P2PSummit Keynote: TerraCycle to Show How It Helps CPGs Address Waste Crisis

Brands and retailers are beginning to deal with their packaging waste, but recycling is not enough.

“We can’t recycle our way out of the garbage crisis,” says TerraCycle founder and CEO Tom Szaky, who will give a Path to Purchase Summit keynote presentation on May 17. “Recycling is critically important to help a symptom, but it is not going to solve waste at the root cause.”

To create that shift – one from disposability to durability – Szaky and his company have teamed with some of the world’s largest CPGs to launch a new global shopping platform, Loop.

“It’s the modern-day milkman,” he says, of the program that shifts the ownership of packaging from the customer to the consumer goods companies. Loop is launching mid-May 2019 with pilots in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Paris. London comes later in the year, and pilots in California, Tokyo and Toronto are expected in 2020.

Dubbed as a “circular delivery service,” shoppers subscribe to Loop and buy items online. Products, packaged in durable, reusable or fully recyclable packaging, arrive from UPS in a Loop tote bag that consumers then use to collect empty packages. UPS picks up the tote. Empty packages are sanitized and then reused.

“Businesses big and small,” says Szaky, “are looking for solutions to respond to consumers’ desire to create less waste and better the environment.”

The idea for Loop came about at the 2017 World Economic Forum. TerraCycle led the ideation and implementation, but Szaky is quick to note that the program would not be possible without many partners, including Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, PepsiCo, Mars, Nestle; retailers Carrefour and Tesco; operational partners Suez and UPS. Loop was officially announced at the January 2019 World Economic Forum.

“Key reasons for joining are the ability to innovate for consumers (enabled by shifting ownership from the consumer to the manufacturer of the package) and the benefit of solving for the waste that disposability creates,” Szaky says.

During the pilot, about 300 products — such as Dove deodorant, Crest mouthwash, Haagen-Dazs ice cream, Pantene shampoo and Tide detergent — will be available. Eventually the program could expand to physical and e-commerce stores.

Szaky encourages anyone interested in what the future of consumption looks like to attend the P2PSummit session. “Consumers seek the most convenient and affordable options,” he says, “and one of our big challenges is to ask a consumer to change the way they access the products they love.”

Convenience and affordability led the industry to single-use items and a culture of disposability. Recognizing that, Loop aims to solve the environmental issue of waste while at the same time still making it easy for shoppers to purchase and consume.

“We realized that recycling and using recycled content is about trying to do the best you can with waste,” says Szaky, “but it’s not solving the foundational reason we have waste. We did a lot of reflection on that and realized that the foundational cause of garbage is disposability and single use.”

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