Szaky notes some 200 products have been foundationally redesigned by the world’s largest CPGs to accommodate this platform. “That means designing packaging to be reusable rather than recyclable,” he said. Haagen Dazs’ paper containers cannot be recycled so the containers had to be redesigned to be reusable, for example, and Unilever deodorant containers were not locally recyclable by the way they were constructed and also had to undergo a redesign.
David Blanchard, Unilever’s Chief R&D Officer, said, “We’re acutely aware of the causes and consequences of the linear ‘take-make-dispose’ model of consumption. And we want to change it. That’s why we’re proud to be a founding partner of the Loop Alliance with nine Unilever brands. These brands have all embraced the challenge to redefine how consumers access the products they love, whilst eliminating waste. We believe this collaboration will complement our existing efforts to help create a packaging system that is truly circular by design.”
With the redesign some labeling had to be changed to accommodate the reuse of containers which must undergo washing in hot soapy water to ensure sterilization. In some cases the labels remain on the containers. Szkay said that “it’s up to the supplier to do the design and labeling, which would be adhesive or glue-on, or etching or printing directly on the package.”
When asked about a cost comparison between Loop’s platform and traditional plastic production, given the resources and energy used in two-way shipping, cleaning, potential relabeling and so forth, Szaky said that “if you add together the cost of the bottle depreciation and cost of washing at scale, it gets to about the same price. The packaging is an asset that amortizes over the number of uses.”
Szaky concuded that “Loop will not just eliminate the idea of packaging waste, but greatly improve the product experience and the convenience in how we shop. Through Loop, consumers can now responsibly consume products in specially designed durable, reusable or fully recyclable packaging made from materials like alloys, glass and engineered plastics. When a consumer returns the packaging, it is refilled, or the content is reused or recycled through groundbreaking technology.”