Described as the '21st-century milkman', Loop programmes have already been operational in both New York and Paris

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The Loop platform allows consumers to order products in refillable packaging (Credit: Loop)

“Zero waste” online reusable packaging platform Loop has launched a UK pilot programme in partnership with supermarket chain Tesco.

The scheme allows consumers to order products including beverages, yoghurt, shampoo, and toothpaste in customised, brand-specific refillable packaging.

Tesco’s partnership with Loop, part of its Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle strategy, is aimed at understanding how a shopping service using reusable packaging can work in the UK.

The retailer will be inviting customers to test the service, with both companies aiming to make reusable packaging products available at Tesco stores as early as 2021.

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis said: “Through our closed-loop strategy of Remove, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, Tesco has a clear ambition to reduce packaging.

“Our ground-breaking partnership with Loop has been designed to test a new way of helping customers use less plastic and explore the exciting potential of reuse.

“We will learn what works at scale as we develop plans with Loop to introduce reusable packaging into our business.”


How will the Loop platform work in the UK?

Recycling company TerraCycle launched Loop at the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, as a solution allowing consumer goods manufacturers to reuse their containers.

Explaining how the business was initially set up to NS Packaging earlier in the year, TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky said: “We asked ourselves whether or not recycling and making products from recycled content was going to solve the garbage problem.

“We realised that it’s an incredibly important thing to do, but it’s only solving the symptom of waste and not really eliminating the idea of it – or solving the root cause.

“And that led us on an exploration that crystallised with Loop.

“Loop is a platform designed to enable reuse while maintaining the affordability and convenience of disposability.”

Described by TerraCycle as the “21st-century milkman”, Loop programmes have been up and running in Paris and New York.

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Products are delivered to and returned by consumers through Loop’s specially designed Tote bags (Credit: Loop)

UK consumers order products from Loop’s web store, which are then delivered in the company’s custom made Tote bag. When a user is finished with the product, the packaging is placed back into the bag, collected, and returned to the organisation.

In the UK, Tote bag pick-ups can be conducted a couple of ways, with consumers able to schedule a pick up from their home or drop the bag at one of 2,500 DPD collection points across the country.

The packaging is then cleaned and replenished, creating a convenient and safe zero-waste shopping system.

Customers pay a deposit fee on each product they purchase, but this is refunded when the packaging is returned to Loop.

Speaking on Loop’s UK launch, Szaky said: “Loop was designed from the ground up to reinvent the way we consume by learning from historic circular and sustainable models like the milkman from yesteryear while honouring the convenience afforded by our single-use consumption of today.

“Tesco is the perfect partner to bring Loop to retail in the UK due to its commitment to sustainability, in combating plastics waste, and its operational scale as the UK’s biggest grocery retailer.”


Coca-Cola and Heinz among brands selling products through Loop

Loop has engaged with multiple consumer product companies to make and sell reusable products through the system, with Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Danone, Nievia, Bulldog skincare, Persil, and BrewDog all working with the company.

BrewDog’s CEO and founder James Watt said: “We are proud to be working with Loop to deliver an innovative and circular packaging solution to our customers.

“Single-use packaging is a big challenge within our industry and, as part of our BrewDog Tomorrow plans, we are focused on using more sustainable packaging solutions, whilst eliminating all plastics in our business.

“We are on a mission to make BrewDog the most sustainable drinks brand on the planet.”

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Heinz Tomato Ketchup is one product range available for purchase on the Loop store (Credit: Loop)

Kraft Heinz northern European president Jojo de Noronha added: “We’re turning our iconic Heinz Tomato Ketchup green with the help of Loop.

“Here at Heinz, we are so proud to be a part of this revolutionary new scheme with Loop, and this new partnership is an exciting milestone in our journey to ensuring 100% of our packaging is recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.

“Our patented iconic glass octagonal Heinz Tomato Ketchup bottle is 130 years old this year and is just as relevant today as it was then, making it the perfect packaging solution for the Loop partnership — ready for refill and reuse time after time.”

Coca-Cola European Partners is another company partnering with the Loop, selling both Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar on Loop’s web store.

Coca-Cola European Partners Great Britain’s vice-president and general manager Leendert den Hollander said: “With sustainability central to our strategy, we’re committed to working with supply chain partners and our customers to find innovative and sustainable ways of delivering soft drinks to consumers.

“At Coca-Cola European Partners, we widely use refillable packaging to deliver our drinks to consumers and customers across Europe.

“Being part of the TerraCycle Loop platform helps us supply these packs to shoppers in Great Britain and gives us an opportunity to understand the role they can play in helping us to achieve our vision of a world without waste.”


‘Culture shift’ from disposable to circular packaging needed, says WWF-UK boss

Tanya Steele, CEO of environmental charity the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in the UK, believes Tesco’s trial is a “welcome first step” to understanding how these types of schemes could work in the future.

She said: “We are delighted that Tesco is partnering with Loop to offer customers an alternative to disposable packaging.

“There needs to be a cultural shift, from a society that is reliant on disposable products and packaging, to one that embraces a circular model.

“At the heart of this is reusability, which is why Tesco’s Loop trial is a welcome first step in understanding how initiatives like this could work at scale in the future.”