Posts with term P&G X

In Growing Loop, Tom Szaky Continues Quest to Make TerraCycle Irrelevant

In Tom Szaky’s Utopian worldview, the waste-management company he founded in 2001 would cease to exist, in part because all consumer goods products would be available in reusable containers. And so as part of its progress to make itself irrelevant, TerraCycle announced last month its Loop product-reuse initiative has become available in every ZIP code in the continental United States.

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

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

Reusable CPG Packaging Platform Loop Expands Nationwide

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


Take a look in your garbage and recycling bins: I bet a majority of it is food-related packaging and disposables. As a sustainability writer, advocate, consultant, and educator, I encourage people to check out their garbage (yeah, I’m that person), and one of the things that often comes up in conversation is how to shop in bulk and avoid packaging in our increasingly scarce grocery hauls.   Zero-waste grocery options are popping up all over and are making it easier than ever to shop waste-free. These shops and delivery services streamline the process of shopping and make living zero-waste a lot more feasible for the average consumer.   Package-free grocery stores like Precycle in Brooklyn and Nada in Vancouver are known for offering produce, spices, nuts, and even milk and eggs without packaging. According to Nada’s website, they’ve diverted over 30,000 containers from ending up in landfill or the recycling stream. They also house an in-store zero-waste cafe that uses surplus from the produce department, creating a circular economy within their shop.   And for those who like the convenience of shopping from home (many of us these days), Denver-based zero-waste delivery service Infinity Goods was founded by Ashwin Ramdas and co-founder Dani McClean to make zero-waste shopping as easy as possible.   “Dani and I were trying to live a plastic-free life — but with groceries, it was almost impossible,” explains Ramdas. “So much food comes in single-use packaging, we had to give up many of the foods we loved like pasta and ice cream, not to mention lugging around containers to multiple stores that had limited selections. We knew that if it was this difficult for us, it was that difficult for anyone trying to cut down on waste.”   Infinity Goods offers same-day delivery and provides provisions well beyond the bulk section, delivering hard-to-find package free items such as tofu, energy bars, and even ice cream (yes, they delivered me vegan, gluten-free ice cream in a mason jar and my life was basically complete). You save your jars, bags, and even recyclables and give them back on your next delivery, the company ensuring they get reused, properly recycled, or composted if necessary.   While Infinity Goods is currently local to Denver, other initiatives are reaching across the country and the world. The Wally Shop started as a zero-waste delivery service in New York City, and recently raised over $50k to expand its service nationwide.   Loop, founded by TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky, was started with the mission to make it as easy as possible for consumers to shop in a low-waste manner for their usual goods. Launched in 2019, Loop has partnered with some of the largest companies that are making consumer packaged goods such as Unilever, P&G, and PepsiCo, as well as smaller brands like Burlap & Barrel and Melanin Essentials, to offer some of the most popular food, beverages, supplements, and beauty products in reusable goods. Once you’re done, you simply put your items back in the tote and they pick them up.   This both lowers the barrier to entry and allows consumers to keep enjoying their favorite products in a zero-waste manner. Loop is currently available in the mid-Atlantic, as well as select regions in Europe, with hopes to expand. While zero-waste grocery shopping has felt pretty niche for some time now, with the proliferation of options and larger companies getting on board, zero-waste delivery services such as Loop and Infinity Goods could well rival Amazon’s delivery services.   The important part is that shopping this way be simple — or maybe even easier — for the consumer. “We want to shift the conversation away from personal consumer responsibility,” Ramdas explains. “We will never solve the pollution crisis if we burden each individual with the responsibility of waste management.” And to do my part, I’ll continue to take my ice cream in mason jars, front door style, thank you very much.  


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

2020 Will Be The Year Major Brands (Finally) Rethink Packaging

This year, Coca Cola unveiled a bottle made from 25% recycled plastic while PepsiCo announced it will be investing $25 million in recycling infrastructure. As mbg recently reported in our natural beauty trends forecast, Dove also switched to bottles made from 100% recycled plastic in 2019, and its parent brand, Unilever, announced that it will use half as much new plastic in its products by 2025. Meanwhile, Olay began testing refillable pods for its most popular moisturizer. For mindbodygreen's brand-new line of nr+ supplements—released as a limited-edition run last month, to be launched in broader distribution in January 2020—we've packaged the recyclable glass bottles in completely compostable trays, made from mushrooms. Public awareness and unrest about plastic pollution have been building for years (hello, straw bans), but it wasn't until 2019 that major corporations really started to do something about it.  

What's driving the shift away from plastic packaging?

A new service called Loop has helped kick-start the push away from plastic. Launched in May of this year in Paris and a handful of states across the northeastern U.S, the service allows people to shop for grocery, household, and personal care products from brands like Tide, Febreze, and Crest. The kicker? For a small markup, these goods are shipped out in durable, reusable packaging that can be sent back in to be reused and refilled. Loop is a direct rebuttal to the idea that recycling can save us from the waste crisis: "Recycling is like Tylenol: You take it when you have a headache, but there are better ways to never get the headache to begin with," Tom Szaky, the CEO of TerraCycle and Loop, told mbg last year. In the six months since launch, Loop has kicked off in another five states and plans to enter six new markets before early 2021: The U.K., Canada, Germany, Japan, Australia, and potentially the West Coast of the U.S. Loop is also onboarding about one new brand to their platform every business day. "There's been a lot of organic demand from consumers. We just hear nonstop from people that they're really excited about the service, and they want to see it available in their state," explains Heather Crawford, the VP of marketing and e-commerce at Loop. Upward of 85,000 people have signed on to the waitlist so far, and they're not the only ones who want to see the service take off: Crawford has seen that the massive names—the Unilevers and P&Gs of the world—are eager to get involved and rethink the delivery of their products to keep up with the times. When mbg heard Unilever's CEO Alan Jope speak at this year's Climate Week NYC, he confirmed that Unilever is working to make its business more environmentally responsible— a change that investors are insisting on more often. "I'm noticing our investors increasingly asking us to run our business for the long term. This idea that the Street is only interested in short-term performance, I don't accept," Jope said. "We're going to see capital inflows into responsible business and capital outflows out of polluting and carbon-dense industries. It's that simple." For another signal that the low-waste life is trending in the business realm, we can look to Williamsburg's Package Free Shop: Opened in 2017 by zero-waste poster child Lauren Singer, the shop sells health, beauty, and living essentials that are free of single-use plastic parts and packaging (think shampoo bars wrapped in paper and compostable vegetable brushes). The company's recent $4.5 million seed funding round proves that investors are confident that people beyond the trendy Brooklyn 'hood want to opt into its zero-waste ethos. "In the past year, more people than ever before have realized the impact that single-use plastic and waste has on the environment," Singer tells mbg. The recent funding will help the Package Free team work toward their mission to make zero-waste products hyper-accessible to the average Joe or Jane: "Our goal is to manufacture products that are both the most sustainable ones on the market and are as accessible and convenient as buying a Unilever or P&G product."

All signs point to more packaging innovation in 2020.

