Closing the Waste Loop with Eric Rosen (TerraCycle)
I am so excited to have you on the show for today’s guest! If you’re new to the show, I’ve mentioned the innovative waste management company TerraCycle from the very beginning. TerraCycle partners with companies across the globe to recycle products and packages that would otherwise be landfilled or incinerated – everything from cigarette butts to dirty diapers! This has helped keep waste from our environment, but there is still the problem of getting these items to TerraCycle for them to remanufacture into something new and honestly the creation of single-use items in the first place. They knew that recycling alone is not the answer to the world’s waste problem.
In comes the brainchild of TerraCycle – Loop. Loop reimagines the way we shop – reducing waste at the source through the design and innovation of the products themselves with their company partners. It’s as simple as buying the products you love, and completing a simple and sustainable return when you’re finished.
It’s a solution to the root cause of waste, not just dealing with the symptoms of it.
In this episode, we get to hear from PR expert, Eric Rosen, about the Loop process their mission to Eliminate the Idea of Waste® worldwide.
Get ready to be blown away as you hear more about the sustainable future of consumption.
Meet Eric Rosen
Eric, the PR expert you’ll hear from on today’s podcast – works with Terracycle and Loop to help create a waste free world.
“I’ve been with Loops actually since before its inception. Loop kicked off in July of 2019. I was with the company even before that I handled media and public relations for Loop in North America.”
If you want to hear more about the work Eric is doing over at Loop – click the link below!
What is LoopFor those that don’t know, (Loop) is a global reuse platform that is enabled by a multi-stakeholder coalition of manufacturers, retailers and consumers that aims to eliminate the idea of waste and what it does is it partners with brands and retailers to shift from a disposable to a durable supply chain, which ultimately enables consumers to responsibly shop for a wide variety of commonly used products from shampoo to Clorox, to Haagen-Dazs ice cream to Coca-Cola. In other words, Loop is a set of innovative stewards of the land who partner with companies to reduce waste at the source by shifting to more durable, eco-friendly products in a circular consumption model. And it is growing rapidly! After launching in the US and Paris in 2019, Loop expanded to the UK, France, Canada, and Japan. Eric says that at the time of this interview in the United States Loop is available in-store in 25 Fred Meyers (a Kroger brand) in the Portland, Oregon Metro area, but the goal is to continue to rapidly expand across the country. They are also expanding into Burger King and McDonald’s with their reusable materials.
We have been talking about practicing better waste management in the last few episodes – with a particular focus on reframing waste as a resource. So how does Loop view waste?
“Loop’s parent company is a company called TerraCycle. It’s been around for about 20 years. And is the global leader in recycling partner, recycled waste, cigarette butts, bubblegum things that are typically not recycled. And TerraCycle and Loop share a mission – and that is to really eliminate the idea of waste.
So what we hope is that we see moving forward a world of products that come and durable and reusable packaging. And even though TerraCycle is a recycling company, we don’t believe that we can recycle our way out of the waste crisis that we have to attack waste at the root cause, which is to not create it in the first place.
And that’s what Loop really drives. It’s the idea of developing and creating a circular economy.”
The Loop Process
All of Loop’s products are durable and reusable – but how does the actual process work? I asked Eric to walk us through a day-in-the-life of an ideal world with Loop.
“One of the things that Loop wants to do is make the process and the shopping and the returning as convenient as possible for the consumer. The ultimate goal of Loop is actually to have a consumer be able to shop anywhere and return anywhere.
So ultimately a consumer could shop at a Fred Meyer in Portland and return at a Tesco in the UK. So that’s the ultimate goal is to truly to be able to buy anywhere and return anywhere and to be ubiquitous. So that, really, you could take your shampoo on an airplane, finish it in the UK, and return it there.”
Just like any other shopping trip, you’d walk into the store where there would be a Loop aisle(s). All of the products would be on the shelves in beautiful, functional packaging and you would them shop like you normally do!
“I’d shop no differently than I would if I were in the rest of the store, purchasing other products. In the Loop model, the brand owns the package and the consumer only purchases the product. Now, in a typical packaging and what we’re used to, when you walk into the store and you buy Pantene, you want the Pantene, you don’t want the package. You use the shampoo, you throw the package. Loop is sort of like the milkman of old. So the brand owns the package.”
Use and return
You’d take the items home, just like you would any other product, and when they’re empty – you simply drop them off at the store and go shopping for your next purchases.
“It doesn’t require you to go out of your way. It doesn’t require you to do anything differently than you would do anyway.”
Reuse and Recycle
You can return the container in any form, and they will use their proprietary methods to clean, sanitize, and reuse the container. Since the brand owns the packaging, they can decide when to pull the container off of the shelves. After that, they are likely to send it back to TerraCycle to be recycled again – closing the Loop.
