Loop platform builds momentum for reusable packaging

Circular model draws participation from leading retailers and CPG brands worldwide.
Image courtesy of Loop Global

Major companies’ participation in sustainable packaging initiatives underscores the importance of waste reduction to the CPG sector. And there’s perhaps no better example than the Loop reusable packaging program, which has drawn the support of leading retailers and consumer brands worldwide.

Products leveraging the Loop circular reuse platform, developed by Trenton, New Jersey-based waste management firm TerraCycle, come in refillable containers made of glass or metal (as well as other materials) and are placed in branded displays at the participating stores. After shoppers use the products, they return the empty packaging to Loop Return Point collection bins at the store. Loop then retrieves the containers for cleaning, refilling and reuse in future purchases.

“We are scaling up our initiative globally,” said Clemence Schmid, general manager for Loop Global at TerraCycle. “We’re not only U.S.-based, but we are globally based, because this is the way supply chains work today. All of the brands work on a global supply chain. So for us, having a system that is proven across all of the markets where our biggest partners operate is extremely important.”

In the United States, retailers Walmart, The Kroger Co. (Fred Meyer) and Ahold Delhaize USA (Giant Food) are now offering Loop-packaged products in selected stores, while Walgreens offers Loop items online in several markets.

Kroger and Walgreens announced in May 2019 that they would be the first U.S. retailers to employ the Loop system. Internationally, current Loop partners on the retail side include Tesco and Burger King in the United Kingdom (as well as office supplies distributor Lyreco), Carrefour and Metro AG in France, and Aeon in Japan. Canadian food and drug retailer Loblaw and U.S. beauty chain Ulta Beauty also have participated the Loop program, which includes a diaper service powered by reusable diaper company Charlie Banana as well.

CPG brands that are currently offering Loop-packaged products or have participated in the program include Cascade, Clorox, Coca-Cola, Evian, Fanta, Finish, Gillette, Herbal Essences, Kikkoman,Nivea, Nutella, Pantene, S. Pellegrino, Sprite, Ariel, Bonduelle, Lotte, Persil, Nestle Ricore, Glad, Haagen-Dazs, Kraft Heinz, Mars Wrigley, Oral-B, Pampers, Perrier, Purina, Tide and Tropicana, among others. 

In late July, Schmid testified about the viability of reusable packaging to help reduce plastic waste at a U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee hearing. “Now is the moment to embrace reuse models,” she said in her remarks. “The private sector has conducted all the necessary pilots to prove the concepts, and there is global momentum at a legislative level to propel reuse forward.”

Loop programs implemented at retailers around the world have been “the stepping stones to how we develop a reuse model at scale,” according to Schmid. The Loop solution also has been “getting a lot of traction,” she said, from discussions at the business level and the ongoing plastic treaty negotiations, which aim to create international legally binding document on plastic pollution.

“We are constantly adding new retailers across geographies,” Schmid said, noting that she cannot disclose company names until they’re officially announced. “We are in conversation with virtually all of the biggest retailers across each of the markets where we operate.” Loop’s website shows that efforts are pending to introduce its platform in Australia and launch retail pilots in Canada.

In terms of packaging, the Loop platform is “material agnostic” but requires product packages to be made of materials that can cycle a certain number of times, such as glass, stainless steel and durable plastic.

“I strongly believe we are only scratching the surface in this area, which makes it exciting for packaging manufacturers for R&D and for suppliers and designers to identify new durable materials that we can leverage over and over,” Schmid said.

The Loop system already has demonstrated that just about any CPG item can be offered in reusable packaging, as evidenced by the array of brand partners.

“The Loop philosophy is any product that is packaged in single-use packaging today can be packaged in reusable packaging today,” Schmid said. “I usually get the question, ‘What type of product are you doing?’ And I say, ‘We are doing baby food to tomato oil and everything in between.’ Personal care, home care—we’ve proven via our system that those products can have a reusable package. We've also had a lot of R&D work in the areas of pharmaceuticals and even textiles. So, it’s really about how we move from single use into reuse.



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