From food manufacturers to e-commerce giants, the pressure is on to have at least some form of sustainable business practice as more consumers align with environmentally-friendly businesses.

Loop is one way some larger brands are starting to dabble in becoming greener without resorting to completely uproot their existing supply chains. Created by recycling company TerraCycle, the online platform allows customers to shop from their favorite brands in a cleaner, more environment-friendly manner using reusable containers.

After filling out your online shopping bag via the Loop online shopping platform, the products are stored in several sturdy, reusable containers before sending the bulk of them to you. Users simply just have to pay a small deposit for the durable, multi-use package designs—not unlike glass milk bottles from the days of milkmen.

Rather than using discardable containers that usually end up in the trash, food items like your favorite Häagen-Dazs ice cream are stored in containers designed specifically for the product (in this case, the ice cream is stored in a stainless steel container). Not only is it greener, but the reusable container keeps the ice cream frozen for much longer—proving that functional upgrade considerations also went into the design of the new containers.

Says the company:

“Most products today are “linear” – thrown away after they’re used (typically once). This one-way model sends valuable resources to the trash. In a “circular” system, that line is bent into a circle that keeps resources in use and cycling through the system for as long as possible. The goal of the circular economy is to make those circles as tight as possible by reducing the number of steps (and the resulting energy, transportation and resources needed) to get our products from useless to useful again.”

This call towards reusable packaging is inspiring brands to think about how they design their products. Toothpaste, for instance, doesn’t fit well in a reusable container; so Unilever has created several chewable toothpaste tablets which are stored in a tin (think of it as chewing gum which cleans your mouth).

Participating Brands and Updated Package Design Details (via Packaging World):

  • Pantene is introducing a unique bottle made with lightweight, durable aluminum for its shampoo and conditioner.
  • Tide is participating in Loop with its Tide purclean plant-based laundry detergent in a new durable bottle made from stainless steel with a simple twist-cap and easy-pour spout.
  • Cascade, continually looking for ways to make the dish cleaning experience better and environmentally friendly, has developed a new ultra-durable packaging for Cascade ActionPacs, which enable consumers to skip the prewash.
  • Crest is introducing new Crest Platinum mouthwash, a unique formula that delivers fresh breath and stain prevention in a sustainable, refillable glass bottle.
  • Ariel and Febreze are participating with durable, refillable packaging that is also available in stores, testing a new direct-to-consumer refill-and-reuse model.

Once you’re done with the containers, all you have to do is store the containers back in the provided tote bag (no cleaning needed) and call Loop to pick it up. You’ll get your deposit back and have free space to store new shopping items.

Meanwhile, the empty containers taken by Loop are cleaned and sanitized before being returned to the manufacturers for a refill. According to TerraCycle co-founder and CEO Tom Szaky, Loop encourages companies to use their containers at least a hundred times before considering to make new ones.

Could this be the future of food packaging? Only time will tell.

Author

Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.