FMCG giants to collect their own packaging waste

Photo: P&G

Big names such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Carrefour have started a trial project of collecting empty packaging at their consumers' homes for re-use. They want to reduce waste and create a circular working system.


Like the milkman of old

Some of the biggest multinationals in distribution and FCMG are starting up a trial project this year, fittingly named Loop. In March, the project will be launched in Paris and then in May it will be rolled out in New York. Cities in Canada, Japan, the UK and the US are to follow within 2019. This was announced by the collective at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The concept comes from recycling company Terracycle and invites comparisons to the milkman of old, who would bring milk to people's homes in glass bottles and then pick the bottles up when they were empty. Similarly, consumers will be able to order groceries on a common online platform. The items are then delivered in a cooling bag. Afterwards, the empty containers will be taken along for re-use at the next delivery. For that last mile, Terracycle intends to make use of the mail services.


Häagen-Dazs in steel bucket

To make re-use possible, the participating companies (also including PepsiCo and Tesco) will be using modified containers. Häagen-Dazs, for example, has developed a steel bucket in which to have its ice cream delivered in New York. PepsiCo will be supplying glass Tropicana bottles and steel boxes for Quaker muesli.

Procter & Gamble – the first to join the project – has created aluminium bottles for Pantene shampoo as well as manual toothbrushes that are similar to their electric counterparts in that they have replaceable heads. The used brush can be taken along by Loop to be recycled. The same goes for used diapers and sanitary pads. Customers will have to pay a deposit for the sustainable containers they receive.


"The time to act is now"

“The time to act is now. We're committed to using the power of our worldwide reach and the strength of our familiar global brands to lift sustainable solutions to a higher level. Transformative collaborations are the key to this mission's success, because no one can do it on their own," says P&G vice-president Virginie Helias.

Companies find themselves forced to innovate and come up with more sustainable solutions as disposable plastic is increasingly being outlawed. The EU has made plastic that can only be used once illegal, but the UK also has big plans to reduce plastic waste and in France, a law on circular economy is in the works.