The next time you reach into your freezer for a pint of Haagen Dazs Amaretto Black Cherry Almond ice cream, or perhaps grab a bottle of Pantene Moisture Renewal shampoo, you might be putting your hands on something unusual in the world of consumer goods — a reusable container.

More than 150 companies have signed up to work with Loop, an innovative alternative to Amazon where the products ± as well as the box they arrive in — are all shipped back to where they came from. 

We are talking reusable here, not recyclable. The cold container for ice cream, as well as the shampoo bottle, are made of durable products and designed to be returned, cleaned and reused dozens, if not hundreds of times.  

Loop is the brainchild of entrepreneur Tom Szaky, who created TerraCycle as a Princeton drop out to recycle the food waste from the university dining halls into fertilizer — using worms. His company is now worth $20 million, and he’s branching out.

Customers order their products online from a list of name brand items, all delivered via UPS in a sturdy tote. The empties go back into the tote, which UPS takes back to Loop’s New Jersey processing center. They are cleaned and refilled by the suppliers to be shipped out by Loop again. Even though consumers are buying just the contents, the products cost about the same as those sold in single-use containers — in part to offset the cost of the development and manufacturing of the more durable containers, as well as cleaning and refilling.

Although the selection is limited compared to Amazon, there is still an array of well-known staples to fill up the pantry: Hellman’s mayo; Tropicana orange juice; Colgate toothpaste; Hidden Valley ranch dressing; Tide detergent, among many others — courtesy of some of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, including Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Danone, Mars Petcare and Mondelēz International. 

Currently, Loop has about 25,000 customers in its test markets in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland and Washington, D.C., in the United States, and in Paris, France. But they are in the process of expanding across the United States and internationally, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Japan.

Watch how Szaky says he plans to grow his business into a juggernaut. Loop just recently announced it was partnering with Walgreens and Kroger to start offering its products in stores. So you can perhaps pick up that pint of that Amaretto Black Cherry Almond ice cream and return the container the very next day.

 

Some video imagery courtesy of UPS and Loop.

Published on Jan 13, 2020