Business

Online platform Loop launches refill partnership with Tesco

Loop, a zero waste shopping platform offering a host of everyday products in reusable refillable packaging, has launched a pilot with founding UK retail partner Tesco.

UK consumers can now order a range of products in reusable packaging at Loop's online store, paying a deposit which is refundable when the packaging is returned.

Yesterday’s launch (15 July) saw the debut of 150 product lines available for purchase online at Loop's online store, with deposits ranging from 20p to £5. Using Loop-branded reusable shopping bags, customers will be able to return the packaging by scheduling a pickup from their home, or dropping off the tote bags at one of the 2,500 DPD collection points across the UK. The packaging will then be cleaned according to health and safety standards before being refilled.

Loop-branded tote bag with a selection of available products
The Loop-branded tote bag with a selection of available products
Loop’s packaging is designed to be reused a minimum of 10 times, with the goal of up to 100 cycles. Using cleaning facilities provided by Ecolab Inc, Loop says products can be safely sanitised before being returned to brands to be refilled and sent to the next consumer.

Both companies will work together with the goal of making the service available in-store at selected Tesco locations as early as 2021.

Dave Lewis, Tesco Group CEO, said: “Through our closed loop strategy of Remove, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, Tesco has a clear ambition to reduce packaging. Our ground-breaking partnership with Loop has been designed to test a new way of helping customers use less plastic and explore the exciting potential of reuse. We will learn what works at scale as we develop plans with Loop to introduce reusable packaging into our business.”

Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of Loop and TerraCycle, said: “Loop was designed from the ground-up to reinvent the way we consume by learning from historic circular and sustainable models like the milkman from yesteryear, while honouring the convenience afforded by our single use consumption of today.

“Tesco is the perfect partner to bring Loop to retail in the UK due to its commitment to sustainability, in combating plastics waste, and its operational scale as the UK’s biggest grocery retailer.”

Run by TerraCycle, Loop was launched at the World Economic Forum in January 2019, supported by a host of international producers and retailers such as Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Unilever.

The global pandemic has seen a shift back towards single-use items in the food service industry due to concerns about the spread of the virus, however, government advice states that the risk of cross-contamination from food and food packaging is very low. With this in mind, Loop has developed unique cleaning systems tailored to each type of packaging offered.

Experts have reassured concerns over the safety of reusables, with a statement being released in June, supported by environmental campaign groups Greenpeace and UPSTREAM, declaring that reusable containers are safe to use during the Covid-19 pandemic, provided hygiene measures are followed. This is a view that Stephen Clarke, Loop’s Head of Communications, has previously echoed, noting that there has been “no consumer backlash in terms of reuse during Covid-19”, with April and May 2020 being its best performing months.

In April, Martin Kersh, Executive Director of the Foodservice Packaging Association wrote to Environment Secretary George Eustice requesting his acknowledgement of “the hygiene benefits and feeling of safety and security” single-use packaging can bring for consumers and caters. Similar views have been expressed in the US, with plans to ban single-use packaging experiencing delays. However, Greenpeace have since commented that some are “opportunistically using this public health crisis to exploit people’s fears around sanitation and hygiene to interfere with legislation banning or regulating the use of single-use plastic, most notably on plastic bags.”

Commenting on the launch of Loop UK, Louis Edge, senior campaigner at Greenpeace, said: "The rising demand for home deliveries on the back of COVID presents a real opportunity for innovation in reusable packaging. It's great news that Tesco and Loop have seized this opportunity, and are allowing online shoppers to use refillable containers for items from drinks to shampoo."

"Replacing throwaway packaging with refillable containers won’t just help stem plastic pollution and protect wildlife. By preventing swaps from single use plastic to cardboard, it helps protect our forests too. Plus, reuse can deliver reduction in greenhouse gases, so it’s a win win win for the environment.

"Tesco and Loop have taken the lead, now it's time for all supermarkets to catch up and invest in the waste-saving reuse systems that are set to be the future of grocery shopping."

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