Big brands revisit the milkman model to cut plastic pollution

Loop will deliver grocery products in glass and metal containers and collect the empties

Government bans on products such as single-use plastic water bottles, shopping bags and polystyrene cups have sent retailers and consumer goods companies searching for solutions. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Government bans on products such as single-use plastic water bottles, shopping bags and polystyrene cups have sent retailers and consumer goods companies searching for solutions. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

 

Major packaged goods sellers and retailers, under pressure to cut the flow of single-use plastic bottles and containers clogging the world’s waterways, have teamed with recycling and shipping firms on an e-commerce service that puts a twist on the old-fashioned milkman.

Called Loop and announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, it delivers products such as orange juice, shampoo and laundry detergent in reusable glass and metal bottles to shoppers’ doorsteps and retrieves the empties for cleaning and reuse.

Users order products online and put down fully refundable deposits for the reusable packaging

Launch partners include recycling firm and Loop parent TerraCycle; shipper UPS; consumer packaged goods sellers Procter & Gamble, Unilever, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola European Partners; and retailers Carrefour and Tesco. Loop’s unveiling comes just months after China’s decision to stop collecting and processing plastic waste escalated alarm over environmental damage to the world’s oceans.

Major cities

The service launches in May with projects in Paris and the New York area. Other major cities such as Toronto and Tokyo will follow next year.

Users order products online and put down fully refundable deposits for the reusable packaging. They can wipe out shipping fees of €18 or so by including about seven items in their order, said Tom Szaky, chief executive of TerraCycle.

Plastic production has surged over the last 50 years, leading to widespread use of inexpensive, disposable bottles, cups, takeaway containers and other products.

Government bans on products such as single-use plastic water bottles, shopping bags and polystyrene cups have sent retailers and consumer goods companies searching for solutions.

Loop’s Paris retail partner Carrefour will test and tweak the programme ahead of the official launch.

“It will surprise me if it works on day one,” said Carrefour secretary general Laurent Vallée, who added that Loop challenges industry and consumers “to act, to think and to buy differently.”

Paris project

PepsiCo will start a 5,000-household Paris project with Tropicana orange juice in glass bottles and Quaker Chocolate Cruesli cereal in steel containers, said Simon Lowden, president and chief marketing officer of global snacks and insights.

Loop’s refundable deposits range from 25 cent for a Coca-Cola 200ml bottle to €47 for Pampers recycling

Lowden and other executives vowed to use their companies’ scale and marketing muscle to support the project, but declined to quantify financial investments.

P&G’s Loop contributions include Tide purclean laundry detergent in stainless steel bottles and Pampers nappy recycling.

Loop’s refundable deposits in Europe range from 25 cent for a Coca-Cola 200ml bottle to €47 for Pampers recycling, TerraCycle said.

– Reuters

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