We were excited when The Loop announced its re-useable packaging program in January of this year, as a number of big name CPG companies like Pepsi, Nestlé and Unilever had hopped on board. Today, The Loop announced that its waste reducing program has now launched here in the U.S., and added Kroger and Walgreens to its roster of partners.
As a refresher, The Loop (an initiative of waste management company Terracycle) sells name-brand CPG products in a way that harkens back to the milkman of yore. Products like ice cream, pancake mix and orange juice are sold in re-useable containers made from materials like metal or glass. These products ship directly to consumers who, after using them, put the empty containers back into the tote they arrived in, and The Loop picks everything back up to be sterilized, re-filled and re-sold.
While our plastic waste problem is huge in this country right now, sadly, The Loop’s availability is not. It’s initial pilot programs will only be available in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., specifically New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
If you are lucky enough to live in one of the select areas, you can visit loopstore.com, thekrogerco.com/loop or walgreens.com/loop to place an order. Though the press release didn’t mention it, CNN reports that customers will be able to pick up their Loop orders and drop off the empties at Kroger and Walgreens. And while all purchases happen exclusively online right now, Loop’s press release did say that down the road, there may be an option to purchase Loop products in stores at select Kroger and Walgreens markets.
The Loop is launching at the right time as companies across the food industry are looking at ways to reduce their plastic use. Earlier this week, Whole Foods announced it was getting rid of plastic straws, reducing the size of its plastic produce bags, and is no longer using hard plastic containers for its rotisserie chickens. And on a much broader scale, the EU voted to ban single-use plastics by 2021.
Today’s move by Kroger also reaffirms why we put them on The Spoon’s Food Tech 25: Companies Creating the Future of Food list this week. While we don’t know how U.S. consumers will react to The Loop’s re-packaging program, at least Kroger (and The Loop and Walgreens) is recognizing the issue of plastic waste and experimenting with a way to help reduce it.