David Feber, a partner at McKinsey & Company who works primarily in the consumer packaged goods space, tells mbg, "Sustainability is combining with other powerful trends such as e-commerce and digitalization to drive major disruption in packaging over the next several years in the consumer products space." This year, a McKinsey report on Gen Z buying habits found that this "hypercognitive" generation, born between 1995 and 2010, will likely only push the needle toward more sustainable packaging solutions as they come of age. And sustainable packaging is just the start: A report by BBMG and GlobeScan predicts that in order to stay relevant with the next generation, companies will have to take more mission-driven action. "While Gen Z is ready to champion brands who show bravery on the issues that matter, they are also the first to call bullshit when they see it, especially when they see brands promoting their commitment to 'doing well by doing good' while staying silent about the negative impacts at the heart of the business practices that make their success possible," it reads.  

Coming Full Circle: Sustainable Retail In A Post-Recycling Age

In 2020, Colgate-Palmolive will finally deliver a recyclable toothpaste container. After more than two decades of mounting concern around plastic waste and discussions about sustainable initiatives, the 213-year-old company announced it would release a fully recyclable tube under its Tom's of Main brand, with plans to convert all products to 100% recyclable packaging by 2025: “Building a future to smile about means finding new packaging solutions that are better for the planet, but until now there hasn’t been a way to make toothpaste tubes part of the recycling stream,” said Justin Skala, Chief Growth & Strategy Officer for Colgate-Palmolive, in a statement.   But is this move by Colgate too little, too late? By 2025, the focus of corporate sustainability will have shifted, evolving from the use of recyclable materials to creating circular business strategies.   While Colgate pottered with laboratory testing, the recycling market collapsed. The exchange rate between the U.S. and China made a lot of recycling unprofitable, leading a number of municipalities to stop their recycling collection altogether. With the collapse of the international market, cities like Philadelphia have had to turn to burning much of their recyclable waste.   Compounding this problem is the fact that the majority of recyclable plastics doesn’t get recycled anyway. Only 9% of plastic packaging in the U.S. is recycled, 12% is burned and the rest ends up in a landfill—or even the sea. And while Adidas creates sneakers out of Pacific Ocean plastic and Walmart’s Asda uses similar debris to pave a parking lot, these programs are just delaying the inevitable: society ultimately has to deal with that plastic when it turns up in the waste system again.   What use is a new tee made from a mix of upcycled cotton and recycled fishing nets anyway when the used product needs to be processed again? Maybe we need to stop differentiating ‘single-use' from ‘recyclable' and come to the conclusion that nearly all plastic is used once. If we can grasp this notion, then we might be able to judge how corporations offload the responsibility to efficiently recycle on our local governments, which could seem an unfair and undue burden on them and our taxes.   Some retailers are already taking matters into their own hands. “We’re working with our suppliers and packaging manufacturers, looking at alternatives to plastics,” says Karen Graley, packaging manager at U.K. grocer Waitrose,” while the CEO of REI co-op explains, “We are in the throes of an environmental crisis that threatens not only the next 81 years of REI, but the incredible outdoor places that we love.” His recent call-to-action letter reads, “Climate change is the greatest existential threat facing our co-op. I believe we do not have the luxury of calling climate change a political issue. This is a human issue. And we must act now.”   When our researchers at PSFK studied hundreds of new ideas and signals developing within the sustainability space, we identified several emerging short- and long-term trends. Over the next 12-24 months, the focus for corporate sustainability programs dealing with product waste is likely to be what is defined as the Circular Economy. Beyond that, we spotted trends around new ways to avoid waste and inefficiencies. In this article, we explore the former set of trends and share them in a framework to help you as a business executive or even a consumer to consider how to approach sustainability.   No doubt, you’ve already read stories and reports on the Circular Economy, a concept around a cycle where we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from those resources while in use, then recover and regenerate those resources at the end of their lives. By conducting pattern recognition on the latest ideas developing within this space, we identified a number of key pillars: receive, recycle, repair, refill, rent and resell. As corporations look to evolve their sustainability efforts, these six themes will guide them in developing a more holistic strategy. First we define the pillars, then explore what they look like in practice.   1. Receiving Receiving involves retailers and brands facilitating the simple return of their products and packaging at the end of what their owner thinks is their useful life. Sometimes this collection happens in the store, but at other times this gathering of used product may be more proactive. These materials are used to make new products, passed to external facilities to recycle, or end up in a landfill—which is currently the most likely result.   2. Recycling Building off of the notion of receiving, recycling concerns the reuse of materials as new products that the retailer and brand can leverage as part of their commercial business. The passing on of consumed materials to an external recycling facility or partner is not a part of this strategy.   3. Repairing Repairing involves fixing or upcycling product so that it either has a longer life or can be sold as new. This pillar includes both the servicing of products owned by customers and the repair of previously owned items.   4. Reselling Reselling concerns the creation of marketplaces that allow retailers or consumers to sell previously owned products.   5. Refilling Refilling is a system of avoiding packaging by expecting consumers to replenish the core product with their own reusable vessel. This creates efficiencies in production (mainly, bulk orders) and improves the frequency of brand-consumer interaction.   6. Renting Renting is the short-term loan of products so that they can be reused by different consumers. The items are therefore more frequently employed and not left in storage, plus there is less demand for virgin product. Pillars defined, now let’s take a closer look at how this framework for sustainability can manifest in business:


When it comes to the ways retailers and brands are facilitating the simple return of their products and packaging, there are several tactics. Sometimes stores choose simplicity and accept returns on premise. For example, U.K. grocer Sainsbury’s is planning to accept milk and glass soda bottles as part of a drive to halve the amount of plastic packaging it uses over the next six years. Department store John Lewis is also now taking back beauty packaging, which is traditionally hard to recycle. Levi Strauss has a take-back program that sells wares to a third-party who transforms old denim into insulation for community buildings.   But how effective is that drop box by the store door? It assumes consumers will remember to carry their products into a store—when on most trips, they still forget their reusable grocery bags. Some firms are therefore incentivizing the returns: Patagonia will accept any good-condition product that is not a “next-to-skin garment” and provide a gift card for up to $100. Similarly, Canadian outdoor clothing company Arc’teryx has a new program called Rock Solid Used Gear that incentivizes customers to bring their lightly used products back to the store in exchange for a gift card valued at 20% of the item’s original retail price. IKEA Canada also allows customers to “sell back” their gently used furniture to the store and receive store credit. Adidas has a new system in the U.K. called Infinite Play that lets consumers return any branded products purchased within the past five years in exchange for a gift card and loyalty points.       Meanwhile, some companies aren’t just waiting for the shoppers to turn up; they’re going out to get their used product: H&M ran a test earlier this year in New York where it offered Lyft rides to the store for shoppers planning to deliver used product and John Lewis is sending trucks out to collect larger items in the U.K. Vogue Business says that “at a time when brands are finding it increasingly expensive to attract and retain customers, take-back programs are a way to stand out.”


Receiving product doesn’t necessarily imply the recycling and regeneration of materials into new products for the retailer and brand to use in commercial business. There are companies developing enterprise-level strategies when it comes to the pre-recycling stage: For instance, H&M picks up clothing and shoes in more than 60 countries and sells some of the materials back to the companies who made the original clothes. The actual reprocessing of the materials into new product is burdened with challenges, not the least of which is the presence of potentially harmful constituents: The fabric from a used pair of jeans could contain formaldehyde, carcinogenic dyes, toxic heavy metals and more, which poses problem for enterprises looking to avoid including an unknown assortment of nefarious chemicals in the next generation of product. One solution to this issue is implementing new recycling processes: a startup called Evrnu breaks down used fabric into constituent molecules, enabling the isolation of any unwanted materials as well as desired ones, like pure cellulose, for repurposing.


