A new global initiative that aims to cut down the amount of waste generated by packaging is being supported by about 25 consumer goods companies, including Nestlé, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and Unilever.

Called Loop, the durable packaging program differs from conventional recycling schemes in that it encourages brands to develop, and consumers to use, containers that can be used again and again.

With grocery packaging responsible for more waste than plastic bags and straws, Bloomberg reported that the initiative effectively recalls the days of the traditional milkman.

It means that consumers will be able to receive popular products in reusable containers from participating companies that they can order online, or purchase in-store, and then return to the company when finished.

Terracycle, a recycling firm based in New Jersey, is spearheading the effort and its founder, Tom Szaky, said: “We can’t recycle or clean our way out of this. We have to stop the waste from entering the system to begin with.”

Loop, which was unveiled at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, will start operating by mid-May in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in the US, as well as in Paris via Carrefour, the French retail giant.

Terracycle is also finalising arrangements in other parts of the US and Toronto in Canada, and a distribution deal with UK supermarket chain Tesco is expected later this year.

A number of leading FMCG brands have already developed durable containers for the scheme – and in many cases, they include elegant aluminium canisters.

Nestlé, for example, has designed a double-walled aluminium jar for its Häagen-Dazs ice cream brand that actually keeps the product colder than waxed-cardboard disposable packaging.

PepsiCo is also taking part and its president of global snacks, Simon Lowden, said of the initiative: “We are looking to help build a world where plastics need never become waste. Trials like this help us evaluate the future potential for reusable models and our ability to scale initiatives.”

Sourced from Bloomberg; additional content by WARC staff