Posts with term Walgreens X

My first Loop: Early days in the circular shopping platform

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

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

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

How do the prices compare?

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

Would I order again?

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

Loop: The New Recycling Initiative

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

How It Works

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

How Retailers Can Participate

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

The Zero Waste Box Program

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

Reusable Packaging Startup Loop Makes Headway On Store Shelves

Tom Szaky First announced in January, Loop recently went live. Loop is the brainchild of Tom Szaky, founder of Trenton, NJ-based recycling pioneer TerraCycle. The latter, which Szaky formed 15 years ago, works with consumer product companies, retailers and others to recycle all manner of stuff, from dirty diapers to cigarette butts. And it teams up with companies to integrate ocean plastic and other hard to recycle waste streams into their products and packaging. Loop—its parent company is TerraCycle—is different. It’s all about creating a circular system, in which containers and other receptacles are reused, rather than disposed of and then recycled. “Recycling is incredibly important,” says Szaky. “But it’s only a short-term solution. It doesn’t solve the root cause.” With that in mind, Loop partners  with retailers, as well as manufacturers, which create new packaging for products—orange juice, laundry detergent, you name it—in durable, reusable metal or glass packaging. Consumers return the containers to a store or arrange for them to be picked up at home after a certain number of uses, depending on the product. (Brands can’t participate unless their packaging can be reused at least 10 times). The 41 brands listed on the Loop web site include everything from Tropicana and Tide to Colgate, Crest and Clorox. Szaky came up with the idea in 2017 and announced the company at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January. It went live in May. Such stores as Kroger and Walgreens on the East Coast and Carrefour in Paris are stocking their shelves with Loop items. Brands create the packaging and, according to Szaky, it takes about a year for them to go from design to manufacturing. Still, according to Szaky, it’s a project brands are perfectly suited to take on. “They’re set up to do this kind of thing,” he says. “When they launch new products, they go through a similar process.” Consumers, who put down a small fully refundable deposit on each purchase, return the items in a special Loop bag when it’s time. (Prices are comparable to non-Loop versions). Loop then sorts and cleans them and returns them to the right brands to refill and start the process again. Szaky says the company is now shipping “under 100 products”, but expects that number to be 300-400 by the end of the year. He’s adding four to five products a week. For now, he expects that stores will mostly approach Loop products as they might organic produce, positioning products in separate sections on shelves. More Loop programs are planned for stores in the UK, Toronto, Tokyo and California.  

