there will be more plastic than fish by weight in oceans by 2050. From coffee bags to cheese wrappers—food and beverage packaging is a major contributor to plastic pollution. Scientists warn that the proliferation of plastics in the environment is creating a variety of health and ecological problems. Some companies are starting to recognize the need to act. Nestlé estimates that it produced about 1.5 million tons of plastic in 2018. In April 2018, Nestlé committed to make 100 percent of their packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025. Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider said in the announcement, “Plastic waste is one of the biggest sustainability issues the world is facing today. Tackling it requires a collective approach. We are committed to finding improved solutions to reduce, re-use, and recycle.” From 2020–2025, Nestlé will phase-out all plastics that are not recyclable or are hard to recycle. And Nestlé will significantly raise the percentage of recycled plastics used in its water bottle lines by 2025. Starting in 2019, the company will begin to eliminate all plastic straws in their products. The newly created Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences will lead the development and evaluation of new sustainable packaging. Nestlé also joined Loop, a subscription home delivery service for foods and household goods with reusable packaging. Spearheaded by TerraCycle, the project will deliver items to the consumer’s front door in customized, durable packaging that is then collected, cleaned, refilled, and re-used. Nestlé will participate in the project through its brand Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream in New York City, thereby joining other consumer goods producers like Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, and Mondelēz International. Mondelēz International joins the platform with its Milka brand of biscuits, cakes, and sweet snacks as part of its commitment to making all packaging recyclable by 2025. The commitment also includes eliminating 65 million kilograms of packaging material worldwide and sustainably sourcing all paper-based packaging by 2020. Acknowledging the role consumers play in a complete recycling system, Mondelēz also aims to provide better recycling information to consumers by 2025 with clear instructions for their packaging. “Plastic waste and its impact on the planet is a broad, systemic issue that our consumers care deeply about, and which requires a holistic response. Together with partners from across the industry, as well as public and private entities, we can help to develop practical solutions that result in a positive environmental impact,” says Rob Hargrove, Executive Vice President, Research, Development, Quality, and Innovation at Mondelēz. Unilever—the owner of brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Lipton, and Dove—purchases over 2 million tons of plastic a year. The company committed to meeting various packaging goals by 2025: making all their packaging recyclable, compostable, or reusable; using 25 percent recycled plastic in their plastic packing, and halving the waste associated with the disposal of their products. Unilever plans to achieve their goals by developing new processes and technologies such as CreaSolv, which recycles high-value polymers from used tea sachets to make recyclable plastic packaging. The commitments from these companies come amid growing public outcry over the proliferation of plastics in the environment. After an exposition finding plastics from Nestlé, Unilever, and Colgate in a popular diving spot in the Coral Triangle, Abigail Aguilar, campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines, says, “If big companies such as Nestlé and Unilever don’t respond to our calls for reduction in single-use plastic production, these places of ‘paradise’ like Verde Island Passage, will be lost.” A 2018 report from the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives found Nestlé and Unilever were the brands most responsible for plastic pollution in the Philippines. Several public laws are taking steps to reduce plastic waste. Most notably, in October of 2018, the European Parliament voted for a ban of 10 different single-use plastics by 2020. By 2025, the proposition mandates a 25 percent reduction of plastics for which there is no current practical alternative and that 90 percent of beverage bottles will be recycled. One option companies have for reducing plastic moving forward is plant-based biodegradable packaging. NatureWorks uses corn to produce a biodegradable industrial resin or polymer in the form of polylactic acid (PLA). The polymer, called Ingeo, can be used to make products such as compostable coffee capsules and yogurt cups. However, waste administers and experts have found that products made with Ingeo are often not fully compostable or recyclable. It is important to note that biodegradable materials will not break down in landfills. An increase in the use of biodegradable packaging must be accompanied by more composting infrastructure. Another company, TIPA, has created a new packaging technology that is fully biodegradable in both industrial and home composting. They promote their technology as an alternative to conventional flexible packaging, such as candy bar wrappers and coffee bean bags. Flexible packaging is generally not recyclable. TIPA asserts their packaging is as good as conventional flexible packaging in terms of shelf life, durability, sealing strength, printability, and flexibility. Some smaller food and beverage companies have already paved the way for sustainable packaging. For example, Alter Eco’s quinoa packaging is compostable and made by Gone4GoodB.O.S.S. Food’s snack bars use compostable wrappers made by TIPA. It may be possible to avoid packaging altogether. Zero-waste stores popping up in places from Brooklyn to Malaysia allow customers to take home bulk products in reusable containers. While fruits and vegetables often come in bulk, many companies also package these foods to extend shelf life. Apeel Sciences has found another solution. Their product is a thin edible and tasteless coating made from plant material that can be applied to fruits and veggies to significantly improve shelf-life. Founder and CEO James Rogers says, “our [mission] at its core is looking at natural ecosystems to determine and identify what materials it’s using to solve problems and how we might be able to extract and isolate those materials to solve other problems for humanity.” People are also reducing their use of food packaging at home. Homemade or purchased bees wrap wax is a sustainable alternative to plastic wraps and plastic snack or sandwich bags. Not only is beeswax reusable, but it is also compostable, and it requires a lot less energy and greenhouse gasses to produce than aluminum foil. The homemade wraps are made from nothing but beeswax and cotton. Pre-made beeswax wraps are available for purchase from companies like Bee’s Wrap, who also uses tree resin and jojoba oil, a natural antibacterial.    

