P&G, Unilever and Nestle back service to sell goods in reusable packaging

The biggest CPG marketers in the world are taking part in a new experiment to reduce single-use packaging.

P&G, Unilever, Nestle and PepsiCo are among the companies who plan to start using some reusable and refillable containers, which will be delivered to consumers and then picked-up and cleaned for re-use through a partnership with the recycling firm TerraCycle.

Disposable plastic containers will be replaced by glass, aluminum and stainless steel. Products from shampoo, soap, laundry detergent and toothpaste, to ice cream and even refillable deodorant sticks, could be available through the new service, called Loop, which was unveiled at the World Economic Forum in Davos Thursday.

Nestle will sell Häagen-Dazs in a reusable stainless steel double-walled ice cream container, for example. P&G will offer Tide in a bottle made from stainless steel.

Loop will be piloted with 5,000 consumers in New York and Paris this spring, before rolling out to London later this year. It is scheduled to be introduced in Toronto in 2020.

Customers will buy their products from the Loop site, placing an order that will be delivered in a reusable tote. Once the products are done, the consumer places the empty container back in the tote and calls for a pick-up. Loop then cleans the empty containers for re-use. Prices are expected to be about the same as single-use options, although customers will pay a deposit on the container

According to the Wall Street Journal, the small scale of the service and cost to develop the packaging means Loop won’t be profitable right away. “You simply have to start somewhere to test it and see what the barriers are and who actually buys into the model,” Unilever’s research-and-development chief, David Blanchard told WSJ. “If there are sufficient people, then you can scale it.”

“We want to put an end to the current “take-make-dispose” culture and are committed to taking big steps towards designing our products for re-use,” said Unilever CEO Alan Jope in a release. “We’re proud to be a founding partner of Loop, which will deliver our much-loved brands in packaging which is truly circular by design.”

“Loop provides a much-needed innovation platform, challenging companies to take a fresh look at our value chains and integrate reusable product packaging as part of our efforts to waste-reduction,” said Laurent Freixe, Nestlé CEO for Zone Americas.

David Brown