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

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

In the loop

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

Change the World 2019: Where Business Creates Virtuous Circles

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

TerraCycle’s Szaky Creates Opportunities from Challenges

The 2019 Waste360 40 Under 40 award recipient discusses how he got his start in the industry as well as TerraCycle’s mission to eliminate waste. When Tom Szaky was a freshman at Princeton University, he and several friends during a fall break ended up feeding kitchen scraps to red worms and using the resulting fertilizer to feed some of their indoor plants. The results amazed Szaky and the idea for TerraCycle was born: to help eliminate the idea of waste by making quality fertilizer from food waste. Szaky emptied his savings accounts, borrowed money from friends and family and maxed out his credit cards to create a massive worm feces conversion unit. He eventually decided to leave Princeton and pursue TerraCycle fulltime. The company has since evolved, and earlier this year, TerraCycle created Loop, a first-of-its-kind circular shopping system, in partnership with major retailers and brands. It aims to change the world’s reliance on single-use packaging, offer a convenient and enhanced circular solution to consumers and secure meaningful environmental benefits. The system, which also launched in Paris and will continue to roll out to more markets throughout 2019 and 2020, allows customers to responsibly consume a range of products in customized, brand-specific, durable packaging that is collected, cleaned, refilled and reused. The content, if recoverable, is either recycled or reused. Szaky has been named a 2019 Waste360 40 Under 40 award recipient. He was nominated by Kimberly Frost, who never met him but has been interested in and following Terracycle’s growth through the years. “He's a self-made guy,” says Frost. “He invested in his passion and grew from there. He stayed local. He invested in his community. He took his solutions global. He is someone who harnesses challenges and morphs them into opportunities. His solutions benefit the environment and show the human capacity for creative problem-solving.” We recently sat down with the 40 Under 40 awardrecipient to discuss how he got his start in the industry as well as TerraCycle’s idea to eliminate waste. Waste360: How did you get your start in the industry? Tom Szaky: I started my company in the middle of my freshman year of college, and I left college in my sophomore year to pursue it, so I sort of fell into the industry. I think waste is an amazingly big topic and relative to its immense scale; it’s incredibly un-innovative. So, that to me was a way to create a business that focused on purpose, as in making the environment better and, in a secondary way, making society better while making a profit. And that was very attractive to me. Waste360: Please tell us about your brief time at Princeton. Tom Szaky: When I was in college, I was very interested in behavioral economics—that was my major. I think the big turning point for me in economics overall and sort of thinking about business in different ways was actually the first class of economics. The professor got up on stage and the first thing she said was, ‘Let’s define the purpose of business.’ And the answer she was looking for was profit to shareholders. I sort of had a problem with that in the sense that I thought there are so many people who interact with a business—employees, vendors, customers, etc.—and so few do it for profit to shareholders and don’t think it’s the reason for its existence. So, I sort of started exploring that conflict a little bit and where I landed was at, ‘No, the purpose of business is for society and the planet and it should do so at a profit, but profit isn’t the reason of being.’ So, that’s where I picked up this whole exploration. Waste360: What was your initial inspiration for starting TerraCycle and eventually the Loop shopping system? Tom Szaky: TerraCycle, for me, was inspired around garbage and around how people don’t like garbage and pay to discard it. That's a big issue, and although everything one day becomes waste, the innovation is relatively small. That, to me, was a really interesting opportunity, and that’s how TerraCycle began—starting with the organic fertilizer and then emerging to recycling programs and other exciting things. Fast forward to a few years ago in 2016 or 2017, we were thinking, ‘Is recycling really the foundational solution to waste?’ And we realized that it is a solution for the symptom of waste but not the root cause of waste. That began a big exploration that landed us launching Loop, which was announced in January and went live in May. Waste360: How are things going with Loop since the pilot program has expanded into new areas? What kind of feedback have you received from that project so far? Tom Szaky: Loop went live on May 14 in France and on May 21 with Kroger and Walgreens in the U.S. The launch is coming up in London in January 2020 with Tesco, in April 2020 in Germany and Canada and then in late 2020 with Australia and Japan. So, there’s a lot coming up. loop-tote.jpg In the platforms that are live today in the U.S. and France, we are finding that people really like Loop for two reasons: for the reuse and the design that it brings to the products in their home. And that was really interesting to see how much people gravitated to Loop because of the design. We are also seeing people are less sensitive on the price end of the project. People want to make sure the product itself is a reasonable price, but they’re open to paying a deposit equal to the value of the package, which is really quite exciting. Waste360: How is TerraCycle eliminating the idea of waste? Tom Szaky: We are doing that in four ways. One is that we help make things that are not recyclable recyclable. That is one of our major business units—we recycle everything from dirty diapers to cigarette butts and flexible food packaging to toothbrushes. Our second division focuses on how do we integrate waste back into consumer products? For example, ocean plastic into shampoo bottles and many other such examples. But again, always with major brands. The third is Loop—moving from disposable to durable consumption. We also have an emerging division around diagnostics, which looks at certain waste streams that carry diagnosable samples, like the saliva on your toothbrush or the fecal matter in your child’s diaper, and are creating a solution to that. For example, many toothbrushes have saliva samples, razor blades have skin samples, tampons have menstrual blood and kitty litter can contain cat urine and fecal matter from the pet. In all those cases, we can create an opportunity—which we are developing now—where you buy a diagnostic kit and put in one of the samples from those waste streams and then when it comes back to us, we analyze it to tell you about the health of yourself, your child, your pet or whatever it may be. Waste360: Terracycle has partnered with organizations like Keep America BeautifulSubaru and Tweed, among others. What other notable partnerships are in the works for the company? Tom Szaky: Oh wow, yeah. We work with so many amazing brands and retailers across 21 markets. It’s hard for me to tell you about what is coming up because those will be formally announced as they come. SubaruTerraCycle-Partnership.jpg Waste360: You’ve authored four books, starred in a TerraCycle reality show and have received more than 200 social, environmental and business awards. What’s next for you personally and for TerraCycle? Tom Szaky: Personally, I am going to write another book. It will be the fifth book, most likely on marketing and communications. I am really enjoying my family now. I have two young boys—a 4 year old and 2 year old—so I am spending a lot of time with them. For the company, we are becoming more mature. We acquired a light bulb recycling company last year, and we are looking to start another acquisition this year and finish it next year. We are also looking toward expanding into more countries. I think that is very likely with our foundation that we’ve opened in Thailand and our for-profit we will be opening in Southeast Asian region countries, like Indonesia and Malaysia. We are looking at developing other business units, like how do we bring this idea of really high-end waste management and recycling to residential homes and small businesses? We are really trying to think through how to increase the geography but really increase the range of all the capabilities that we can bring. Waste360: What advice would you give people who are either reluctant to join the waste and recycling industry or those just getting their feet wet in the industry? Tom Szaky: I would say it’s an incredible opportunity right now and people are really focused on [waste and recycling]. We are in the middle of a garbage crisis. But because people are repulsed by waste, there is little innovation, so there is a great opportunity for an entrepreneur to get involved because it is very easy to innovate when there is very little innovation going on. Waste360: What keeps you motivated in your daily work? Tom Szaky: It’s the purpose. It’s the ability to know that what I am doing is not just to make money, it’s going to leave the world better than I found it. And that purpose really drives me. It’s nice and it’s a cherry on the cake that it is also financially rewarding, but what gets me out of bed is working to make the world better than I found it, and it’s a constant driver no matter what.  

