Kroger is expanding its sustainability efforts thanks to its partnership with circular packaging firm Loop. Earlier this year, Kroger announced the launch of an assortment of reusable products in select U.S. stores via Loop. Spanning Kroger's private label brands as well as other major food and household brands, the move marks an important expansion in the grocery retailer's larger sustainability efforts.
Developed by circular reuse platform TerraCycle, Loop recovers and sanitizes reusable packaging for recirculation with new products. Subscribers pay a deposit ranging from 15 cents for a glass beverage bottle to $10 for a stainless steel container of disinfecting wipes.
Participating manufacturers introduce products that employ reusable packaging. These products are placed in a designated Loop section of participating retail establishments, which serve as the collection site for end users to return the packaging when the contents are consumed.
In 2021, Loop announced that its global subscriber network had grown from about a dozen participating companies worldwide in 2020 to 150 in 2022. In addition to Kroger, both independent brands and other major packaging end users including Nestle are expanding their reusable packaging options for their part in the program.
While reuse systems are well established for packaging products such as pallets and drums that are typically handled by nonconsumer end users, reusable packaging is of increasing interest in consumer markets as well due to the potential sustainability benefits. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, converting 20% of global plastic packaging into reusable packaging represents a $10 billion business opportunity, the company said.
When end users reuse the packaging as intended, these items are less likely to enter solid waste streams — whether recycling or composting facilities, or the landfill — thereby reducing the total volume of packaging waste.
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In addition, recirculated packaging reduces the overall material requirements of packaging production as fewer new products are needed.
Though currently most utilized in food and beverage applications, reusable packaging also is seeing increased use in personal care and household items, as well as in e-commerce. For instance, in 2021, major shipping concerns including FedEx Express, InPost and MODIVO introduced reusable e-commerce packaging solutions across multiple European markets that could translate to the U.S. market.
However, further investment in circular infrastructure will be necessary to expanding adoption of reusable packaging, Loop said.