A roster of some of the biggest consumer goods companies will soon join a re-usable, re-fillable packaging based product service. Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Nestlé, and several other companies are working with Terracycle in a classic milk delivery style service. It’s called Loop and is set to launch this spring in the NY/NJ/PA area in the United States, as well as the area surrounding Paris in France.

The concept is simple. People order products. Products are shipped to them in re-usable containers. People return the empty containers. Containers are cleaned and re-filled and shipped to consumers again. Subscribers pay a refundable deposit for the container.  Shipping is free if an order is over a certain size. Loop also has plans to expand to in-store retailers where customers can bring in empties to re-fill.

Regarding its impact and whether the service will actually be a net positive for the environment, it looks like Loop and the service’s participating companies have done their homework. They recognize that carbon emissions from transportation, production, and other factors would outweigh the environmental benefits if packages were only reused a few times or if products were made very far from where they were delivered. According to Procter & Gamble Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer Virginie Helias, “It takes five Loop cycles of fill and reuse to be better from an environmental standpoint.”

Loop looks to be a great idea and with buy-in from so many large corporations and popular brands, it is positioned well to become a successful service that prevents a significant amount of waste. And it comes at a time when people are increasingly tired of throwaway culture. They are tired of excessive packaging and single-use food containers.

There is a patch of trash larger than Texas in the ocean, and once-pristine island beaches are being swamped with trash. Recycling is clearly not enough. Production of waste is a larger issue that needs to be addressed as well. Plastic straws and plastic bags are being banned by companies, cities, and countries. Full grocery stores are eliminating packing, and companies are creating biodegradable plates and take-out containers made from recycled materials. And now big brands are coming together to work with a service that builds re-using containers into its business model.

Conscious consumption is showing itself to be a growing, popular movement, and programs like this are a must for tackling the pollution epidemic.

 

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