While used items often get shredded and returned as raw ingredients for the product, some companies are fixing, or upcycling, product so that it either has a longer life or can be sold as new.   Luxury U.K. department store Harvey Nichols now has an after-care service called The Restory that offers not only to repair and restore premium items but even “reimagine” them.  After years of criticism, Apple is finally shipping official parts to repair shops that have had to use third-party materials in the past.   Atelier & Repairs is a boutique fashion label that specializes in the remaking of old and used products. Brands like Gap and Deckers have collaborated with them to explore the repair of old hoodies and jeans to create fresh fashion that’s not made of virgin stock. At the announcement of the Gap collaboration, the brand’s Head of Adult Design, John Caruso, told reporters that the partnership with Atelier & Repairs allowed the company to reinterpret and “reimagine their classic styles, lengthening the traditional product life cycle.” California-based b-corp Dhana takes this remake concept further by upcycling a customer’s memories into a new outdoor coat, including their concert tees, Comic-Con costumes and other memorabilia into the lining.   Patagonia seems to be one of the most progressive brands in the repair and remake space, reportedly fixing 100,000 items each year in 72 repair centers globally. Some of these items are now appearing on the site of its sub-brand WornWear, which has an online presence and recently opened its first store in Denver, Colorado. WornWear doesn’t just repair and resell items: the designers also reimagine them by mixing pieces from recycled products they have. Vogue Business reports that the new line doesn’t cannibalize existing sales, but “brings in customers who are, on average, ten years younger than the typical Patagonia shopper.”      


As products get returned, repaired or remade, we’re witnessing the creation of marketplaces that allow retailers or consumers to sell previously owned products. German online fashion retailer Zalando has been testing a second-hand store concept for women's fashion items called Zircle. The store sells used fashion items that were purchased back from customers on their Zalando Wardrobe app. One objective of the test is to understand if the company can reach new customers.   Premium U.K. department store Selfridges has been working with third parties like Vestiaire and Depop to develop shop-in-shops that resell shoppers' apparel. The Vestiaire Collective space also comes with a resale point where customers can deposit items that subsequently appear on the brand’s app for sale.   Online retail platform Farfetch recently launched Second Life, a pilot initiative that allows consumers to resell the designer bags sitting in their wardrobe. “We're on a mission to become the global platform for good in luxury fashion—empowering everyone to think, act and choose positively,” reads their site. “Services like Farfetch Second Life help our customers extend the life of the clothes they buy.”   Meanwhile, with every new purchase, fashion brand Cuyana is including a shipping label that helps consumers send unwanted clothes to reseller thredUP, who will in turn send coupons for every successful resale. “Young shoppers like pre-owned goods for their lower prices and ability to express concern for causes like sustainability,” says fashion editor Lucy McGuire. Research commissioned by thredUP reports that the total secondhand apparel market will reach $51 billion in the next 5 years and will be larger than Fast Fashion in 10 Years.


Retailers and service providers are also providing more ways to refill and restock certain products. U.K. grocer Waitrose has launched trials of its Unpacked system to gauge shoppers’ reactions to packaging-free food and drink options including the use of refills. They encourage shoppers to not only bring along reusable shopping bags but also their containers for filling up with the products during their Unpacked shop. The containers can be any material, size, shape or weight, but if shoppers don’t have anything to hand at home, they're welcome to buy bags/containers in store. Waitrose even encourages customers to bring their own coffee cup to enjoy a brew in the aisles.         In London, The Body Shop now offers a product refill station, while at Bleach London shoppers can buy glass bottles filled with their favorite shampoo and conditioner, then return for refills. To track the growing number of zero-waste/refill stores in the U.K. capital, an advertising agency created the Useless London online map.   On U.S. college campuses, rather than selling new bottles of water, The Coca-Cola Company has been trialling PureFill refill stations. In Sydney, the vegan online retailer Flora&Fauna has a new brick-and-mortar store that offers refills of zero-waste goods.   NYC's fast-casual chain Dig is testing a closed-loop dishware program where restaurant goers receive a reusable bowl and lid with the expectation that they return with it every time they visit the brand's Washington Square Park outpost.   Similar to a pattern observed with receiving, this refill service is not only taking place in the store, but also in the home. Terracycle has been a pioneer in the recycling movement: its Loop system delivers everything in a returnable container. Brands like P&G and retailers like Krueger have partnered with Loop, now letting shoppers enjoy an array of package-free products, including Crest oral rinse, Tide laundry detergent and even Haaen Dazs ice-cream. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive. It's phenomenal how many people have signed up for it,” said Loop co-founder Tom Skazy to PSFK. “Consumers understand that there's a garbage problem. While some prioritize the environmental aspect, others really like the design aspect, and some really like the convenience aspect. When you put all that together, it's a pretty big ecosystem of benefits.”


And finally, brands are also exploring the short-term loan of products so that they can be reused by different consumers. Some of this has been pioneered in the luxury fashion space for a few years now (think services like Rent the Runway), but there are signs of more mainstream options. H&M, for example, has launched its first clothing rental service at a newly refurbished store in Stockholm, following similar efforts by Banana RepublicUrban Outfitters and Ann Taylor Loft. Levi’s is exploring the space through a partnership with Rent The Runway. “For this crowd, consignment sites like thredUP and Poshmark, as well as the rental services, offer a lower-cost way to keep the ‘Gram fresh without hoarding clothes,” writes Ankita Rao in an article entitled ‘Clothes Are Canceled’ on Vice.com.   Rental goes well beyond apparel—IKEA is renting furniture, Lego has the service Netbricks for the rental of its little plastic building blocks—but fashion is where the groundswell is. According to research by GlobalData, the U.S. garment rental market was worth $1 billion in 2018, less than 1% of the total apparel market, but it also grew 24% in that year compared to 5% for the wider clothing market. Different ways to rent, like P2P platforms, are cropping up in the clothing rental space as well: Wardrobe is a just-launched sharing network operating out of local dry cleaners in Manhattan, letting members borrow high-end, designer and even vintage pieces from each other's closets and solving for the common issues around renting like convenience and value.       As retailers evolve beyond the classic Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra to embrace the six pillars described above, they ultimately are moving toward enabling closed-loop systems, embedding sustainability into their business model in a way that merges seamlessness and customer satisfaction with avoidance of waste creation in the first place and repurposing of original materials. This focus is not without good incentive: consumers are a driving factor in the push for true sustainability, wielding their spending power with retailers effecting the changes they want to see. Nielsen found that 81% of surveyed consumers think companies should support improving the environment (this sentiment was particularly strong among millennials and Gen Z), while 50% of CPG growth between 2013 and 2018 came from sustainability-marketed products.   Based on these signals, what could the future look like? A zero-waste restaurant in Brooklyn may give us a glimpse. Mettā re-opened earlier this fall in Fort Greene, partnering with regional farmers to secure ingredients from the source at their peak, concentrating on eco-friendly transportation and preservation methods, and curbing water waste wherever possible. Further, the business purchases electricity from 100% renewable sources, and offsets the 75% of its carbon footprint generated from food production by buying sequestration initiatives, which harness or avoid releasing an equivalent+ amount of carbon into the environment, according to the company's website.       While perhaps a more extreme example, Mettā's viability proves that businesses are taking the next generation of sustainability seriously, moving beyond the ineffectiveness of recycling into an era of inherent sustainability and investing in thoughtful strategies to enable consumption without destruction.   But why should businesses really bother about what a restauranteur is creating in Brooklyn or a grocery store is doing in London? Maybe because a massive population of young, militant people are emerging as potential consumers, who know things can be different and are determined to make them better. They have Greta Thunberg and now there are activists like Feroz Aziz. These passionate minds have better and faster communications tools than your social listening platform can offer and can amass faster than your staff can fire-drill. Moreover, there is infinitely more of them than there are of you, so businesses need to align to a new framework for sustainability and retool for a new set of practices.

