The future of plastic

It is estimated that about 91 percent of all plastic waste has never been recycled,

“Reduce, reuse and recycle” has become a famous campaign slogan for environmental action across the U.S. However, it is estimated that about 91 percent of all plastic waste has never been recycled, according to CNN.

Tom Szaky, CEO of TerraCycle, a waste management company, is hoping to change that statistic with a project known as Loop, announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Szaky asked companies to think differently about who owns their packaging. Today, companies sell consumers both the product and the package it comes in. Ultimately, it’s up to the customer — and also the municipality where they live — whether an empty bottle gets recycled or tossed in a landfill. Under the current system, the fate of the bottle is out of the manufacturer’s hands, so companies aim to produce the cheapest possible packages, Szaky said.

But what if, instead, the manufacturer retained ownership of the bottle by collecting and reusing it?

Szaky went to the companies whose names were featured on the Greenpeace list of the world’s worst plastic polluters, and pitched them his new recycling idea, called Loop. Loop is being branded as a new way to shop, offering about 300 items — from Tide detergent to Pantene shampoo, Häagen-Dazs ice cream to Crest mouthwash — all in reusable packaging. After using the products, customers put the empty containers in a Loop tote on their doorstep. The containers are then picked up by a delivery service, cleaned and refilled, and shipped out to consumers again, according to CNN.

“I don’t have to rub this in their face,” Szaky said to CNN, because the companies are “painfully” aware of their reputations.

Now, eight of the 10 companies mentioned in the Greenpeace report are Loop partners.

To read the full CNN report, click here.