In the loop

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

The Hidden Plastic That’s Clogging Our Oceans

This spring I was on a cruise off Bermuda, some 650-plus miles off the mainland United States. The sea was azure—the color of the sky on a clear blue day. The water was crystal clear other than a few golden strands of sargassum seaweed.   I was on the boat with an intrepid group of major plastic producers and users (Dow Chemical, Clorox, Nestlé Waters, Coca-Cola), nonprofit organizations (Greenpeace, WWF), social entrepreneurs, investors, funders and academics like me. We were gathered by SoulBuffalo, our host, to experience the ocean plastics challenge firsthand and to use our time confined together at sea to determine what we might do about it.   And there was horror lurking beneath.   What we encountered, though, weren’t massive shakes or mysterious monsters of the deep. We all took our turn snorkeling and had a macabre competition to see how many pieces of plastic we could find stuck in the sargassum. I think the toilet seat won.   Yet the truly devastating experience was this: Remember those crystal-clear waters 650 miles out in the middle of nowhere? We all took turns in a zodiac pulling a small filter behind us for 30 minutes. Each filter came back with 10 plus microplastic bits pulled from the top layer of those beautiful waters. These plastic fragments had not been visible to the naked eye.     Photo courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration   Every day we are drowning ourselves and unique habitats in plastic waste. Scientists estimate that in coastal countries some 275 million metric tons of waste were generated in 2010, with between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons (the equivalent of 8.5 million Toyota Priuses) ending up in the ocean.   Marine life is eating the plastic. I saw a piece of plastic with fish and turtle bites on it.  Whales, seabirds, fish and other sea mammals have been found with intestines full of plastic. So, what to do? Focus first on getting rid of single use plastics. Already the EU, Canada, China and India, among other countries, and some U.S. states and municipalities have announced various single use plastic bans, and more will come.   And we can do our part as consumers. You know you are supposed to bring that silly canvas bag with you to the grocery store—so do it! Build your personal brand with your choice of water bottle so you don’t have to buy plastic. (I have a Swell bottle that looks like wood. Says it all.) You can carry your own collapsible straw, if sipping things is an important part of your daily routine.   There is also fun new stuff to try. Feel nostalgic for the milkman and his glass bottles? Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Clorox, Nestlé, Mars, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are working with Terracycle through a new service called Loop, which delivers your shampoo, ice cream and other food and personal care items in durable and attractive packaging that they take away when empty, clean, refill and deliver to your doorstep.   A similar idea is Truman’s Cleaning Supplies. They not only reduce your jumble of noxious cleaners to four non-toxic options but will deliver refills that you mix with water in the original bottle. Bye-bye to lots of plastic bottles with leftover nasty chemicals in them.   Once you start thinking about it and creating a low plastics tolerance discipline, I am sure you will find many ways to cut down on single use plastics.   The motley crew aboard the Bermuda plastics cruise may still find ways to make it easier for you. My favorite idea from the onboard brainstorming was Zero Hero, wherein brands will band together with retailers to create products with zero packaging waste or 100 percent recycling or reuse and refill in-store, enabling consumers to choose to be “zero heroes.” The ocean could use some Avengers. Personally, I am rooting for Aquaman to step up.  

