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Tesco terminates partnership with TerraCycle’s Loop platform

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Tesco terminates partnership with TerraCycle’s Loop platform

Tesco has stopped selling products housed in reusable packaging managed by TerraCycle’s Loop platform after they were available to online shoppers for 12 months and in selected stores for nine months. - PackagingInsights

Tesco’s responsible sourcing director Giles Bolton posted a blog providing more information on the end of the trial and on the retailer’s next steps. 

The blog states that “while the potential [for reusable packaging] is huge – and we should all be excited about a solution where packaging can be used and reused in a circular system – the implementation challenge is equally significant,” particularly amid events as disruptive as to supply chains and consumer habits COVID-19 lockdowns.

Reworking refillable packaging

Giles reveals that customers purchased more than 80,000 Loop products through Tesco, with the system proving valuable for engaging a fraction of customers. 

But there’s still much more to do. Specifically, work is needed to encourage a cultural and behavioral shift from customers. Reuse represents a radical change in the shopping experience and while customers support the environmental principle, industry, policymakers and supply chains will need to work hard and work collectively to support and incentivise customers to adopt new shopping behaviors, while ensuring they don’t come at a cost to shoppers.

Refillable packaging at Tesco.However, he continues by saying

After more than two years of collaboration, Giles confirmed that Tesco will now need to rethink its approach to refillable packaging through Loop before confirming its next steps. 

Giles writes that Tesco found the “pre-fill” model – where customers do not fill containers in store but rather pick up already filled containers – was more successful.

Loop has already engaged with multiple consumer product companies, both large and small, including Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Coca-Cola, Danone, Nivea and Persil. Customers pay a deposit fee on each piece of packaging that is refunded to them when they return the containers. Returned containers are funneled through a reverse logistics system operated by DPD, DHL and TerraCycle, ready for refill – or recycling at the end of their life.

The Loop project was launched in 2019 amid a drive to slash material usage and related carbon emissions. In July 2020, the zero waste e-commerce platform initiated Phase Two of its pilot process with Tesco. Loop products were then made available in stores in September 2021.

TerraCycle schemes ending

In March, PepsiCo chip brand Walkers ended its UK recycling scheme with TerraCycle. The waste management company launched the scheme in 2018 and collected millions of waste chip packets. However, industry experts have criticized the scheme for putting the onus on consumers to meticulously separate trash with no evidence of recycling success ever being made public. 

When the scheme started, there were very limited options for recycling crisp packets. After three years, there are more than 3,500 flexible plastic collection points in supermarkets across the UK.

PepsiCo maintained that its decision to end the scheme was solely due to advances in flexible plastic recycling infrastructure, saying

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