Innovation at every level of the supply chain: The future of natural products

Here, leaders at the forefront of the industry explain why brands are more successful when they improve upon the food system as a whole. Working at the farmers market during college, Patrick Mateer was excited by what he saw: consumers and farmers connecting over eager demand for fresh and local food. But he was concerned, too, about the excess that was coming back from the market unsold with no other clear outlet, and about the problem of aligning the daily output of the farm with the weekly opportunity of the market. Attempting to solve these problems for farmers, and meet consumer demand for local, Mateer created Seal the Seasons, a frozen fruit brand hitting the market with an unprecedented model. “We wanted to replicate that same local feel in the grocery store by introducing lines of locally sourced, locally frozen, and locally sold products,” says the company’s COO Alex Piasecki. That means contracting with local farmers, freezing the goods locally and distributing only to markets in the region—all within about a 300-mile radius. On the shelf, the frozen, bagged fruit Seal the Seasons brings to market, is nothing new. The innovation demonstrated is in the way it serves farmers, communities, consumers and retailers behind the product. And this may be the next wave of innovation in the natural products space. “It’s not always about engineering something new,” Piasecki says, “because we can always engineer something new. It’s all about understanding the story and who you’re supporting with your dollars, more so than what you’re buying.” In many ways, this view is the core and founding ethos of the natural and organic products industry, and the influence the industry exerts throughout the U.S. food system is undeniable. But even as innovation and competition in this now $219 billion industry reaches a fever pitch, many experts witness an ironic stagnation in meaningful change. Does the market need more flavor choices in popcorn or more format choices for matcha? Maybe. But what the world urgently needs is innovations that work to regenerate the systems—ecological, financial, cultural and climatic—so threatened by rampant consumption. “We brought this just amazing innovation to the food industry,” Robyn O’Brien says about the natural products industry, “and we’ve reinvented these toxic products, brought them back into this wholesome, nutritious product.” The author, speaker and vice president of impact investing firm rePlant Capital has been tracking the industry throughout her career. “But then we just got stuck, and we kind of kept trying to reinvent ourselves on that wheel. And it just became a wheel that, instead of moving us forward, started spinning in place.” Too much of the industry today, O’Brien believes, is focused on the end-user product. “But if you think about everything it takes to get there, we need innovation at every level, from distribution to packaging, to transportation.” Seal the Seasons may not hit every level, but it is pioneering something meaningfully different in distribution. The company has now replicated its model in six growing regions across the country, working with nearly 60 farmers and selling frozen fruit in 3,000 grocery stores, proving that a local focus doesn’t inhibit a company’s national growth potential. There are clear ecological benefits to its model (Piasecki says each two pounds of fruit eliminates one pound of greenhouse gases when compared to average frozen food), but the motivation for the brand is really in the people it serves: the farmers struggling in a global market, the retailers attempting to satisfy demand for local, and the consumers seeking that local product—whether to support the farmer they met at the farmers market or just to buy American. It’s only going to become more important, Piasecki predicts, as consumers increasingly care “not only what their food is, but where it’s coming from, what it’s treated with, who’s growing it, are they paid a fair wage?” Quality matters, too, and he believes Seal the Seasons delivers on this. But he distinguishes between brand promise and product promise, which is just a matter of quality standards. “Consumers want that product to be great,” he says about the interaction of those promises. “They want that product to be sold to them at a value they think is fair, and they want that product to be produced in a way that is fair to everyone.”

Taking a step back

TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky distinguishes between two different types of innovation. Even when trying to solve big problems, innovators often employ what he calls “twist innovation,” wherein tweaks are made to existing product concepts to make incremental improvements. What inspires Szaky, is what he calls “step back” innovation. By stepping back to look at the problem being solved, Szaky says, innovations can stimulate monumental leaps into the future. “Uber’s a good example, right? It’s not a better cab or a better price, it’s thinking about the concept of mobility within what resources are on the road today,” he says. “Or taking an arbitrary example of oral hygiene, I take a step back and first understand why it is the problem of oral hygiene even exists, what are the causes?” That, he says, is when innovators start thinking about not just the object, but the way the consumer receives it and interactes with it. Once the source problem is understood, he says, “you may land on an answer that doesn’t look like a toothbrush at all.” That would be a unique market advantage compared to a toothbrush “incrementally twisted” to feature new bristles or a better handle. “And I think that’s where you’re going to get the biggest opportunity to succeed, especially as an entrepreneur or a smaller company.”

Package deal

TerraCycle exists to eliminate the very idea of waste through collection and remanufacture programs. This intersects with the food and household goods industry on packaging. After all, even as islands of single-use plastics continue to pollute the oceans, “packaged” remains the middle name of the CPG world. (Indeed, TerraCycle’s programs include working with P&G to package the world’s top-selling shampoo, Head & Shoulders, in recycled ocean plastic.) For TerraCycle’s most ambitious program to date, the team applied a step back approach to packaging, asking why packaging exists and how those needs can be met without giving in to single-use materials. This step back also included a look back. “In the past, garbage didn’t exist,” Szaky says. “Things were reusable, things were beautiful, things were more durable, things were higher quality.” All major positives, he says, especially when compared to the disposable, low-quality packages we use today that don’t often deliver a particularly good consumer experience beyond the most basic function. The exploration resulted in Loop, a bold plan to create packaging that is both durable and appealing to consumers and can be returned, cleaned and reused—not recycled—at the same value level again and again, and to build it with the biggest players in household goods: P&G, Nestle, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Clorox and Unilever. This required “thinking beyond the three-dimensional design of the product and the two-dimensional artwork that adorns it,” Szaky says, and tackling the system behind it. Each of these brands, and others, are participating to create what Szaky calls an ecosystem, and thereby a critical mass of offerings consumers can interact with—something he believes is required to create the momentum necessary for Loop to be successful. Presently the programs are handled by mail, but eventually will involve major retailers selling goods and collecting empties. In other words, not settling for a new twist on packaging has the potential to be, Szaky says, “a monumental reinvention of the very concept of that idea in a very futuristic way.” The program is off to a good start. Since its launch early this year—with a few hundred products in a handful of cities—Project Loop has engaged over 10,000 consumers. “The world is falling deeply out of love with packaging,” Szaky says. “Seeing the negative, losing the delight on the positives, it’s an existential crisis for packaging at the moment, which is the perfect time to open and question all the foundations around it.” Any potential success is a product of timing, Szaky says. “If you go back to the 1970s and 1980s, people were so in love with [packaging], you couldn’t foundationally have those discussions, because people didn’t see the problems. They had the love but not the negative.” Now, he says, everything is open to change. “It’s a massive ask of these brands,” Szaky says, “to ask them to reinvent everything: how they account for physical product itself, how it’s filled, the entire economic backbone to it, so on and so forth. But now with this particular time where we are, those conversations are on the table. Enthusiastically.”

