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In 2015, from the 34.5 million tons of plastic waste that was created in the U.S., less than 10 percent was recycled; that’s over 31 million tons of plastic waste ending up in landfills and the ocean. In fact, 91 percent of all plastic waste ever created has never been recycled. The Royal Statistical Society named this concerning statistic the 2018 International Statistic of the Year. If the single-use plastic trend continues, plastics are predicted to outweigh the fish in the ocean, ton for ton, by 2050.
Single-use packages were idealized and promoted in mainstream media between the 1930s and 1960s, prompting its standardization in today’s society. Advertisements created during this time promoted the low cost of ‘toss-away’ products, such as Scott Plastic Cups and ScotTowels, and the time savings throwaway-living had in daily tasks.
Today, a majority of products that are purchased are packaged in single-use plastic because of its high convenience and low cost. From food to hygiene products, single-use plastics are commonplace for packaging. In fact, almost 1 million plastic beverage bottles are purchased worldwide every minute, accelerating the amount of single-use plastics ending up in landfills and oceans.
We have all heard of the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” but instead of focusing on the concept at large, a startup company, called Loop, is focusing their efforts on reusable containers. In using reusable containers for the packaging of every day products, Loop hopes to decrease plastic packaging waste.
Tom Szaky, CEO of TerraCycle, an innovative recycling company and global leader in recycling hard-to-recycle waste, launched Loop in 2019 in hopes of bringing reusable packaging to the world’s largest brands. Loop created a 5-step process to deliver household products to the homes of customers in attempt to lessen single-use plastic packaging. Loop’s 5-step process is as follows:
Like the milk man did many years ago, Loop is looking to deliver goods to the doorsteps of customers, striving to be the 21st century milk man. Today, companies sell not only their product, but the package it comes in. Companies often make the cheapest possible packaging for their product because it isn’t returned to the company; thus, it is ultimately up to the consumer and their municipality to recycle the package.
In Loop’s model, the company owns the reusable package, which can be counted as a longer-term asset on their balance sheet. This incentivizes the manufacturer to create a durable, sleek container for its products. These containers are designed to last 100 or more ‘use cycles’ and have a counter-worthy aesthetic for retail display. Once these containers are no longer suitable for reuse, TerraCycle will properly recycle them.
Some companies have already implemented the reuse of containers for their products. For example, small dairies are bringing back the milk man through delivery services, beer and kombucha companies are investing in reusable growlers, and co-ops are encouraging customers to bring their own containers to fill with soaps, flour, and other products. In younger generations already striving to live package free, Loop could expand this lifestyle worldwide.
Loop is currently in the experimental phase, recently introducing a soft launch in New York and Paris. This allows time to iron out any kinks before expanding to London later in 2019 and Toronto, Tokyo, and San Francisco in 2020. If customers continue their use with Loop, TerraCycle may have found a solution to assist with the plastic waste problem. Szaky hopes that in 50 years, we will look back at waste as a strange anomaly and that the plastic industry will have come full circle.
Rocket Industrial has a goal of removing at least 1,000,000 pounds of packaging material from the waste stream annually, using the mantra Package with Less to reach this goal. Be part of the solution today by contacting our team of packaging specialists.