Reusable is closing loops. Carrefour stores now with Loop system

Reusable is closing loops. Carrefour stores now with Loop system

Thomas Reiner | 21.04.2021

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.

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Monomaterial today, recyclate tomorrow? Procter & Gamble introduces recyclable HDPE tubes

Monomaterial today, recyclate tomorrow? Procter & Gamble introduces recyclable HDPE tubes

Thomas Reiner | 16.04.2021

The U.S. consumer goods giant has been switching the packaging for its toothpastes to recyclable monomaterial HDPE tubes since the beginning of the year. The example shows how brand owners are meeting their sustainability commitments. When big players like P&G move in this direction, it has an impact on the entire segment. The next logical step is to use recyclates.


US consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble began switching to recyclable monomaterial HDPE tubes at the beginning of the year. For this, the company is relying on Greenleaf Generation 2 tubes from Albéa. P&G, with its Crest, Oral-B and Blend-a-med brands, and is the first to do so. The complete transition in the U.S. and European markets will be phased in by 2025.

The new solution will help P&G reach its goal of making all packaging 100 percent recyclable or reusable by 2030. The move is a good example of how brand owners are implementing their self-imposed sustainability commitments. The use of mono-materials is a key component of this.

Colgate and P&G represent much of the U.S. market. When heavyweights of this size convert, they are effectively converting an entire segment.

And the big players will continue to set the pace. The use of monomaterials is only one component of the sustainability strategy. The use of recyclate is the next, logical step.


Certified and proven HDPE solution

For its new monomaterial packaging, P&G uses Albéa’s Greenleaf Generation 2 tubes. The tubes are recognized by the North American Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) and the RecyClass platform initiated by Plastics Recyclers Europe. They also have the SUEZ.circpack certificate. The packaging can therefore be recycled within the existing recycling stream for HDPE bottles.

For APR recognition, Albéa had to demonstrate in practice that its toothpaste tubes can be converted into high-quality post-consumer DPE granules and that the granules can subsequently be used to make new plastic bottles or tubes. This should ensure that the tubes can indeed be recycled without downcycling wherever appropriate collection systems are active.


Recyclate ante portas?

Branded companies like P&G will not stop at improved recyclability through the use of monomaterials. The pressure of proclaimed and stipulated sustainability obligations will ensure that further steps are taken. The use of recyclates seems to be the next logical step.

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39% less CO2: Climate is central subject of circular economy.

39% less CO2: Climate is central subject of circular economy.

Thomas Reiner | 09.04.2021

Circular economy strategies can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 39%. That’s according to a recent report by the impact organization Circle Economy. The causal link between the circular economy and climate protection is clearly evident. This will have an impact on upcoming regulations. Circular economy is more than recycling. We must anchor the climate issue as a central component in our strategies.


Circular economy strategies can be an effective tool for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. A recent report by the impact organization Circle Economy in January 2021 put the potential to reduce CO2 emissions at 39 percent.

The report’s findings reinforce and highlight the positive link between the circular economy and climate change mitigation. This will be a signal to legislators. We can look forward to further and far-reaching legislation to expand and optimize the circular economy. In the EU’s Green Deal, the circular economy is already anchored as a top priority.

Learning for industry: Circular economy is more than recycling – and recyclability alone will not be enough. We need to broaden our focus and include the issue of emissions. Circular economy and climate protection go hand in hand.

Key facts from the report

Circle Economy’s report, titled Circularity Gap Report 2021, states:

  • More than 100 billion tons (Gt) of material is consumed by global society each year. Only 8.6 percent of that is reused!
  • Climate emissions from new product manufacturing reached a record high of 59.1 Gt in 2019. According to the 2020 UN Emissions Gap Report, these emissions must decrease by 15 Gt by 2030 to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. To reach the safe limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius, reductions of 32 Gt are needed.
  • At 41.37 Gt, 70% of all climate emissions come from the extraction, processing and remanufacturing of our goods and products – from clothing to phones to food.
  • 22.8 Gt of these could be eliminated through the use of circular strategies, dramatically reducing the consumption of resources such as minerals, fossil fuels, metals and biomass.

Circular economy and climate change mitigation correlate

Circular economy is emerging as a powerful tool for climate action. This will be reflected in policy and legislation. Circular economy is not monothematic and recycling is not everything. It is time for industry to make climate protection an integral and central part of their circular strategies.

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Substitution of plastic with paper: tokenism or a clear movement in the market?

Image source: Nestlé

Substitution of plastic with paper: tokenism or a clear movement in the market?