Now’s the time

Innovation, of course, is always a question of timing. Changes in the collective consciousness make way for new opportunities to solve more fundamental problems. Are sufficient numbers of consumers eager enough to embrace the motivation behind the innovation? Are we ready to reassess some of the fundamental assumptions of capitalism? “In a way, it’s the same problem Wall Street has, where it’s just this insatiable drive to consistently be on your earnings model, quarter after quarter after quarter,” says O’Brien. “And when you get into that mindset of demanded, extracted growth, we pay a price.” O’Brien would like the industry to go deeper, like Seal the Seasons and TerraCycle have. “The invitation is to really think of the entire supply chain, the entire sourcing process, and think about ways we can do this in a smarter, more holistic way,” she says. “That’s the higher calling. I mean, that’s really what we’ve been called to do in the industry, is to innovate on the food system, not just the food product.”

Clean Up, Aisle 3

The home cleaning market has been saddled with lackluster growth for years. New players, with new ideas, hope to shake up this $3.4 billion category. Clean Up, Aisle 3 The only thing worse than cleaning the home is purchasing cleaning products, a process that wastes time and resources, according to detractors. No wonder that the newest ideas in home cleaning have less to do with cleaning spills than cleaning up the buying process. While few people admit to enjoy cleaning their homes, there’s no denying that the home cleaning category, when taken together, is a giant business. According to IRI, household cleaner sales in grocery, drug, mass market, military and select club and dollar retailers, rose 1.2% to more than $3.46 billion for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 8, 2019. Of course, some segments performed better than others. For example, all-purpose cleaner/disinfectant sales rose 4.7% to nearly $1.3 billion, but national brand managers should temper their enthusiasm, considering that private label sales surged more than 35% during the period. Oven and appliance cleaners and degreasers also outpaced overall industry growth, rising 8.3% to more than $203 million. The category has been a boon for Procter & Gamble, as its sales jumped more than 58% during the period, according to IRI. Meanwhile, sales were flat in multimillion-dollar categories like toilet bowl cleaners/deodorizers. But with sales limping along with a growth rate lower than the population growth, some entrepreneurs insist that the category is ripe for dramatic change through simplification. According to the founders of Truman’s, a new line of cleaning products, the cleaning process has become extremely complicated with a variety of formulas, SKUs, colors and scents. Their answer is four spray cleaners that work effectively on a variety of surfaces. There’s Everything And The Kitchen Sink kitchen cleaner, Floors Truly floor cleaner, More Shower To You bathroom cleaner and The Glass is Always Cleaner glass cleaner. What’s more, all four formulas come in concentrated cartridges. Consumers fill and refill spray bottles using water and cleaner formulas that are about the size of a Lifesavers package. It all adds up to a big savings in packaging and shipping costs—issues that have moved front and center with consumers. For Truman’s co-founders, reinventing an existing business model is nothing new. Jon Bostock and Alex Reed co-founded Truman’s after shaking up the staid industrial fan business. Bostock is the former president and COO of Big Ass Fans (BAF), which designs and sells large fans and lighting systems for industrial, commercial and farm use. Reed was BAF’s global marketing director. BAF was sold at the end of 2017, but Bostock and Reed wanted to do something entrepreneurial together. “We believe in the direct-to-consumer model and innovative products, and we felt that cleaning had been left behind,” Reed told Happi. “The supply chain is broken; products are primarily water, so companies are basically shipping and warehousing a small amount of active.” Problems continued once palettes are unloaded and products are placed on retail store shelves, according to Reed. “With so many unnecessary cleaners and fragrances, it is all very confusing,” he insisted. “No brand was born in the digital age of listening to the consumer. The category needed to be reimagined throughout the value chain.” Truman’s is a startup, but in its short existence company executives realized that consumers have an appetite for easy-to-use products that are “non-toxic.” People like to engage with us via social media and our website (www.Trumans.com),” insists Reed. “Household cleaning is a sleepy category and it doesn’t have to be.” In fact, Truman’s woke up Henkel to the possibility of a fun, DTC model. Two months ago, the multinational took a stake in the Louisville, KY-based startup. With the minority investment in Truman’s, Henkel is taking over the role as lead investor in a seed round totaling $5 million. “Convenience and sustainability today are top-of-mind for an increasing number of today’s consumers and we continuously advance our portfolio while addressing these topics. Specifically, when it comes to packaging, Henkel pursues ambitious targets for sustainable packaging to promote a circular economy and reduce plastic waste,” said Robert Günther, corporate director, Henkel Ventures, in statement. “We look forward to gaining insights from the Truman’s team, as well as supporting them with our expertise and resources.” The feeling is definitely mutual, said Reed, who noted that Henkel has broad manufacturing capabilities and international distribution. “We wanted to do more than take a paycheck,” he recalled. “Henkel has expertise in international trade and compliance, and has new technology, too. Now we have access to it.” Will Henkel ultimately offer the founders a buyout? Not necessarily. “Henkel’s venture arm made the investment and they want to see the value of the investment increase; this isn’t an acquisition nor is it a path to acquisition,” explained Reed. “We aren’t seeking new funds at this time, but it shows that the multinationals are interested (in a new model).” New from P&G Multinationals want new, whether its home grown or brought inside. Procter & Gamble expanded the Mr. Clean franchise earlier this year with two new formulas. Clean Freak is said to have three times the cleaning power of conventional all-purpose cleaners, and acts on contact to remove 100% of dirt, grease and grime leaving nothing behind but a perfect shine, according to Mary Johnson, a spokesperson for Procter & Gamble. The brand also launched Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Sheets that have Magic Eraser’s cleaning power but are thin and flexible. “Recently, we’ve focused on designing more plant-based products, to meet consumer needs and help increase our use of renewable materials,” explained Johnson. “We’ve introduced a plant-based portfolio in Fabric Care, with Tide purclean, Downy Nature Blends, Dreft purtouch and Gain Botanicals, and we’ve launched Home Made Simple, a plant-based home care & cleaning line designed to meet EPA Safer Choice and USDA Standards.” The Home Made Simple line includes detergent, fabric softener, multipurpose cleaner, hand soap and dish soap. According to P&G research, about 8% of consumers are committed to a lifestyle that includes natural products, but up to 76% of consumers are interested in trying such products. About 24% of consumers aren’t interested in naturals. Cleaner products that help consumers clean their homes has other benefits, too. “Consumers across the country are increasingly tapping into the mental clarity and peace of mind that comes from not only a clean home, but from the act of cleaning itself,” observed Johnson. “Most consumers are aware of the physical benefits of a good clean, but more and more consumers are turning to cleaning as a way to clear their minds, take a pause from the hectic pace of daily life and use that as a moment of ‘me time.’” Johnson pointed to the new phenomenon of “clean with me” videos has caught fire on YouTube. These videos, which literally take the viewer around a stranger’s home as they clean it, have been viewed more than 200 million times, with more than 5,000 new video uploads in the past few months alone. She told Happi that for P&G brands, sustainability comes to life in everyday moments, like washing laundry and doing dishes. “For example, as more and more people strive to adopt resource-efficient habits, it becomes increasingly important to use products designed to perform in the toughest conditions. If you’re washing clothes in shorter, colder cycles, you need a detergent like Tide, that’s been designed with a specific enzyme to clean in the quickest, coldest wash. If you want to use less water to get clean dishes, you need a product that doesn’t require a pre-rinse, like Cascade, which lets you skip the rinse and save up to 15 gallons of water per load. If you’re using a lower performing product and something doesn’t get clean, chances are you’ll compensate for that by washing it again—this time with more water or more product, driving your footprint up. So that’s why we design products like Tide and Cascade specifically to help save water, time and energy, without sacrificing the clean you need.” At the same time, P&G is aware that the way its products are made matters too. So, the company makes its brands at facilities that use 100% renewable wind power electricity and send zero manufacturing waste to landfill. “We’ve helped the industry tackle important challenges like the creation of a recycling stream for colored PET, and we’re working to find alternatives to