IN THE LOOP
Trenton’s own Terracycle pushing to make reusable containers the next big thing in environmentalism >>
It’s been a long time since the “Trenton Makes, the World Takes” motto has meant much around these parts.
But if the folks at Loop pull off what they’re attempting, then it’s fair to say the motto will mean more than ever. In fact, it would be ripe for an update, something along the lines of “Trenton Makes, the World Takes and Takes and Takes Again, in Fact They’ll Keep Taking Because That’s How We Buy Stuff Nowadays and Wow Can You Believe a Trenton Company is Responsible for Waste Free Packaging and More or Less Saving the Planet?”
OK, fine, that’s a mouthful and probably needs some light edits, but the fact remains: Loop, which is owned by Terracycle and housed in the Terracycle offices in Trenton, has gone back in time to create waste free packaging.
Think back to the old days, when the milkman dropped off your moo juice. This was before my time, but I get the idea: He’d drop off the bottles, you’d drink the milk, he’d pick up the bottles and give you more milk.
Well, Loop is proposing to the same thing. For milk, sure. And ice cream. And toothpaste. And peanut butter. And garbage bags. And tin foil. And virtually every last kitchen, bath, and household item you can think of.
And this isn’t some back-of-the-envelope scheme; already, Loop has signed up Nestle, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, and dozens more companies, large and small, to get this party started. In the coming months, even more companies will announce plans to partner with Loop. You’ll be able to order direct from LoopStore.com, UPS will serve as the “milkman,” and within a few years, you’ll also be able to buy the products in stores.
The phrase “game changer” gets tossed about a lot, but this one feels awfully game-changey.
“We’re stopping and thinking and saying that even if 100 percent of products and packaging were recyclable, and even if 100 percent of products are made from recycled content, is that still the best?” said Anthony Rossi, the vice-president of Global Business Development at Loop. “Two years ago Tom (Szaky, Terracycle founder and CEO) got to thinking and said ‘no, we can’t stop there.’ One, it’s utopian. I don’t think we’ll ever get close to that number, but two the real problem here is disposability. And so we’re attacking disposability by working with partners to reengineer their packaging to be durable and reusable while providing infrastructure to get products to consumers and back.”
The plan is pretty dang simple. You order you products, from Axe deodorant to Haagen-Dazs ice cream. It’s delivered, via UPS, in a Loop tote. When you’re done with your package, you put it back in the tote and leave on your doorstep. And that’s pretty much that. Instead of throwing away the packaging, you simply toss it in the tote. Couldn’t be easier.
“People try their best when they can, but when it’s convenience vs. sustainably, convenience wins,” Rossi noted.
He’s right. I mean, I want to recycle, but … well, I don’t feel like going outside to toss the stuff in the can when my kitchen garbage is right here. But Loop negates that issue.
“We want people to be able to live their life in Loop and have the opportunity to live a waste free life. We want to be that utopian, we want to be that far-reaching,” Rossi said. “In 50 years time, our goal and this is super utopian - but we want our kids, our grandkids to look back at this period at human history and say, ‘what the hell were they doing?’ We want the idea of waste and disposability to be a blip. We want Loop to be the norm. Wherever products are being sold and consumed, we want those products to be in durable containers.”
It’s going to happen. It’s the most obvious, easy answer. And when it does, and when Loop becomes the norm, always remember: It was born right here in Trenton.
How about, “Trenton Reduces, the World Reuses?” Getting warmer, right?
Waste-free packaging, as designed by Loop, part of Trenton’s Terracycle.