Thomas Reiner | 01.04.2021

The trend to substitute plastic with paper is picking up steam. The movement is not tokenism, but evidence of a clear strategy. For Nestlé, Smarties in paper are just the first step. Other brands in the portfolio will follow – just like the market as a whole. But the second arrow in Nestlé’s quiver is also interesting: investment in a circular economy for plastics.


FMCG giant Nestlé is now packaging its Smarties in paper. The colorful chocolate bits are just the first step. Other brands in the portfolio will follow. The substitution of plastic with paper is not tokenism, but a conscious sustainability strategy. The new Smarties packaging is an example of a clear shift in the entire market. Other brand manufacturers are moving in the same direction. It is interesting to note that Nestlé is at the same time investing massively in the circular economy for plastics.

Details of the switch to paper
According to Nestlé’s own information, the switch to paper packaging is costing the company around ten million euros. The production changeover affects the only European Smarties plant in Hamburg. From there, more than 50 countries worldwide are supplied. According to the company, the fibers for the packaging come from responsible cultivation. Consumers can dispose of the empty packaging via the waste paper cycle. In total, the conversion saves more than 191 tons of plastic annually.

The big sustainability picture at Nestlé
Smarties is the company’s first global confectionery brand to switch to recyclable paper packaging. But Nestlé says that’s just the beginning. By 2025, the company aims to make all packaging recyclable or reusable. It also aims to use one-third less virgin plastic by the middle of the decade.

Investing in the circular economy for plastics
Substituting paper with plastic is not the only arrow in Nestlé’s sustainability quiver. The company is simultaneously focusing on the “development of environmentally friendly packaging materials” and on “the further development of well-functioning collection, sorting and recycling systems.” Nestlé says it will invest two billion Swiss francs in a “circular economy for plastics” to achieve this.

The world is turning towards paper
The dominance of paper as a packaging material has become a clear movement in the market. It is a movement that is only just beginning. Parallel efforts to create a functioning plastics circular economy indicate that plastic substitution is not locked in for eternity. For now, however, the die is cast.

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Circular economy = lifeline in the commodity market?

Circular economy = lifeline in the commodity market?

Thomas Reiner | 23.03.2021

Our recent survey of 270 packaging industry executives shows that 3 out of 4 plastic packaging manufacturers are struggling with commoditization in the market. With the increasing importance of the Circular Economy, there are immense opportunities for these companies to differentiate and grow. However, reactive solutions from within the operating business are not enough to achieve this. It takes foresight – and quick action.


The market for plastic packaging is increasingly becoming a commodity market. The perceived added value of the products hardly differs anymore. As a result, everything boils down to price. Our recent survey of 270 packaging industry executives confirms this impression. 3 out of 4 plastic packaging manufacturers are struggling with commoditization.

At the same time, 79 percent recognize the Circular Economy issue as an opportunity. This is good news, because the overriding importance of the circular economy for the industry is undisputed. Especially the increasing pressure from regulations under the EU’s Green Deal leaves no doubt about this. Without a sustainability strategy and a circular portfolio, it will soon be impossible to do business.

It is astonishing that the realization has hardly been followed by action so far. The majority of plastic packaging manufacturers have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to circular economy. Most of them try to find solutions reactively from within their operating business. However, this approach is not very promising. What is needed are far-sighted and far-reaching answers based on a valid sustainability strategy.
Those who recognize this, act accordingly and lose no time in doing so have great opportunities to differentiate themselves in the market and grow. There is a lot of pent-up demand in the industry – and the slice of the pie that is still up for grabs is correspondingly large.

The B+P Consultants market survey
The survey of 270 packaging industry executives conducted by B+P Consultants in October 2020 took the pulse of plastic packaging manufacturers. Key findings of the self-assessment:

– 78% see cost pressure as the biggest challenge to existing business.
– 75 % look with concern at competitive pressure.
– These figures manifest classic symptoms of companies in a commodity market. More than three quarters of the companies are thus in growing difficulties – and beyond that in a growth squeeze.

Circular Economy
– 79 % see the Circular Economy as an opportunity for their company
– 12 % have a corresponding strategy to exploit the opportunities
– The gap between knowledge and action is startling. As promising as the knowledge of the opportunities is, the paralysis that has afflicted many companies is striking.

Getting out of the commodity squeeze
The disruptive change brought about by the Circular Economy offers great opportunities for differentiation and growth. The industry’s need to catch up on the topic of the circular economy is enormous. The opportunities are correspondingly large.
It is of crucial importance that the course is set far-sightedly. Far-reaching answers are needed at product level. Reactive patchwork as part of the operating business will not lead to success. And it requires a fundamental, valid sustainability strategy at the corporate level.

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