Responsibility of Waste
In our episode on Recycling Basics, we talked about the fact that we have to be responsible for our waste. This involves making sure we clean, rinse, dry, and recycle correctly in order for the system to work.
But with Loop, you don’t have to do that. Loop can solve the issue of individual responsibility and effort while instilling confidence in the consumer to participate in Loop.
“While it would be wonderful if corporations were truly being good corporate citizens. What really moves the needle for corporations is consumer demand. And what you’re seeing now more and more is our consumers who are really voting with their wallet and pocketbooks and it’s driving more and more brands to become more and more sustainable.
From the consumer’s perspective, and we go back to being as convenient as possible when you were talking about cleaning – to drop it into your blue bin for recycling you need it rinsed. It can’t be contaminated. With Loop, I’ll keep reiterating, the idea is to be as convenient as possible and as simple as possible so that a consumer doesn’t have to change their behavior. It’s what’s going to make the platform effective. The consumer has to do absolutely nothing except return the pack and the pack can be dirty dented.”
For the Environment
You might be wondering why you would choose Loop over other offerings at the store? The choice is SIMPLE. Loop is reusable and reduces waste from our environment at the source.
“We want every consumer to use Loop products, not because it’s a Loop product, but because it’s better for the environment, better for the planet. Again, and I’m pounding away at this, but the idea to make it as simple, as convenient as possible. So yes, not for just the sustainable minded person, but for everybody.
And the products are identical. If you’re shopping for Pantene, why not shop for Pantene and a reusable pack? You’re using the Pantene anyway.”
For Aesthetics and Functionality
Take a look at you’ll see that Loop products are unmistakably beautiful. But they aren’t just something aesthetic to look at but also elevate the function of the packaging to serve you better.
“I mentioned Haagen-Dazs, Haagen-Dazs created a stainless steel double wall pack. That is absolutely gorgeous to look at. And, you know, we’re used to the waxy throw-away ice cream, container. What they developed was something really, really nice. And some of these also have features that you don’t see with single use packaging. That Haagen-Dazs container, if left out on the counter, will keep your ice cream frozen for hours.”
So with added benefits to the planet, aesthetics, and functionality – you might be thinking “What is this going to cost?” You’ll be pleased to hear that the cost of these products is comparable to the single-use alternative even with its added bonuses. Because the companies own the product packaging and they need to be recycled, there is a small deposit on every package that is a hundred percent refunded when the pack is returned.
“As soon as the brand gets the pack back, the deposit is refunded. It doesn’t matter if the package is dented, ding dirty, filthy, smashed – doesn’t matter.”
The sustainability lifecycle
The goal is to help things stay away from that waste stream and to be as sustainable as possible. We want to keep it in the reuse, recycle, recovery area if possible. Normal recyclables that people would find in their households are only used once and kind of can be recycled a couple of times, depending on if they did it correctly. However, Loop’s products can be reused up to 100 times and they’re fully recyclable.
Once the product has been reused and pulled from the store due to imperfections, most things will be returned to TerraCycle to be pelletized.
“Those pellets can be turned into virtually anything. We’ve turned pellets into shipping pallets. We’ve turned pellets into picnic benches, playgrounds. Once something is pelletized, you can print it into just about anything. I mentioned that TerraCycle recycles cigarette butts. If you take a cigarette butt the filter is mostly plastic and the rest of the cigarette. The tobacco and the paper is compostable. TerraCycle separates the two things, takes the plastic, pelletizes it, and turns it into shipping pallets. In an ideal world, you might take the container and turn it back into itself, but that’s not guaranteed.”
You’ve heard of the big-name brands that work with Loop – but who do they decide to work with and what are the criteria? Eric tells us that they want to work with all companies who are willing to develop and change their supply chain to accommodate reusable, durable packaging.
“Unilever or Procter and gamble are the biggest of the big multinational corporations partnered with us. Pantene, Clorox Coca-Cola nature’s path. McCormick spices – those are some of the big ones. Then we’ve got smaller mom-and-pop businesses. So companies large and small multinational, not multinational.”
Even one of my favorite companies, Meow Meow Tweet, is on the list!
Final Thoughts on Loop
“Not often do you participate in something that you think truly could change the world. My feeling going to work every day is that I’m I am doing something that is truly making a difference and changing the world. It’s one of my favorite things watching this grow from just the concept in 2018 to being on four continents in 2022 is incredibly exciting.
We’re in a waste crisis and the more solutions the better, and it’s great to be a part of something that is developing solutions.”
To find out more please visit ExploreLoop.com.
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