Carrefour wants to offer its supermarket customers an “experience without waste.” To this end, the Loop reusable system is being brought from the online world to the world of the shelves for the first time. An app-based deposit system and in-store return stations makes it possible to use refillable, reusable packaging for a range of everyday brands. Reuse is circularity at its best. Carrefour’s “Early Bird” will be followed by many.
International retail and wholesale giant Carrefour is expanding its cooperation with “reusable” recycling company Loop. Previously limited to its online business, the French company is now gradually opening more supermarkets to the system with refillable and reusable packaging under the motto “Experience without waste.” Carrefour is the first retailer to bring Loop’s reusable solution to its shelves.
Approaches to reusing packaging are still fairly new and rare. But the example shows how it can be done. Carrefour’s “Early Bird” will be followed by many other retailers. The sustainability arguments of reuse are too tempting, keeping plastic in the cycle and thus radically and automatically reducing new expenditure.
The “experience without waste”
As part of its collaboration with Loop, Carrefour offers products ranging from glass yogurt pots to dishwasher tablets in aluminum containers. A range of products from well-known and everyday brands such as Nivea, Coca-Cola, Danone, Evian, Puget, Nutella, Chocapic, Ricoré and Maison Verte in refillable packaging.
Since early 2021, Loop-packaged products have been available in 10 supermarkets, including Carrefour stores in the Paris area. Using the learnings from these pilot stores, the company plans to gradually expand its initiative this year.
How the reusable system works
Consumers buy the products in reusable, tamper-evident packaging. After consumption, they bring the empty packaging back to the store, where they return it to a special collection area or directly to the checkout. The collection of the returned packaging and the refund of the deposit are controlled by a mobile application.
Loop organizes the collection, sorting and cleaning of the returned reusable packaging from the store. The cleaned containers are transported back to the store for refilling, where they end up on the shelves again when filled. Each package can be reused several times.
The Early Bird points the way
Retailers are in a great position to be able to drive such initiatives. It’s good that Carrefour is taking advantage of this opportunity. Reusable models are still the exception in supermarkets. But they will not remain exotic – on the contrary. Because reused packaging offers a sustainability advantage that is as trivial as it is great: it limits the amount of plastic used by keeping the material as a product in the cycle – without the detour via recycling.