Change the World 2019: Where Business Creates Virtuous Circles

You might not expect modern corporations to tackle an urgent problem of the 21st century by looking back to the 1950s. But that’s what one group of companies is doing with a new service called Loop, whose backers refer to its approach as “the milkman model.” As that Leave It to Beaver–era nickname implies, Loop delivers supermarket and drugstore staples—including toothpaste, detergent, mayonnaise, and ice cream—to consumers’ homes in durable, reusable containers. It’s a “zero waste” initiative, an effort to alleviate the planet’s plastic-pollution crisis. Several consumer-goods giants are Loop partners, including Unilever and Nestlé (which are packaging their brands in Loop’s bottles and tubes) and retailers Kroger and Walgreens. The company that conceived Loop, however, and will distribute, clean, and refill all those containers, is tiny TerraCycle, a 302-employee startup in Trenton, N.J., whose CEO, Tom Szaky, founded the business 18 years ago in his Princeton dorm room. TerraCycle holds the No. 10 spot on Fortune’s fifth annual Change the World list. The list honors companies that recognize public health, environmental, economic, and social problems as major challenges—but also as opportunities to initiate a so-called virtuous circle. They understand that doing good for society and the planet can help them bring in more revenue, which can help them do more good, in a self-reinforcing loop. The TerraCycle project embodies another kind of virtuous circle: As the threats posed by pollution become increasingly urgent, more companies are embracing the idea of a “circular economy,” one in which products last longer and are close to 100% recyclable. That idea animates Daisy, Apple’s iPhone-repurposing robot (No. 16); the reusable “smart grid” circuitry manufactured by French giant Schneider Electric (No. 9); and many other innovations featured here. Expanding opportunities for your own employees can create another positive loop. That ideal guides $514 billion retailer Walmart (No. 5), which is paying for higher education for thousands of its employees, and $398 million restaurant chain MOD Pizza (No. 28), which has built its workforce around formerly incarcerated people and others who struggle to get hired elsewhere. We selected the 2019 list in collaboration with our expert partners at Shared Value Initiative, a consultancy that helps companies apply business skills to social problems. As MOD shows, small companies are just as capable as multinationals of fitting that bill. This year’s smaller candidates were particularly potent. Our 52 honorees include at least nine companies with less than $1 billion in annual revenue. “Small” doesn’t mean “money-losing,” however. These companies here have built their do-gooder ideas into real business models, and are either turning a profit with their help or have credible plans for doing so. (Please see more about our methodology here.) The Change the World list doesn’t score companies on their charitable generosity, nor does it rate them on some cosmic scale of good and bad. It celebrates the nexus where daring ideas overlap with the desire to make the world better. Loop, which has signed up 80,000 customers in the U.S. and Europe since its launch in May, sits in that sweet spot. It’s not going to make the Great Pacific Garbage Patch disappear. But be patient: Many world-changing ideas start small.