plastics, like Cascade cartons made from 100% recycled wood pulp,” said Johnson. Finally, P&G is being transparent about what’s in its products and why. Johnson noted that P&G was one of the first firms to participate in the online SmartLabel system, where you can find information about all of P&G’s fabric and home care products listed. “Today, we working to incorporate more of this information onto our packaging to further our transparency efforts and enable you to make informed choices,” she said. SC Johnson has been the leader in ingredient transparency for years. In September, SC Johnson released its 2018/19 Sustainability Report. During the past year, the company has removed 1.7 million kilograms of plastic from primary packaging. Furthermore, 94% of the company’s plastic packaging is now recyclable, reusable or compostable. Recently, SC Johnson let its membership in the Plastics Industry Association expire. In a statement, SCJ said it strongly believes governments should be able to democratically ban plastics if that’s what its citizens want. “Leaving the Plastics Industry Association was a difficult situation because we respect the work they’re doing on recycling and plastic innovation,” a company spokesperson told Happi. “However, its connection to the American Progressive Bag Alliance became confusing. SC Johnson is committed to packaging innovation and post-consumer recycled content and you’ll see more from us in the future.” Are You in the Loop? Whether startup or multinational, nearly every FMCG company is determined to reduce its packaging footprint. Last year, more than 250 companies, including PepsiCo and H&M, pledged to cut back on their use of plastic, including making all of their packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. Packaging is the hot-button issue of the moment and TerraCycle, the creator of Loop, is pushing all the right buttons. Launched in May, Loop is billed as a global circular shopping platform that’s designed to eliminate the idea of waste by transforming the products and packaging of everyday items from single-use to durable, multi-use, feature-packed designs, according to TerraCycle, which developed Loop more than a year ago, introduced the concept at Davos and has expanded from three US states to 11 in six months. Loop is also available in Paris and, most recently, London. “The growth and acceptance has been wonderful,” said Anthony Rossi, VP-global business development, Loop. “We are adding nearly a brand a day.” At press time, Loop offered 150 products and Rossi expected that number to climb to 350 by year-end. So, who’s in the Loop? Well-known companies such as Clorox, P&G, Seventh Generation and Unilever offer an array of cleaners, detergents and personal care products in reusable, returnable, often stainless-steel packaging. Loop delivers products to its members’ doors and picks up the packaging when it’s depleted. Products are reordered online and after seven or eight uses, The Loop process turns positive for the environment, according to TerraCycle. For now, consumers can order products at Loopstore.com, and Kroger and Walgreens are the official retail partners. Loop is just getting started, but there have already been a lot of lessons learned, according to Rossi. “Faster moving products, such as snacks and beverage, create a lot of engagement with consumers,” he told Happi. “On the home care side, autodish pods and all-purpose cleaners have been performing very well.” Getting in the Loop isn’t easy. Suppliers are making heavy investment in packaging and filling lines, but as Rossi notes, “they wouldn’t do it if the reaction wasn’t positive and there wasn’t demand for our products.” Procter & Gamble was one of the first companies to join the Loop program. P&G designed packaging that is both reusable and recyclable for Febreze One, an ultra-durable package for Cascade and a stainless-steel refillable package for Tide Purclean. All three of these solutions are designed for consumer convenience and reuse, and to enable ongoing learning within the new platform, according to Johnson. “While it’s still very early in the test markets, we have seen that consumer appeal increases when the product offering broadens, so we are encouraging more brands to join Loop as we all learn together in this important space,” she said. Coming Next Month A different kind of packaging issue was front and center earlier this year. The household cleaning industry won a key battle in August when the Supreme Court of the State of New York ruled in favor of a lawsuit filed by the Household & Commercial Product Association (HCPA) and the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) against the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) attempts to force cleaning product manufacturers to disclose chemical ingredients and identify any ingredients that appear on authoritative lists of chemicals of concern on their websites. The Court found that the NYSDEC Disclosure Program is “null and void” and remitted the matter back to NYSDEC with the directive to comply with State Administrative Procedure Act. “It was a huge decision,” recalled Steve Caldeira, president and CEO, HCPA. “Any time you litigate against a state it is a big undertaking.” According to Caldeira, the ruling underscores HCPA’s successful strategy to collaborate with other stakeholders on key issues. “The HCPA has a good reputation of being collaborative and inclusive. Engagement and collaboration is our mantra and we will continue to do so.” At the same time, however, Caldeira observed that the association is willing to go it alone when it involves critical issues. Two years ago, when California passed the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act, HCPA engaged in intense negotiations with NGOs and other stakeholders, when many other associations, were neutral on the issue. HCPA also played a leading role in the reauthorization of the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA), which was signed by President Donald J. Trump this Spring and will remain in effect through 2023. Also this year, HCPA earned the 2019 Safer Choice Partner of the Year from the US Environmental Protection Agency. “To win this award is humbling and we are very grateful. It speaks to the vision and mission of our board and the engagement of our membership,” said Caldeira. “We have a lot of big wins, because we have a talented staff, an engaged board and are focused on the right issues.” Of course, more issues are on the horizon. For example, the California legislature adjourned before acting on the Circular Economy and Pollution Reduction Act, which would require all single-use packaging sold in California on or after Jan. 1, 2030 to be recyclable or compostable. HCPA member companies are part of the Alliance To End Plastic Waste, a group made up of some the leading suppliers and marketers in the home came industry. These companies have pledged $1.5 billion over the next five years to solve some of the issues surrounding plastic. “Plastic is an issue that consumers care about and one that we must address,” said Caldeira. “Whatever we can do as companies and trade associations to become smarter and innovate around plastic is important.” During XPand 2019, the HCPA Annual Meeting, several important issues will be in focus. The event takes place in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Dec. 8-11, 2019. The overarching theme of the Annual Meeting is innovation and, for the first time, the HCPA will honor members with its Innovation Awards, which will be granted in five categories—ingredients, sustainability, consumer communication, technology and game-changing innovation. Annual Meeting programming will center on operational excellence, consumer education and sustainability stewardship. There will be sessions on consumer habits, ecommerce, retailer updates, supply chain disruption and diversity. The keynote speaker is Nancy Giordano, a strategic futurist and corporate strategist who has guided transformation projects with The Coca Cola Company, Brinker International, Sprint, Nestle, Acumen, Energizer, Mercedes Benz and many other Fortune 500 companies. On Dec. 11, HCPA will host a Preservation Summit that will feature presentations by Beth Ann Browne of DuPont, Tony Rook and Doug Mazeffa of Sherwin Williams, Petra Kern and Jeff Van Komen of Procter & Gamble, and other key stakeholders to further the discussion about the benefits of product preservation. According to HCPA, the goal of the Summit is to help inform legislators, retailers, decision makers and NGOs about the benefits of product preservation by developing scientific and consumer-friendly data and educational content that can be used to communicate effectively with a range of target audiences. In 2020, HCPA staff will continue to collaborate with other groups to find a solution at the national level regarding ingredient communication. “We will continue to the use the California model for a national solution. Patchwork regulations can be onerous and costly,” observed Caldeira. “We need common sense solutions. We will continue to work with the Grocery Manufacturers Association, ACI and others to find a solution. There are a lot of great things going on, but we have to stay focused, collaborate with NGOs and like-minded trade groups.” The strategy is paying off, as HCPA membership and revenue continue to grow slowly and steadily. During his three years at the helm of the association, HCPA has been rebranded, developed economic data to better tell its story on Capitol Hill and at the state level, updated its strategic plan and and expanded its board and officers. “There is growing interest among companies to have a voice as we expand,” Caldeira concluded. “If you stay stagnant, you get left behind.”

