NEW YORK — Kroger and Walgreens are the latest companies to join in an experimental shopping system, named Loop, that aims to lessen the world’s reliance on single-use packaging.
Loop is being piloted in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States and in Paris, France, to permit shoppers 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.
Once the product is consumed, the packaging is collected, cleaned, refilled and reused, creating what a circular shopping system that cuts down on waste. The content, if recoverable, also will be either recycled or reused.
Loop was developed by Trenton, N.J.-based TerraCycle Inc., which bills itself as a global leader in recycling hard-to-recycle materials and integrating waste back into products.
After a two-year planning-and-development process, TerraCycle launched Loop in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Loop has assembled a blue-chip roster of companies, all of which are willing to assume ownership of packaging in order to address the disposability problem that is taxing the environment.
“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 chief executive officer of Loop and TerraCycle. “TerraCycle came together with dozens of major consumer product companies — from Procter & Gamble to Nestlé to Unilever, the World Economic Forum Future of Consumption Platform, logistics and transportation company United Parcel Service 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.”
Walgreens is excited about the opportunity to help consumers purchase sustainably packaged products and contribute to a healthier planet, said Lauren Brindley, group vice president of beauty and personal care at the Deerfield, Ill.-based retailer.
“Innovative collaborations with partners like Loop are critical to solving the complex issue of reducing single-use plastics,” Brindley said. “Our customers look to us to innovate so that together we can reduce waste and increase re-use.”
Jessica Adelman, Kroger group vice of corporate affairs, said Loop’s mission to create a convenient circular packaging solution is closely aligned with the company’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste campaign to end hunger in the communities in which it operates and eliminate waste across the company by 2025.
“We believe in giving our customers sustainable packaging choices they can feel good about,” Adelman said. “As the exclusive grocery retail partner for Loop in the United States, Kroger is taking another big step toward a world with zero waste.”
TerraCycle’s Szaky said that beyond retailers and consumer packaged goods brands, his company is working with large infrastructure partners to allow Loop to achieve its lofty aims.
For instance, engineers at Atlanta-based UPS designed and tested the reusable packaging and totes, and helped define the role played by transportation in delivering circularity into the supply chain.
And Suez Groupe of France has taken a small stake in Loop and is helping with wastewater management and the cleaning infrastructure.