What If We Could Reuse The Packaging on Consumer Products?

“The shampoo bottle, the deodorant stick, razors and even your toothbrush — they all get thrown away when they’re empty or worn out. But if they were reusable — or refillable — just imagine how much waste could be avoided.”

That’s how Bloomberg describes the new “Loop” initiative being tested for one year by the New Jersey recycling company TerraCycle:

This week, Loop began its U.S. trial, allowing consumers to use steel, glass and durable plastic reusable packaging for everyday items. Kroger Co. and Walgreens, along with such consumer brands as Procter & Gamble, Nestle, The Clorox Co. and Unilever, are taking part… For the trial, Loop is available online to customers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. You can order products made by the participating companies that will be delivered to you in special reusable packaging.

Under the program, manufacturers have redesigned product containers for some of their most well-known products. Loop will collect a refundable deposit, sometimes $5 to $10, that customers will get back when they return their containers. UPS will pick up your empties for no additional charge… Procter & Gamble has unveiled its Crest mouthwash in a sleek glass bottle — with a rubber base to prevent breakage. It also has non-electric Oral B toothbrushes that have a head that pops off so users can keep the base and replace the brush. But it was the stainless steel ice cream container for Nestle’s Haagen-Dazs (which isn’t too cold to the touch but keeps ice cream cool longer) that was the crowd favorite at a Manhattan rollout this week…. During Loop’s trial, returned containers will go to New Jersey and then Pennsylvania for washing, then back to the companies’ factories for refilling…

[W]hile reusable packaging may require more energy and materials when first made, Tom Szaky, chief executive of TerraCycle, said the carbon cost becomes equal to that of disposable packaging after just two or three uses. His goal, he said, is to produce items that can be reused 100 times… Szaky explained that Loop is all about bringing back the milkman model, where glass bottles of milk were left on your porch, and you put the empties there to be picked up…
“We want you to see Loop packaging 50 years from now still going around,” Szaky said.

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