Zero Waste Packaging: Real Sustainability at Last

Hellmans Organic Jar Loop containers   Loop refillable deodorant packaging Unilever plastic packaging Our single-use disposable packaging world is about to change. And this time the change is being fueled by consumer demand. Witness the backlash against plastics with the ubiquitous refillable metal water bottle in everyone’s hands, the ban of single-use plastic bags in New York, California (and elsewhere), and the focus on how our oceans are overflowing — not with fish, but with tons of plastic. Efforts to recycle are also proving too difficult and costly to be effective and don’t address the root cause of the issue. But, aside from single-use packaging being bad for the environment, it simply can’t deliver on truly great and entirely new brand experiences unconstrained by the cost of goods (i.e. fretting over fractions of pennies in material costs). With consumer acceptance growing, we can now view packaging as durable rather than disposable, and offer solutions that are truly sustainable while delivering usage experiences never before possible. One example is Loop, the zero-waste platform announced at the World Economic Forum, formed by a coalition of major consumer product manufacturers including Procter & Gamble, Nestle, PepsiCo, Unilever, etc. With pilot programs rolling out in New York this past May, the circular shopping platform features products in durable packages that are delivered, consumed, and then returned back to the manufacturer to be cleaned and refilled, and sent out again. This major shift in ownership of the package from the consumer to the brand is a ticket to unfettered imagination in consumer experience and sustainability. The package essentially becomes an asset and can be viewed and designed as a device. This opens the door to a myriad of opportunities and innovation, unlocking technology that can change the experience of the user in ways never before possible. Brands can rethink what their package does and how the consumer uses it, such as a pill package that reminds you when to take or reorder pills, detect when a food has expired (say goodbye to the smell test), automatically order more product when its running low, or self-seal to insure freshness. While initial package costs are more, with each reuse, the cost splits in half and, importantly, the consumer is not throwing it away. TerraCycle, the parent company of Loop, calculated the total impact of the packaging and found that it’s between 50-75% better for the environment than conventional alternatives. Jasmin Druffner, (durable packaging developer, Loop Global), acknowledges, “Loop is a groundbreaking platform that goes against the grain. But, it gives brands an opportunity to rethink how consumers view them through their packaging.” (See sidebar). Whereas it used to be convenience and ease of use that dominated the landscape, today consumers are more than happy to bring their own reusable bags to shop while demanding that Starbucks get rid of single-use plastic straws. Here are three ways that brands and packaging teams can approach this successfully:
  1. Inspire your team with the possibilities. This is the chance to help them imagine an entirely new consumer experience is possible. What can be done for consumers to change their experience with the brand and differentiate it from the competition? For the Loop initiative, Häagen-Dazs has developed a refillable stainless steel ice cream tub that delivers a better experience by keeping the product colder longer. According to Tommy See Tho, packaging and design manager at Nestlé, “The feature resonates well with test consumers and contributes to the “freshness” of the product.” (See sidebar.)
The initial launch will reach thousands of consumers in New York and Paris. Reusable packages have the potential to allow technological features that make them more “intelligent,” able to anticipate user needs, and many other things we didn’t imagine possible. Think of it as a chance to deliver something to consumers that is really important to them — even an experience tailored to their unique lifestyle.
  1. Quantify the result to insure leadership support. Make sure your team has created real value for your consumer, and not just a gimmick. Usability studies and in home usage tests provide a window into the real world. Also, collecting usage data directly from the package can unlock quantitative evaluation tools only dreamed of in the past! Think of this as designing an asset, so that it can be robustly engineered.
  1. Identify suppliers early on to insure best implementation. Many existing packaging components are composed of plastics that may be difficult to clean and reuse. New global manufacturing partners may need to be part of an innovative solution. Finding the right partner and utilizing the right technology is key. Getting them involved early in the design process ensures a smooth and quick transition into production.
Transitioning from a use and toss packaging model to a durable package shouldn’t be seen as difficult or expensive but instead an opportunity for your team to innovate at a level never before seen in your category. The durable packaging movement is an opportunity for packaging professionals everywhere to be part of a truly sustainable product/package model that can have a tremendous impact in the world. Get out and inspire your teams to be a part of it!

Can brands avoid backlash as sustainability scrutiny piles up?

