We use plastic packaging for just about everything: from yogurt to toothpaste, to ice cream tubs and shampoo. It’s nearly impossible to live a zero-waste lifestyle and still purchase mainstream products available in the average grocery store.
No matter how much we try to reuse and recycle, some things just aren’t recyclable. And the things that we can place in curbside recycling bings sometimes never get recycled, thanks to the shortage of buyers for recyclable material.
A garbage crisis
Meanwhile, the trash that’s already on our planet is building up and filling our oceans. It’s contaminating the waterways and clogging the rivers. Plastic containers that can take up to a 1,000 years to decompose are highly threatening to wildlife. At least 100 million marine mammals are killed each year by plastic rubbish, and if things continue as usual, plastic trash in the ocean will outweigh fish by 2050.
Nevertheless, our undeniable addition to plastic continues. Bags, straws, containers, lids, nets – most are used only once and then tossed in the trash can.
That’s why a new zero-waste platform called Loop is attempting to eliminate plastic packaging for good. Tom Szaky, the CEO of TerraCycle and one of the project’s founders, explains why the company was created. “To us, the root cause of waste is not plastic, per se, it’s using things once, and that’s really what Loop tries to change as much as possible.”
Making a change
The concept is simple. The company provides name-brand, common products like Crest mouthwash and Haagen-Dazs ice cream in reusable containers, which are delivered directly to a customer’s home. Once the customer has finished using a product, they simply send it back to Loop.
The outer packaging that the products arrive in is reusable as well. There are no cardboard boxes or pieces of plastic bubble wrap – everything comes in a sturdy tote designed to withstand the journey to a customer’s house.
Convenient zero-waste shopping
Loop’s creators know that the main reason why so few people live a zero-waste lifestyle is because they don’t find it convenient, or because zero-waste products are sometimes expensive. That’s why they partnered with companies like Procter & Gamble and Unilever, which make many common household products. In this way, the company aims to appeal to a wider customer base – not just to those who have already “gone green“.
Unlike other initiatives that require customers to make huge changes in the products they buy, and the way they buy them, Loop aims to match the convenience of tossing a plastic container in the trash. In fact, you don’t even have to clean the reusable containers before you send them back. Nor do you have to bring them to the post office yourself – a delivery person will pick them up off your doorstep.
“The goal isn’t as much to get you to change, it’s instead to create systems that don’t make you change – but have you then solve the issue in the process,” Szaky said.
Loop will launch pilot programs in two cities – New York City and Paris – as early as this spring. This will give the company the ability to test the durability of the shipping totes and efficiency of the ordering process.
8 of the 10 companies that Greenpeace listed as the planet’s biggest contributors to the plastic waste crisis are already on board to take part in the pilot program. In addition, some of these companies have even modified their products for the new platform; for example, Unilever is producing chewable toothpaste tablets instead of toothpaste tubes. Even diapers will become recyclable with Loop, as the company has designed their own line of nappies made from recyclable materials.
If you would like to get Loop products delivered to your doorstep, visit https://loopstore.com to register.
Photo credits: phys.org, Loop. TerraCycle, The Columbian, The Boston Globe.