This summer, a group of 25 big name brands including Pepsi, Nestlé and Procter & Gamble will test out a new program that sells products in reusable containers in an effort to combat rampant plastic waste, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The new program, dubbed Loop, will be run by recycling company, TerraCycle, and will kick off in May, starting with 5,000 shoppers in New York and Paris. From there it will branch out to more locations like London, Toronto and Tokyo over the next year.
Some examples of the new packaging include Pepsi selling Tropicana orange juice in glass bottles, and Häagen-Dazs putting its ice cream in steel containers. The Journal writes that prices for these products will be roughly the same as their plastic counterparts, but there will be a deposit of $1 – $10 per container (plus shipping). Shoppers order items through a website for home delivery and when they are done, schedule a pickup for the containers which will be cleaned and reused.
It’s always good to be skeptical of big brands whenever they appear to be making some kind of altruistic move–they are in business to make money, not save the planet. But this trial is coming at a time when people are waking up to just how much plastic waste we’re generating. National Geographic reports that 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic has been created over the past six decades and only 9 percent of it has been recycled. It gets worse, as U.S. plastic recycling was projected to decrease to just 4.4 percent last year.
The good news, though, is that a number of regulators, companies and startups are tackling the problem head on. Last year more than 60 countries introduced initiatives to ban single-use plastic. Companies like Starbucks and Disney and Hyatt are banning single use plastic straws. Vessel Works launched a reusable coffee cup program in Colorado. And zero waste grocery stores are starting to pop up.
Will all this activity move the needle for convenience-addicted shoppers (myself included) to ditch their old habits and try something new? The ease of buying the normal plastic containers will be a hard habit for a lot of people to break. Hopefully Pepsi, Nestlé and all the brands participating in this new trial will design a recycling program that works, stick with it and throw some of their considerable marketing muscle behind it to make it a success — and help make us move on from plastic.