Some of the world’s biggest branded consumer products and food companies, including Procter & Gamble, Nestle, PepsiCo and Unilever are planning to begin trial sales of their products using reusable packaging.
The recycling company, TerraCycle, will handle deliveries and pickups of the products and their packaging. Saabira Chaudhuri reports for The Wall Street Journal:
Refillables once dominated industries such as beer and soft drinks but lost out to convenient, affordable single-use containers. In 1947, refillables made up 100% of soft-drink containers by volume and 86% of beer containers, according to the Container Recycling Institute, a nonprofit. By 1998 those figures dropped to 0.4% and 3.3%, respectively.
While a handful of entrepreneurs have founded businesses that sell shampoo and detergents in refillable containers, and some grocery stores sell in bulk to consumers who bring their own containers, the practice is niche.
“From a philosophical point of view, we have got to lean in and learn about this stuff,” said Simon Lowden, president of PepsiCo’s global snacks group, who also leads a task force on plastic waste. “People talk about recyclability and reuse and say they’d like to be involved in helping the environment, so let’s see if it’s true.”
PepsiCo will sell its Tropicana orange juice in a glass bottle and Quaker Chocolate Cruesli cereal in a stainless-steel container as part of the trial.
P&G will sell 10 brands, including Pantene shampoo in an aluminum bottle, Tide laundry detergent in a stainless-steel container and an Oral B toothbrush with a durable handle and a replaceable head.
“It’s really about a new delivery system and making sure once people are hooked into this they stay with the product,” said P&G’s chief sustainability officer, Virginie Helias.
Shoppers who the companies select for the trial will be able to order hundreds of products—including Nestlé’s Häagen-Dazs ice cream and Clorox Co.’s wet wipes—from a website for home delivery. Products arrive in a reusable tote with no extra packaging. Once finished, users schedule a pickup for empty containers to be cleaned and refilled. They can sign up for a subscription-based service that replenishes products once empty containers are returned. TerraCycle will handle delivery, returns and cleaning.
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