Big businesses are some of the world's largest producers of waste, and they're under mounting pressure to craft strategies to address the issue. Experts advise that actions speak louder than words.
Brands face a tough question as consumer calls for sustainability pile up: How do large producers of waste craft an environmentally conscious strategy that's authentic and won't create backlash? Experts advise that actions speak louder than words, which might be a hard pill to swallow for engagement-minded marketers. Campaigns against product materials like single-use plastics have swelled in recent years alongside problems like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a mass of detritus floating between California and Hawaii that recent estimates peg at being twice the size of Texas. Many marketers today are centering their strategies on social causes that resonate with young consumers, and have gravitated toward sustainability. Others are under mounting public pressure to change, including McDonald's, which earlier this summer announced it would reduce the amount of plastic used in Happy Meal toys in response to a viral Change.org petition. "It's really feeding into everybody's [communications]," Oliver Yonchev, U.S. managing director at the agency Social Chain, told Marketing Dive. "I would say 10-15% of what we do has some environmental messaging attached to it." But the reality is that sustainable messaging comes with the risk of sparking accusations of "green-washing," the idea of broadcasting positive environmental values and goals without living them out. It's an insult that's been lobbed for decades, but one that's found fresh relevance as a sister term, "woke-washing," gains traction in the purposeful branding era. The key to navigating the sustainability minefield, according to experts, is a larger degree of self-awareness among brands, specifically knowing when to let sustainable decisions speak for themselves versus amplifying claims in marketing that may not always measure up. Sustainability also must ladder down into all areas of an organization, including on the operational and business-to-business end, which can be overlooked. "To really survive the change curve here, brands need to break their internal silos to redesign product alongside the other zero waste 5Rs — it's not a marketing [issue alone]," Kathryn Callow, a futurist and former Unilever global media manager, said in emailed comments to Marketing Dive, referencing the principles of refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot. "The list of brands in sustainability is endless[,] the list of brands making genuine impact is short," Callow said.

No time to waste

Even organizations renowned for their purpose-driven marketing have been accused of worsening the sustainability crisis. Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Mondelēz, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo were cited among the top-10 corporate contributors to global plastic pollution in a study conducted by Greenpeace and the Break Free From Plastic Movement last year. "The list of brands in sustainability is endless[,] the list of brands making genuine impact is short."   Kathryn Callow Futurist But any business operating at a significant scale is susceptible to these problems. "The bigger you are, the more likely that you've not got the cleanest of records," Yonchev said. "That's just a universal truth." Greater attention is being paid to sustainability as vocal generations like Gen Z and millennials hold brands to higher standards. Nielsen recently found that 81% of surveyed global consumers across gender and generational lines felt strongly that businesses should help better the environment. "If a company's business model is inherently environmentally destructive, and its only effort to be sustainable stops at occasional philanthropy or window dressing, then today's consumers will see right through it," Christine Arena, founder and CEO of Generous, a marketing and production company focused on cause-led campaigns, said in emailed comments. Ways to keep brands accountable are also proliferating in the social media age. "Technology plays a big piece," Anthony Rossi, VP global business development at Loop, a startup arm of the private recycling firm TerraCylce, told Marketing Dive. "People are watching, and there are ways to track the companies to make sure they're on track with what they've promised." Lawmakers, too, are taking notice: City-level bans on single-use plastic itemslike straws and bags have picked up momentum in states like Florida, California and Washington. "Businesses inherently want to serve their customers and be relevant," Yonchev said. "But equally, I think they're cognizant that legislation is changing state-by-state." The threat of accelerating climate change, while more closely linked to carbon dioxide emissions, is also affecting the conversation around product sustainability. As with materials like single-use plastics, corporations are some of the biggest polluters of the atmosphere, and yet few are going to the lengths needed to curb their impact, according to Arena. "I'd like to see more CEOs speak out about climate change and more broadly advocate for climate solutions," Arena said. "It is both morally and economically risky for corporations to shirk this responsibility, and continue with business as usual."

