Published 2 years ago.
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In the report, Closed Loop Partners, IDEO and the NextGen Consortium share learnings from multiple pilots of reusable coffee cup systems that eliminate
On Thursday, the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop
Partners released a first-of-its-kind
report that offers a roadmap for durable, reusable packaging systems that reduce
the need for single-use packaging.
Bringing Reusable Packaging Systems to
draws on insights from multiple reusable cup pilots conducted in partnership
with the NextGen
and IDEO, outlining key lessons learned and sharing a blueprint and
open-source resource to encourage collaboration and the growth of reuse models.
With plastic waste entering the ocean at a rate of 11 million metric tons a
year, microplastics found atop Mount Everest and even in the food we consume;
consumers, regulators and advocacy groups are increasingly clamoring for change
— and reuse models, which extend the use and lifespan of valuable materials,
offer a promising pathway forward.
“Our findings are unequivocal; it’s no longer a question of if, but when reuse
models will be implemented at scale. It’s both possible and probable,” says
Kate Daly, Managing Director of the Center for the Circular Economy at
Closed Loop Partners. “Reuse models are a critical tool in the fight against
plastic waste, and brands and retailers are increasingly exploring them as a
viable waste-reduction strategy. Reusable packaging and cups are just the
beginning; refill, resale and rental models that keep materials in circulation
are poised to reinvent all kinds of product formats and industries. The future
for reuse is bright, and now we need to work collaboratively toward it.”
The NextGen Consortium — convened by Closed Loop Partners with founding partners
and McDonald’s, among others — aims to address the world’s single-use
food-packaging waste by advancing the design, commercialization and recovery of
packaging alternatives — starting with the hot and cold, to-go fiber cup system.
The Consortium has conducted robust testing, funding and scaling of reusable cup
models; most recently, it ran pilots with NextGen Cup Challenge
CupClub and Muuse, across clusters of local cafes in San Francisco
and Palo Alto, CA.
“In order for reusable packaging systems to be a viable solution, they need to
address the systemic infrastructure challenges,” Marion Gross, Chief Supply
Chain Officer, North America at McDonald’s, says in the report. “The value of
this system’s model lies in its networked approach, which is one of the reasons
we joined the NextGen Consortium. Collaborating to innovate and test solutions
is essential to achieving our ambition of increasing circularity for McDonald’s
packaging and at industry-wide scale.”
Before scaling any system, proof of concept and rigorous testing is essential.
NextGen’s pilots have validated a sustained and methodical approach to iterating
and testing reuse models, revealing critical inputs and considerations for scale
— including engaging diverse stakeholders, making sustainable material choices,
selecting appropriate locations and payment models, and optimizing health and
safety protocols. Ultimately, reuse models can and must provide a seamless,
convenient experience for companies and customers — and are applicable far
beyond just cups.
“With single-use packaging volumes on the rise amidst the
safe and hygienic reuse models are critical to addressing the urgent issue,”
says Erin Simon, Head of Plastic Waste and Business at WWF. “The NextGen
Consortium’s reusable cup pilots are critical for providing the necessary data
and understanding to advance these kinds of models as a whole and reduce
The success of reusable packaging schemes such as TerraCycle’s Loop
— which ships hundreds of household-name food and beverage, household and
personal-care products to consumers’ doors in unique, branded, reusable
packaging; and expanded
last fall — also demonstrates both the market demand and viability for reuse
models at scale. Much like Next Gen Consortium’s pilots of reusable coffee cups
at Starbucks, Loop will partner this year with fast-food giants Burger King,
on reusable packaging solutions in their restaurants.
Published Jan 15, 2021 1pm EST / 10am PST / 6pm GMT / 7pm CET