The world's biggest brands have a garbage problem. This man can help

The world's largest consumer goods companies have a big problem: The plastic waste that piles up in landfills and oceans has their corporate logos all over it. To try to fix it, they're increasing recycling efforts, sponsoring beach cleanups and switching up packaging materials, among other things. The most radical effort, though, is also the hardest to pull off: Get consumers to switch from single-use to reusable packages.   It may seem impossible, but Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Nestlé, Clorox and PepsiCo are all trying it out, thanks to Tom Szaky.   Szaky is the founder and CEO of TerraCycle, a recycling company based in Trenton, New Jersey. He's also the driving force behind Loop, an innovative service he likens to a 21st century milk man. Launched in May, the service sells brand-name goods like Tide detergent, Pantene shampoo, Gillette razors and Häagen-Dazs ice cream all in reusable packages. Participants pay a refundable deposit for each package, use the products, throw the empty containers into a Loop tote and send them back to be cleaned and refilled. Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, convinced Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Nestlé and other large consumer goods makers to launch a new shopping service using reusable packaging. (Mark Kauzlarich for CNN) Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, convinced Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Nestlé and other large consumer goods makers to launch a new shopping service using reusable packaging. (Mark Kauzlarich for CNN)   The stakes are high for all involved. For Szaky, failure could mean the loss of a significant investment and his reputation as a green business whiz. The companies, too, poured time and money into the project. For them, failure means one fewer solution to their plastic waste problem.   It's "the biggest risk we've ever done," Szaky told CNN Business's Rachel Crane. "It's in every way a massive gamble."   But Szaky is no stranger to risk.   Can one man bring back reusable packaging?    Durable packaging fell out of fashion decades ago, when cheap, disposable plastics replaced glass bottles and containersToday, reintroducing the public to a system of reusable packaging is a tall orderConsumers have become accustomed to the ease of quickly tossing things away. Reusing items, however, requires them to take an extra step to preserve the packages. That's why, when Lisa McTigue Pierce, executive editor of Packaging Digest, heard about Loop, she was skeptical.   "When I first got the information, I thought to myself, 'Wow, this is never going to take off,'" she said. But then she had another thought. "This is Tom Szaky at TerraCycle ... one of the best marketers I have ever seen," she said. "If anybody could make this work, it's going to be Tom."   That's because Szaky has a history of pulling off the improbable. A number of Loop products, all of which are in reusable containers, are arranged before a Loop tote.  (Mark Kauzlarich for CNN) A number of Loop products, all of which are in reusable containers, are arranged before a Loop tote. (Mark Kauzlarich for CNN)   Eighteen years ago, as a freshman at Princeton, he came up with the idea to sell worm poop as a natural fertilizer. Szaky turned it into a business, and soon dropped out of college to make it grow.   He convinced Princeton undergraduates to work for free, and persuaded older friends to leave their steady jobs for leadership positions at the company. In its early years, leaning on paltry funds from investors and winnings from entrepreneurship competitions, TerraCycle teetered on the edge of collapse.   But then Szaky convinced big-box retailers like Home Depot and Walmart, which were already stocking established fertilizers like Miracle-Gro, to take a chance on his product. It's easy to see why they might have turned him down. TerraCycle's plant food was not only made from waste but packaged in waste, too: used soda bottles and discarded caps.   While Szaky was chasing meetings with major retailers, other eco-friendly companies and environmentalists were swearing to never work with the likes of Walmart. But Szaky has always believed that in order for his green products to make a difference, he would have to work with — not against — corporate America. He's taking that approach with Loop today.   "My goal consumer is someone in the middle of America who may still even not be convinced on climate change, because if I can get him to participate, then we can really change the world," he said. "This is why we're working with the largest manufacturers, the largest retailers. Because that is what America likes today."   Szaky has always been able to get people's attention.   In 2003, when he was just 23 years old, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation ran a short documentary about TerraCycle. In it, Szaky talks openly about his fears and the risk he's taken, revealing that he asked investors for money to build a facility that would help fill nonexistent orders, and that he was pushing a new product he wasn't sure worked. His openness is charming, as is his obvious commitment to the cause: Szaky lugs furniture left behind by Princeton students back to a dilapidated house dedicated to putting up staffers over the summer, and refuses to buy any new packaging — or do anything the "normal" way. Three years later, at age 26, Szaky had landed on the cover of Inc. Magazine, which lauded TerraCycle as "the Coolest Little Start-Up in America."   Since then, he's written four books and maintained his status as a media darling, even launching a TerraCycle reality show called "Human Resources" on the now defunct network Pivot. It lasted for three seasons. Szaky, left, speaks with a coworker in his office. Recycled plastic bottles form a curtain that walls off his office at the TerraCycle headquarters in Trenton, New Jersey. (Mark Kauzlarich for CNN) Szaky, left, speaks with a coworker in his office. Recycled plastic bottles form a curtain that walls off his office at the TerraCycle headquarters in Trenton, New Jersey. (Mark Kauzlarich for CNN)   Szaky, now in his late 30s, is still able to punch above his weight. Two years ago, at the ritzy World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he landed a spot on stage with the CEOs of Walmart, Alibaba and Heineken to discuss the future of consumption. And he is still successful at enticing employees, some of which have taken major pay cuts, to work out of TerraCycle's modest headquarters in Trenton, New Jersey, which is decorated with trash.   Heather Crawford, vice president of marketing and eCommerce for Loop, left a managerial position at Johnson & Johnson to join TerraCycle in November. "Tom is a visionary who genuinely dreams about a waste-free world," she said. "He has these idealistic goals that he drives the whole team towards, and he asks people to do the impossible."   Over the years, TerraCycle evolved, moving on from fertilizer to transforming items that are difficult to recycle into something new. Today, TerraCycle repurposes used batteries, backpacks, coffee capsules, cooking oil and more. The company is doing well: In the first six months of 2019, TerraCycle reported net income of $1.8 million on revenue of $11.2 million. Sales were up 19% from the same period a year earlier, driven in part by new recycling partnerships with Gillette, Williams and Sonoma, Reebok and General Mills.   In September, TerraCycle also launched a car seat recycling event with Walmart. The event proved so popular, Walmart shut it down early, citing an "overwhelming response."   "We have a successful, profitable, growing business," Szaky said. The new venture could change that. With Loop, "we are sort of putting that on the line," Szaky noted.   "We've put close to 10 million of our own dollars into it. We're going to put even more," he added. "Any big idea requires that leap."   