Living a low-waste life offers a business opportunity

Sarah Levy (left) worked with customer Helena Hughes at Levy’s store, Cleenland, in Cambridge. She weighed Hughes’s re-usable containers before filling them.(SUZANNE KREITER/GLOBE STAFF) CAMBRIDGE — On a recent afternoon, Sarah Levy picked up an empty pickle jar from a shelf in her storefront, sniffed it, and then suggested a customer fill it with soap. There’s a take-a-jar, leave-a-jar policy at Cleenland, Levy’s new “low-waste, no-shame” store that lets shoppers stock up on cleaning supplies using their own bottles. And as an early adopter of an emerging shift in American consumption habits, she has become adept at getting the gherkin smell out of glass. “This is not a trend; it’s a resurgence of interest in re-using instead of recycling,” said Levy, who opened Cleenland in Central Square in June. After weighing her customers’ jars, she commiserates with them over global environmental challenges. “We’re not going to recycle our way out of this problem,” said Ksenija Broks, a teacher from Roslindale. As consumers such as Broks seek to limit the waste they create, more local entrepreneurs like Levy are stepping in to serve them and have begun opening storefronts — physical, mobile, and online. The Boston General Store is selling a growing assortment of zero-waste accessories. Make & Mend sells secondhand arts and crafts supplies in Somerville’s Bow Market. The Green Road Refill bus tours Cape Cod selling plastic-free alternatives to home and body products. Last month, Sabrina Auclair launched Unpacked Living, an online storefront that she says is the only plastic-free store in Massachusetts. Recent changes in the Chinese recycling industry have upended the way America deals with waste. China had processed US recyclables for decades but is now rejecting “foreign garbage” as part of a broader national antipollution campaign. The decision has reverberated in municipalities across the United States, forcing Massachusetts authorities to place new restrictions on materials they accept curbside in recycling bins. In so doing, it’s also forced more consumers to reconsider the amount of waste they create. Julia Wilson, who tracks corporate sustainability efforts for the Nielsen research firm, says 73 percent of consumers are looking to shift their consumption habits to reduce their environmental impact, and she predicts that they’ll spend $150 billion on sustainable goods by 2021. Young consumers in particular lack the brand loyalty of their parents, she said, meaning they’re willing to make purchase decisions that align with their values. And that presents an opportunity. “It opens the door for new entrepreneurs and upstart products and brands who are thinking about things differently,” she said. Some entrepreneurs are using a “circular economy” model in which goods are delivered in durable packages and sent back when they’re empty. Boston-based ThreeMain launched earlier this year selling cleaning products in reusable aluminum bottles. The most well-funded endeavor, Loop, which expanded to Massachusetts last month, sells 100 major brands including Haagen Dazs, Crest mouthwash, and Clorox wipes in reusable containers. Re-usable glass jars are available at Cleenland, in Cambridge’s Central Square.(SUZANNE KREITER/GLOBE STAFF) Tom Szaky has spent over 17 years processing hard-to-recycle materials as the founder of TerraCycle, and said the challenges in the recycling economy led him to launch Loop. “Waste has really moved from a problem to a crisis in the last 24 months,” he said. “And the real root cause of waste is the idea of disposability, which was really only invented in the 1950s.” Loop’s goal, he said, is to make buying items in durable, reusable containers as “incredibly convenient and incredibly affordable” as the ones we’re currently buying — and tossing — when we’re through. “Our goal is that it feels to you as disposable as possible,” he said. “I want you to feel like it’s a throwaway lifestyle.” The service has been operating in Paris and New York for the past few months and will have as many as 500 products by the year’s end, Szaky said. Partnerships with Kroger and Walgreen stores will launch next year. To the enlightened observer, these entrepreneurs aren’t so much trying to reinvent commerce as they are trying to take it back to a more traditional form of selling goods. Levy recognizes the difficulty involved with changing consumer habits, but she said the model works because she’s selling necessities. “You don’t go a week without hand soap,” she notes. And she’s hopeful, as the popularity of zero-waste shops has exploded abroad in the United Kingdom, Canada, and particularly in Australia, where the nonprofit Plastic Free Foundation launched the #PlasticFreeJuly campaign, which has become a global phenomenon. Auclair’s path to entrepreneurship started in the shampoo aisle of a Market Basket. The Colombia native has lived in Massachusetts for over a decade and grew to hate the American habit of buying everything in plastic. Because her apartment building in Beverly doesn’t recycle, she felt frustrated by the amount of waste she created. “If I buy a shampoo plastic bottle, I’m buying trash,” she said, recalling her Market Basket revelation. “I vowed that day that I was going to quit plastic.” Auclair found a community of like-minded consumers online and began to document her attempt to live plastic-free on Instagram. She created the Facebook group Zero Waste Massachusetts before launching Unpacked Living. The site sells such items as bamboo toothbrushes, metal lunch tins, and lip balms in cardboard containers. It’s a small endeavor — she has invested about $2,000 on the products, and her warehouse is her guest bedroom — but she said it’s a start. Area food suppliers say concerns about plastic waste are driving a steady increase in bulk buying, particularly following the closure of the Harvest Co-op last year. Matt Gray has seen sales of his bulk section and bottled milk soar in his Somerville storefront, Neighborhood Produce. Alys Myers is working to build Supply, a bulk delivery business out of Dorchester, and Roche Bros. recently added a bulk section in its Downtown Crossing store. And since taking over the store’s operations last summer, Greg Saidnawey, the 26-year-old fourth-generation owner of Pemberton Farms market in North Cambridge, said he has doubled the amount of items the store sells (it now offers 120 bulk bins, 65 spices, three oils, four soap products, six pet foods, and 12 beverages). “The demand was there,” he said, “and we took the opportunity and ran with it.” Gergana Nenkov, a marketing professor at Boston College who studies how consumers engage with messages around sustainability, said these entrepreneurs are responding to the shifting attitudes of younger consumers. “There’s a big concern about ‘What are you doing for the world?’ ” she said, a message that “startups are leading the way on, and big companies will follow.” Until then, for consumers like Julia Burrell, living a low-waste life can still feel a lot like a full-time job. In January, the self-described “environmental atrocity” made a decision to rid her life of plastic, documenting her effort on Instagram as The Crazy No Plastic Lady. It’s still hard to buy meat and cheese in plastic-free packaging, she said, and she’s been slapped on the wrist while attempting to use her own containers in the bulk aisle of such stores as Whole Foods. “Living this lifestyle requires a lot of research,” she said, sitting in front of a collection of empty glass jars that line the mantel of her East Boston home. “And a lot of seeing what you can get away with.” But Burrell is hoping her Instagram account might lead to a new career coaching organizations on taking steps toward reducing their waste. “If I focus my energies into this, I think I could parlay this into a successful business,” she said. “It would be the most meaningful job I have ever had.”

Solutions for single-use plastic pollution must consider all stakeholders

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

Two Major Household Products Now Available in Reusable Packaging

Detergent brands Cascade and Tide have joined circular shopping system Loop, with customers in the U.S. now able to buy the products in reusable packaging. Recycling specialists TerraCycle run the program, which enables customers to buy everyday products in durable packaging that can be cleaned, collected, refilled and reused.