It’s the motto we must follow if we’re to save the planet – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We all know how to recycle. We have our dedicated bins. We are also learning how to reduce the amount of waste we create from having our own water bottles, to always carrying a tote bag and buying loose veg. But what about how to reuse, the third in the trio of sustainable behaviour?
To champion this, several of the world’s largest consumer goods companies unveiled a new programme at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Called Loop, the name is in reference to a theoretical zero-waste circular economy and is being led by US-based company TerraCycle.
The way it works is that consumers buy their favourite products in reusable containers online which are then returned to Loop when finished. The containers are collected by UPS at no extra cost and each customer then receives their refundable deposit. After three or four uses, the containers recover their environmental cost of production.
Around 25 brands have signed up from Pepsi Co to Unilever and P&G with each brand developing packaging with their own product designers. You will get your Hellman’s mayo and Tropicana orange juice in glass jars and your Haagen Dazs ice cream in a double layered aluminium tin.
It’s a solution that is both hassle free for the customer and good for the environment. As TerraCycle’s founder Tom Szaky has said, “We can’t recycle or clean our way out of this. We have to stop the waste from entering the system to begin with.” The programme has appeal for every generation too, invoking nostalgia for those who remember glass milk bottles and positive support from the younger generations desperate to use less plastic.
When Loop launches in mid-May of this year, products will be available online through a pilot scheme in Paris and New York, with a partnership with London’s Tesco slated for later this year and Tokyo in 2020.