LOOP or Light? New Plastics Initiatives | Waste Wise Products

LOOP or Light? New Plastics Initiatives

Loop or Light? New Plastics Initiatives

Large corporations, small businesses, municipalities, and American families are looking for ways to reduce plastics waste, specifically product packaging, which accounts for 36% of plastics that end in landfills. Even with recycling initiatives, awareness, and new programs, 90.5% of plastic has never been recycled. This alarming number was given the dubious honor of Statistic of the Year by the Royal Statistical Society.

After China changed its import of recyclables last year, the recycling industry has been trying to find ways forward. Many large businesses that sell consumer products have also been looking for alternatives to plastic in packaging. Greenpeace has been leading efforts to encourage large corporations to reduce single-use plastic packaging, and companies are taking heed and trying new solutions. The two new initiatives leading the pack are the refill and reuse option, and the new lightweight plastics.

LOOP Project

LOOP is a project of the recycling company TerraCycle. They have partnered with many of the largest consumer goods companies, such as Proctor and Gamble, PepsiCo, Unilever, and others to offer consumers an option to use refillable product packaging. The products are delivered in a LOOP box by UPS, and the box is saved, refilled with the containers after use, and returned for cleaning and refilling. Many natural food co-ops still offer glass milk bottles from local dairies, and this model is similar to the one LOOP is sponsoring. The products will be limited in number at first, and the geographic regions will be limited during beta testing, but the involvement of some of the major players in consumer products and plastics packaging is a hopeful sign. And they are including ice cream!

Light Plastics

Some of the new lightweight plastics are being designed for both easy recycling and smaller use of plastics materials. Evian has designed a water balloon that fits on top of a dispenser, and as the water empties, the lightweight plastic decompresses into a small ball of fully recyclable plastic. This new mineral water dispenser is designed for in-home use and is part of a larger group of initiatives Evian is trying. They have a stated goal to become the first mineral water company that is carbon-neutral by 2020, and they have committed to fully recyclable plastic bottles by 2025. They are also offering a refill and reuse option with glass bottles in Paris this year.

Consumers can get used to anything new, but the practice over the last 60 years has been to offer increased ease of use and convenience with new products. LOOP is working to make the new system as convenient and straightforward to use as possible and may benefit from the rapid increase in consumers buying their groceries and other consumer products online. If they can sync their program with other large online retailers of consumer goods, such as Amazon or Walmart, they will have significantly increased the convenience factor.

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