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Is Loop The Solution To Single-Use Plastic Waste?

by Bill McCool on 01/24/2019 | 2 Minute Read

Recycling, as it turns out, doesn’t work so great.

91% of plastic never sees the inside of a recycling bin, and 25% of what gets recycled is so contaminated that it’s diverted to a landfill. Add to that a complicated infrastructure that prizes some materials more than others, and you can get a glance at just how broken the system is.

Launched today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Loop is the latest blow against rampant single-use plastic waste and could prove to be a viable solution if consumers buy into a program that relies on reusable packaging.

Loop is the latest gambit from New Jersey-based recycling company TerraCycle, a leader in finding solutions for hard-to-recycle waste, and they’ve teamed up with some of the world’s biggest brands and companies including Unilever, Coca-Cola, Mars, Proctor & Gamble and Nestlé. The zero-waste circular shopping platform will offer over 300 popular products from the mega-corporations in reusable packaging.

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So how does the program work?

Similar to Amazon, shoppers fill their online cart with goods and have them shipped to their home in a highly durable tote bag. Consumers must pay a small deposit for the containers that the products are shipped in, and when finished, they are sent back in the Loop tote to be used again-- you don't even need to clean the containers out when they are shipped back.

If you decide to reorder the same product, great, if not, your initial packaging deposit is returned.

“Loop will not just eliminate the idea of packaging waste, but greatly improve the product experience and the convenience in how we shop,” said TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky in a press release. “Through Loop, consumers can now responsibly consume products in specially designed durable, reusable or fully recyclable packaging made from materials like alloys, glass and engineered plastics. When a consumer returns the packaging, it is refilled, or the content is reused or recycled through groundbreaking technology.”

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While the package itself is owned by the brand, TerraCycle will clean all of the containers themselves using their specialized machinery— you didn’t want to wash those out anyway, right?

With Loop, for the most part, you’re taking consumers out of the equation and putting the onus back on manufacturers and brands, turning the container itself into a valuable commodity, one reused again and again. As they say on their site, “Loop is the milkman reimagined - honoring our past from a modern perspective.” In essence, Loop wisely wants us to go backward in order to move forward, using materials like aluminum and glass that can be easily refilled or recycled.

Loop’s trial run will begin this May for consumers in New York City and Paris and will start up in London later in the year. They also plan to launch in brick-and-mortar retailers like Tesco and Carrefour in the EU.

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