Convenience is key   In order for Loop to work, it has to be easy for consumers.   Today, consumers demand convenience, noted Pierce of Packaging Digest. "Without that — even with Tom and all of his strong partners, the consumer packaged goods companies — I don't know that it would work.   Especially when you think of the cost premium for this service," she said. "That convenience angle is everything."   Although Loop products are designed to cost about the same as their traditional counterparts, users do have to put down a deposit when they make a purchase online. The deposit can range from 25 cents to $10, depending on the item.   Consumers get it back unless they break, keep or lose the package. But some customers may be unwilling or unable to put down a deposit upfront. Individual deposits add up, and if people use the service for long periods of time, they won't get that money back for a while.   Szaky, who recognizes that the deposit could be a roadblock for some, aims to make Loop as convenient as possible. His hope is that customers will toss their empties into a used tote just as they would toss their empty containers into the trash. There's no need to wash them first: Loop handles the cleaning. And thanks to the rise of e-commerce, consumers see delivery as the most convenient option already.   Plus, in 2020, Loop products are slated to be available in major retailers like Walgreens and Kroger. That means, in addition to at-home pickup and delivery, consumers will be able to buy and drop off Loop products in person. Ultimately, Szaky wants to build a big enough network to allow customers to pop into one local store to buy a Loop product, and swing by another to drop a Loop package off.   For Szaky, ubiquity will be a marker of success.   "I would sit back and start feeling like we're doing it when I see Loop pop up unconsciously," he said. "I would feel we really got there where it's a common question of, 'Hey, would you like that in disposable or durable?'"   Szaky thinks things are moving in the right direction. Companies that committed to join the pilot with just a few products have added others, and more are in the pipeline. Loop currently includes 120 products and the service adds an average of two new products every week.   When new brands join, their competitors tend to hop on board, as well, afraid of being outdone. For example, Loop launched with reusable Häagen-Dazs ice cream containers, and soon "the biggest ice cream companies, their competitors, called us and said, 'How do we get involved? How do we go even bigger?'" Szaky recalled. This is "what competition is supposed to do, is keep making products better and pushing each other." Nestlé designed a reusable Häagen-Dazs container for Loop, sparking envy from its competitors. (Brinson + Banks for CNN) Nestlé designed a reusable Häagen-Dazs container for Loop, sparking envy from its competitors. (Brinson + Banks for CNN)   Today, Loop operates in parts of France and the East Coast in the United States, and is used by more than 10,000 people. Orders are continuously increasing each week, and repeat order rates are strong, the company says. Next year, the service will launch in London, Toronto and Tokyo, as well as parts of Germany and California.   Scaling up so broadly and so quickly is risky, however.   "One of the things that keeps me up at night is building out the actual operational scale-up plan," said Crawford.   A lot had to happen just to get Loop to the pilot phase. Companies had to develop new durable containers that were easy to clean and use. It took Nestlé 15 tries to get that envy-inducing ice cream container right. Szaky and his corporate partners have to make sure that packages are delivered, collected, cleaned and reshipped in a timely manner — a complex logistical proposition, especially considering how many different companies are involved. Loop currently uses one cleaning facility in Southeast Pennsylvania to process its US-based orders. But as it continues to expand, TerraCycle says it will need to add more facilities in other parts of the country.   For now, the project is small, and the Loop team is taking careful notes on consumer behaviors, complaints and preferences. But if Loop gets as big as Szaky wants it to, the system will have to work, impeccably, on its own.   "All of the moving pieces, logistically, operationally, new facilities in all of these regions and all of the steps and pieces that need to happen in the expansion plan is something that's going to take a tremendous amount of time and attention from our team, and also support from partners," Crawford said.   If things go wrong — orders get held up, items are out of stock, or people feel burdened by yet another shopping platform — people could give up on the idea of reusables.   Historically, consumers have often valued convenience over the environment. Starbucks, for example, has tried for years to get consumers to use reusable cups, selling durable versions of their cup for a few dollars and offering discounts to customers who bring their own mugs. But the company has consistently found that despite its efforts, just a small fraction of consumers actually bring their own cup to the store. Can Loop finally crack the code, convincing consumers to switch to reusables?   Meanwhile, the clock is ticking: companies participating in Loop won't wait forever for the concept to prove out.   Eventually, "their primary concern is going to be return to shareholders," Crawford said. "At some point in this process it needs to become profitable."   Experts are optimistic that this time, things could be different.   With Loop, Szaky's "timing is impeccable," said Pierce. Consumers are looking for solutions to the plastic waste crisis, and Loop could be a good one. Ultimately, companies may go in a different direction, like biodegradable wrapping or package-free grocery aisles instead of reusable containers. Szaky's company TerraCycle transforms hard-to-recycle items, like batteries, backpacks and coffee capsules, into something new. (Mark Kauzlarich for CNN) Szaky's company TerraCycle transforms hard-to-recycle items, like batteries, backpacks and coffee capsules, into something new. (Mark Kauzlarich for CNN)   No matter what, big corporations will have to seriously reconsider the way their goods are being sold. Unilever said on Monday that it plans to cut its use of non-recycled plastic in half by 2025. To deliver on that promise, the company will have to collect over 660,000 tons of plastic per year, and continue to innovate its product line. In addition to reusable packages, Unilever has tried out soap-like shampoo bars, bamboo toothbrushes and cardboard deodorant sticks, among other things.   "The challenge around packaging is not going to go away," said Tensie Whelan, director of NYU Stern School of Business's Center for Sustainable Business. "Growing regulatory scrutiny of it is not going to go away. Growing consumer concern about it is not going to go away. And growing cost of waste disposal and the environmental impact is not going to go away."   Szaky knows that his partners are in desperate need of a solution. When he first approached companies about Loop, he targeted ones that were featured on a Greenpeace list of worst plastics polluters, because he knew they had a potential public relations crisis on their hands. He's hoping that the scope of the problem will inspire the type of changes needed to make Loop a success.   "Loop is a gargantuan ask," Szaky acknowledged. "We're going into a Procter & Gamble and saying, 'reinvent the packaging of these world-famous products completely, build production lines to fill this reinvented package, oh, and, by the way, I have no proof if anyone's going to buy it at all.'"   And Szaky knows that people are paying attention to what he's doing. Loop has "a very big responsibility," he said. "I think a lot of people are going to think about whether there's a future in reuse by whether we succeed or not."