UPS Team Up With Terra Cycle To Trial Reusable Packaging Bags For Delivery & Return | Valdamark

Terra Cycle seem to be working with everybody these days in order to reduce plastic packaging waste.

Supply Chain


The recycling company has just announced its partnership with UPS to launch a reusable eco packaging system called the ‘Loop’.

This was unveiled at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Customers get a choice of products that are delivered in bespoke, branded robust packaging. UPS then makes the delivery, collecting, cleaning, refilling and delivering again when needed.

UPS do the delivery and collection while Terra Cycle takes case of the clean up aspect.

The trial run is taking place in Paris & New York with New Jersey and Pennsylvania closely following.

They are looking to launch Loop in the UK sometime during 2019. Following that Tokyo and California sometime in 2020.

The goal is to drastically cut the single use packaging and head towards the circular supply chain model. UPS’S roll here is quite significant as they must both deliver and collect the packaging bags in a timely fashion.

If not the circular supply chain model becomes more like a horseshoe.

UPS have commented that in order for this to function a efficient logistics machine is needed to facilitate the model properly.

Indeed UPS have become somewhat used to this cycle due to the high numbers of returns generated by E-commerce shopping.

It would seem the real test comes when the packaging moves through the supply chain. Will it last through repeat exposure and usage?

Things to Know About the Loop

TerraCycle's Loop refillable program burst onto the scene with much anticipation and excitement. It was born because of the problem with single-use packaging.

For environmentally conscious consumers, it appeared to be the Holy Grail. It is a solution to the plastic pollution crisis. However, people can still enjoy their favourite products without contributing to the problem.

Loop's concept is simple.

  • Order products and use them
  • Return the containers to TerraCycle when empty
  • Containers are cleaned and reused

Voila! A perfect loop for everyone.

Initially, the Loop is an online delivery and pick-up service. However, it gained recognition. So, it expanded its reach through a series of strategic retail partnerships. These include Kroger (US) and Tesco (UK), Carrefour in France, and Loblaws in Canada. Aside from these partnerships, UPS also joined in.

This expansion signalled the start of a promising journey for the program. But it was not without its ups and downs.

COVID-19 Effect
One major challenge faced by Loop was the timing of its expansion. The expansion rollout coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic disrupted global supply chains and reshaped the retail landscape. During this period, businesses and consumers focused on managing the pandemic's impact. As a result, they diverted their attention away from zero-waste innovation.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, Loop management highlighted the transition. This shift allows retailers to take ownership of product distribution. So, instead, Loop developed the reverse supply chains.

With the support of Walmart and Carrefour, Loop made its service more accessible to a wider audience. It offers a seamless shopping experience that incorporates both Loop and non-Loop products.

Limited Availability
Limited product availability at a premium price persists. But, the collaboration with major retailers has made it easier for customers. With this, customers can integrate reusable packaging bags into their shopping routines. The combined convenience and environmental responsibility have the potential to bridge the gap until the service can further scale or secure additional funding.

Lessons from the Pilot Program
Both Kroger and Tesco discovered important insights from the pilot program. To increase adoption rates, Kroger enumerated two insights. One, they could expand the selection of brands. Two, they can integrate loyalty programs. While doing this, Kroger could stress the importance of clear messaging. That message is related to reusability and distinct packaging for reusable products.
Tesco, on the other hand, identified key motivators for purchasing reusable products. Customers have the desire to reduce single-use plastic. These customers want to contribute to environmental efforts. Tesco also highlighted some potential. The grocer can still save costs in many ways. These ways include shared cleaning, distribution, and refilling across various retail food and service businesses.

Ambitious but Promising Endeavour
Public awareness of the plastic pollution issue continues to grow. As a result, consumers are increasingly supportive of actions to reduce single-use plastic. The need for alternatives such as reusable packaging bags has become clearer.
Loop's mission is ambitious, with TerraCycle approaching the challenge from different angles. Despite some retailers discontinuing their programs, the interest remains strong among major grocers. It suggests that there is still hope for the program's future.

In conclusion, TerraCycle's Loop has embarked on a journey from promise to progress. It evolved and adapted to challenges along the way. There is still work to be done to achieve mass adoption and greater sustainability. But the momentum is building.

Loop remains a beacon of hope to reduce single-use plastic and protect our environment. Remember, consumers continue to look for alternatives. Thus, Loop and similar initiatives may play a pivotal role in the shift toward a more sustainable future.

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