Tangible change

Reactions to these trends are becoming more tangible: PepsiCo and Coca-Cola last month both cut ties to the Plastics Industry Association, a lobbying group representing manufacturers. They joined other massive companies like Clorox and Ecolab, CNBC reported. Aquafina, a PepsiCo water brand, plans to start packaging some products in aluminum in 2020. The coffee giant Starbucks has started to phase out disposable plastic straws, with plans to be rid of them in all stores next year. A desire for more direct solutions has resulted in broader business initiatives that appear to be catching consumers' attention as well. After three years in development and extensive testing, Loop formally launched earlier this yearwith initial partners including P&G and Nestlé, which are founding investors, along with Mondelēz, PepsiCo, Unilever, Danone and others. "It's not some 2030 transition. That was a really important carrot to dangle in front of the brands."   Anthony Rossi VP of global business development, Loop The service offers sustainable packaging for an array of products from its partners, from diapers to razor blades, that are delivered, picked up and cleaned for reuse by Loop. The most important hook for the service was the baked-in infrastructure and immediacy of availability, according to Rossi. "It's not some 2030 transition," Rossi said. "That was a really important carrot to dangle in front of the brands, that this exists today. I'm not asking you to wait six years to try something."

'Disney-fying' sustainability

Loop, which is now available in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Maryland, has more than 100 products available, with more added every week, per Rossi. Some partners, such as P&G, have worked with TerraCycle for years — relationships that helped to lay the groundwork for Loop's rollout. "Operationally speaking, this is the biggest bite of the cake we've taken," Rossi said of Loop. "In its essence, what we're asking all of our partners to do is change the way that they operate, from the packaging they use to how they fill it, how it's being sold." Early signs seem promising, even if the availability is small. "The larger players getting involved with [startups] like [Loop] are welcome[,] but it's limited scale," Callow said. Loop's employee headcount could match its parent organization, which has 21 offices around the globe, according to Rossi. Five thousand people are currently registered for the service, but 90,000 people are on a waiting list to join, he added. "If the consumer isn't going to pay for this and want this, then none of it works," Rossi said. "The demand is there." Marketing the service is still complex. Loop has a dedicated unit that works with dozens of partners to integrate the platform's messaging into their brand equity, communications and advertisements. But the heavy lifting still falls on those partners' shoulders, since Loop doesn't have the necessary degree of consumer-facing awareness. "TerraCycle as a brand, it's not Disney," Rossi said. He compared the company to a firm like Intel, which supplies other companies with the technology to power the hardware consumers actually purchase. "People know Häagen-Dazs a lot more than they know Loop," Rossi said. "We want the brands to tell the story because they have the reach."

Embedding authenticity

Beyond consumer-facing marketing and packaging, expectations to be more sustainable are manifesting in less publicly visible arenas. The Freeman Company, an agency that helps clients design and run corporate events, has seen consumer-facing brands push harder for sustainable offerings after feeling pressure to go green. "There are so many sustainable decisions, as long as you make them at the beginning, and you're designing it in, it's embedded in your thinking," Melinda Kendall, Freeman's SVP of sustainability, told Marketing Dive. "Most sustainable decisions are cheaper; they involve doing less of something." Newer digital tools open interesting avenues on the sustainability front. Tactics like digital signage, immersive technology and mobile apps not only reduce the use of materials like paper and plastic, but also naturally fit into a demand for convenience that was growing regardless of sustainability trends, according to Kendall. "Most sustainable decisions are cheaper; they involve doing less of something."   Melinda Kendall SVP of sustainability, Freeman Company "A lot of the growth lately has been in virtual reality and augmented reality," Kendall said of events-planning. "The more we can use technology to make that experience realistic, it's a very sustainable path." But like Callow, Kendall reinforced that a truly sustainable approach must be integrated across an organization internally, both for B2B and consumer-first brands. It's a cause that extends far beyond marketing and is more nuanced than many common definitions of the word suggest. "Often times, when people think about sustainability or purpose and all of that, they think in terms of it equaling recycling. All I have to do is put things in recycling bins," Kendall said. "That's good — that's better than landfill — and it's the least sustainable thing you can do out of a set of like six."