By Kim Robson:
The days of single-use plastic are numbered. Most of us are too young to remember when a milkman delivered dairy products in reusable glass containers. Also gone are the days of glass soda bottles. But, when I go to Mexico, I can drink real cane sugar Coca-Cola from reusable glass bottles. Tastes better, too. Heaven knows what chemicals from plastic containers are outgassing into our beverages, not to mention the prevalence of plastic pollution in our oceans and waterways. But changes are being made. My favorite sports barrecently switched to paper straws, and personally, I love them! So nostalgic. Bit by bit, major companies are opting to eliminate single-use disposable plastics.
On January 24th, 2019, twenty-five major companies announced that they soon will offer products in refillable, reusable containers. In a pilot project called Loop, companies will partner with waste management company TerraCycle, paying to be part of the project and committing to designing reusable packaging. These companies will offer their products in glass or stainless steel containers rather than single-use disposable packaging. They include the following:
- Axe and Dove deodorants
- Pantene shampoo
- Crest toothpaste
- Febreze air freshener
- Cascade detergent
- Clorox bleach
- Seventh Generation cleaners
- Tide laundry detergent
- Quaker cereal
- Hellman’s mayonnaise
- Tropicana orange juice
- Hidden Valley Ranch dressing
- Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream
Starting in April, Ben & Jerry’s will replace disposable plastic spoons and straws with wooden spoons and paper straws, saving approximately 30 million plastic spoons and 2.5 million plastic straws from landfills every year. They’ve also committed to sourcing more easily recyclable pint containers; currently their thin coating of polyethylene (for a moisture barrier) makes them effectively nonrecyclable in most places. In a press release, Jenna Evans, sustainability manager for Ben & Jerry’s, said, “We’re not going to recycle our way out of this problem. We, and the rest of the world, need to get out of single-use plastic.” Häagen-Dazs already has set the bar by introducing a new stainless steel container. Best case solution, at least in their stores? Get your ice cream in a cone — it’s edible packaging!
Ben & Jerry’s is owned by Unilever, which was one of the first companies to partner with TerraCycle. The makers of Earth’s Best and Ella’s Kitchen brands of baby food use TerraCycle to let parents return pouches for processingand industrial manufacturer Henkel, maker of LOCTITE® adhesives, launched its Anaerobic Adhesive Recycling Programwith TerraCycle, sending customers a postage-paid recycling box to fill with empty adhesive containers.
The Loop pilot project will be launching in May 2019 for 5,000 shoppers in New York and Paris who’ve already signed up, then expanding to London at the end of the year, and moving to Toronto, Tokyo, and San Francisco in 2020. How does it work?
Customers will use a retail website such as Amazon as usual, but will pay a fully refundable deposit for reusable packaging. The items will be delivered in a reusable tote — sort of a modern version of the old-fashioned milkman. Then the empty containers will be returned to the tote and conveniently picked up by a UPS driver. Best part: they don’t need to be cleaned and, even if the containers are damaged, your deposit will be returned in full. The only way to lose your deposit is not to return the containers via the tote.
Recycling is proving to be a failing industry, and consumers are demanding reusable packaging. We’re seeing small dairies returning to milkman delivery services. Microbreweries are offering refillable beer growlers (and Whole Foods and Kroger are offering in-store beer taps!). Millions of people are enjoying refilling their SodaStreambottles with custom-crafted sodas. Zero-waste, package-free grocery stores, where you bring your own (pre-weighed) containers and fill them with bulk goods, are popping up. Click hereto find one near you!