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A deep dive into reusable packaging solutions

Here are 3 companies that are pioneers in creating successful reusable packaging models, whether it be at-home models or on-the-go solutions.

Loop is an initiative from TerraCycle with a vision is to stop the use of linear, single-use packaging and create a circular economy by reusing containers and other receptacles, where consumers receive their trusted brands in durable and reusable packaging.

With the first pilot having started in May 2019, Loop has grown rapidly through partnerships with brands across the globe like Kroger and Walgreens in the United States, Tesco in Great Britain, Carrefour in France, Aeon in Japan, Woolworths in Australia, and Loblaws in Canada.

The Ozzi group is revolutionizing the way we consume our to-go food. Utilizing technology and driven by a sustainable mindset, Ozzi is set to eliminate the disposable containers used for “to-go” food in all segments and has partnered with a larger number of colleges and universities as well as healthcare centers, supermarket food courts, restaurants, the military, and outdoor events.

A deep dive into reusable packaging solutions

Wherever food is served in paper, foam, or plastic containers, Ozzi is replacing the disposable containers with reusable containers. The system uses an Ozzi smart drop-off station and reusable food containers that can be used as part of a meal plan or by buying a token. Food is served in a clean, reusable Ozzi container at the counter and is placed in the Ozzi machine to be cleaned after use. The machine then returns the token to be used for the next meal.

The startup Returnity is set to revolutionize shipping and packaging by offering custom-designed bags and packages that can be returned and reused multiple times. Returnity claims their packages are water-resistant, more durable than cardboard, and cost-efficient. From tote bags to duffle bags to makeup bags, they can provide customized solutions for the fabric type, pattern, and imprinting.

Recently, the company partnered with antimicrobial solution developer Polygiene to provide custom packaging coated with antimicrobial ViralOff solution to address current COVID-19-related concerns. Returnity is looking to replace the use of over 6 million cardboard boxes and poly mailer bags with reusable packaging by 2020.

The company was recently named a winner in the Circular Economy Track of the Ocean Plastic Innovation Challenge. Returnity’s customers include thredUP, Generation Tux, BOXED, REBAG, and many others. The company is currently working with several prominent brands in apparel, furniture, and even wine.

A deep dive into reusable packaging solutions

What are the bottlenecks to the wider adoption of reusable solutions?

Cost and return logistics remain the two major bottlenecks preventing the implementation of reusable packaging across industries. However, for each of these challenges, companies are stepping up to provide an innovative way to overcome them.

Because most financial benefits of reusable packaging come from avoided production, the rate at which a package is replaced is a key element. Savings are not seen immediately, but in the long run. To ensure that the packaging lasts for multiple rounds of product deliveries, it should be durable and made of materials that are more expensive than cheap plastic. This is definitely a concern across industries and stands as a major impediment to adopting other alternatives that can be reused.

However, companies can mitigate this higher packaging material cost by finding innovative ways to sell their products at a lower price point. Blueland, a privately held New York-based startup, has successfully used this approach to lower costs.

Co-founded by a new mom who set out to create a clean home while keeping the planet clean, Blueland recognized that cleaning liquids are 95% water and came up with the idea of selling replaceable nontoxic cleaning tablets that reduce the size and hence the shipping costs considerably.

The company has further reduced costs by focusing on home cleaning products that are usually associated with low brand loyalty and thus are easier for consumers to adopt. This has allowed them to sell their products at a lower price point. These products can be replenished into the long-lasting 100% BPA-free “Forever Bottles” by dissolving in water. A recent report evaluated Blueland’s products as innovative, sustainable, effective, and affordable. In 2019, the company raised $3 million from Global Founders Capital and won a decent deal from Shark Tank.

With the intent to participate in sustainable packaging, different sectors are still trying to figure out the most efficient way to handle reverse logistics, which will enable them to engage in returnable packaging options. Because companies have to bear the cost of shipping and handling during the return cycle, they need to efficiently work out the logistics behind this in order to support reusable packaging options.

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