Loop is a new and innovative way to shop for, purchase, and have your favorite products delivered with zero packaging waste. In doing so, Loop is solving one of the largest environmental crises facing the planet. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that nearly 30% of all consumer waste in the United States is composed of plastics and packaging materials. Furthermore, only 9% of packaging materials are actually recycled, meaning that eliminating the initial creation of waste is a much more effective and efficient way to eliminate this issue. Given the advent of internet shopping in the age of COVID, online orders are skyrocketing. E-commerce spending has increased 56% since the advent of COVID, meaning that packaging waste, and the necessity of Loop’s services, are on the rise as well.
The Loop tote packaging is constructed from a synthetic blend of alloys, glass, and engineered plastics. Obviously the composition of recycled versus new materials can significantly sway the impact of the box. However, I do want to give the benefit of the doubt to a company that is entirely based on creating a circular economy and eliminating waste. Furthermore, Loop states that every product has an “end-of-life” solution with Terracycle, which give me a strong impression that Loop is considering recycling both in the manufacturing stage and for the product after it has exhausted its usability.
Loop’s reusable packages are actually totes. I almost think of them like the warming boxes that pizzas are delivered in. They seem to be made of a similar synthetic material that can hold up to repeated uses and is also easy to sanitize to ensure that germs and other residues are not carried for multiple trips. The totes are made from a synthetic made of “alloys, glass, and engineered plastics” according to Terracycle. There is not available information about the production of Loop’s boxes, which could yield interesting results regarding the amount of recycled materials used in construction, as well as the energy-intensiveness of the process. Given that the tote is designed for hundreds of uses, I believe that the material waste savings definitely outweigh a larger carbon footprint from the production versus a cardboard box. However, I am interested in discovering if information is scarce regarding the Loop tote’s production due to a lack of interest or demand, or if a more environmentally destructive process is potentially lurking in the background.
Loop is a start-up company that has been acquired by Terracycle, one of the most prominent companies that focuses on developing unique recycling solutions for nearly any material. Terracycle aims to “eliminate the idea of waste” through developing “proprietary recycling methodologies” for nearly any product imaginable. Both Loop and Terracycle are companies that are passionate about protecting the environment while also recognizing that humans do consume products and create waste. I believe that their goals are very achievable and very effective because they operate within the constraints of daily human life and consumption patterns. Loop specifically is interested in the idea of the “circular economy”, where resources are created, used, and instead of being thrown away, are then reused over and over, thus creating the “circle.” Although Loop is still in its initial stages and is yet to launch on a global scale, pilot programs with large companies such as Coca-Cola and Proctor & Gamble have delivered promising results.
In addition to Terracycle’s innovative recycling streams and Loop’s desire to achieve a circular economy, they both pride themselves on having a fantastic work culture. I have spoken to several employees in informational interviews who have all attested to the strong mentorship they have received, as well as an entrepreneurial culture that values employee input and encourages them to innovate.