This Just In: Unilever, P&G, And PepsiCo Are Changing Their Packaging To Help Out The Planet

mbg Senior Sustainability Editor By Emma Loewe
mbg Senior Sustainability Editor
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care."
This Just In: Unilever, P&G, And PepsiCo Are Changing Their Packaging To Help Out The Planet

Image by Mauro Grigollo / Stocksy

Today, global recycling giant TerraCycle is announcing its plan to make single-use plastic a thing of the past.

The company unveiled its new initiative, Loop, at the World Economic Forum in Davos alongside massive brand partners such as Unilever, Procter & Gamble Company, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo. They have all agreed to veer away from disposable packaging and distribute more food, beauty, and personal care products in reusable packaging. The kicker? TerraCycle will activate postal services around the world to pick up people's empties right from their home. It's similar to a curbside recycling service, except the "trash" collected won't have to be broken down and reassembled. In fact, it won't really be trash at all—just a container that can be used again and again.

"When consumers purchase virtually any product, they don't want the packaging. Loop solves for that." Eric Rosen, a publicist for TerraCycle tells mindbodygreen.

Beyond being convenient for consumers, this more circular supply chain is better for the planet. And the fact that some of the biggest companies in the world are already signing on to it means that the day of reckoning for single-use plastic could (finally!!!) be upon us.

Why reusable is the way of the future.

This Just In: Unilever, P&G, And PepsiCo Are Changing Their Packaging To Help Out The Planet

Image by Loop / Contributor

"The garbage problem just keeps getting worse and worse," TerraCycle founder and CEO Tom Szaky told mbg last spring. China's decision to stop accepting foreign recyclables has left many countries with a backlog of trash, a reminder that to really get our waste under control, we all need to look beyond the blue bin.

"Recycling is like Tylenol: You take it when you have a headache, but there are better ways to never get the headache to begin with," Szaky said. In an ideal world, we'd all buy a lot less—and the things we do buy wouldn't result in any trash.

Loop is the first program of its kind to get so many manufacturers on board with shifting from a disposable mindset to a more durable one. "With this program, the idea of waste is eliminated," beams Rosen.

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How Loop will make your recycling bin way lighter.

In March, Loop will launch its first pilot program in Paris, followed by one in the New York City area. Consumers who sign on will be able to go online and order products from the Loop website (think: Häagen-Dazs ice cream that comes in a reusable can and Clorox disinfecting wipes in a sturdy metal dispenser), which will be delivered to their door in a special tote that Rosen likens to a big cooler.

"When the tote gets filled back up with empties, it's sent back to Loop. All of the packaging is then cleaned in a state-of-the-art cleaning system that is also new and has been developed for each of the products," he explains. From there, each container is cleaned, sanitized, refilled, and sent back out. The idea is that when your tote is en route back to Loop, a new one will already be on its way back to you.

Needless to say, this system will make shopping for household staples a whole lot easier. "Part of the allure of Loop is the convenience that comes with it," says Rosen. The convenience factor is key; it busts the myth that living more sustainably has to be a sacrifice.

If you're eager to try out this program, keep an eye on Loop's website for instructions on how to sign up. In the meantime, check out other companies looking to disrupt the retail model and push for a more circular economy, such as For Days, a subscription apparel company that lets you send in old shirts to be broken down and spun into new garments, and Harper Wilde, a bra company that offers a similar service.

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