It’s been nine months since the startup Loop, brainchild of TerraCycle founder and CEO Tom Szaky, took the world by storm with its zero-waste circular delivery service. If you’re like us at TriplePundit, you’re probably wondering how it is doing as it nears the one-year mark.
While the company does not disclose its total number of subscribers, Szaky gave a candid update at last week’s Bloomberg Sustainable Business Summit in New York.
First announced at the World Economic Forum in January, Loop made its initial start with pilots in metro New York and Paris. Ever since, Szaky says, business has been quickly growing.
Today, Loop is available in select areas in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland and Washington, D.C. It is in the process of expanding throughout the United States, as well as the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Japan, Szaky said. And with comments such as “When is Loop coming to Illinois….I can’t wait!” sprinkled across Loop’s Instagram account, it seems expansion can’t come soon enough for many.
Loop’s value proposition is enabling the consumer “to responsibly consume a variety of commonly used products from leading consumer brands in customized, brand-specific durable packaging delivered in a specially designed reusable shipping tote.” When finished with the product, the packaging is collected, cleaned, refilled and reused. There are no monthly membership fees or subscriptions, although customers do pay a refundable one-time deposit to borrow the reusable container.
“Loop will not just eliminate the idea of packaging waste, but greatly improve the product experience and shopping convenience,” Szaky said at the launch.
The initial coalition included 28 partners such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, PepsiCo, Mondelez International, Nestlé, Danone and UPS. Today, the list has grown to 42 partners selling brands such as Häagen-Dazs, Tide, Tropicana and Colgate.
Essential to Loop’s success is its ability to offer consumers the same choice they would find in brick-and-mortar retail stores, and the Loop management team knew that quickly scaling up offerings was key. According to Szaky, Loop is now adding approximately one new brand per day.
The brands themselves seem to be having fun with new packaging design, such as Procter & Gamble, whose ProPantene shampoo and conditioner containers are emblazoned with “I Reuse….I Love the Oceans.”
While the products do come shipped in reusable Loop containers, critics on social media have pointed out that some of the products that Loop sells—including detergent pods and wipes—contain plastic that is not recyclable. But it turns out that this may not be relevant to the majority of Loop consumers: Only a third of Loop subscribers joined the service based on sustainability concerns, Szaky said; the majority claim to have joined because of the model itself, including its convenience, something that even Szaky found surprising—and, it seems, a little frustrating given his zero-waste zeal.
To date, the company says beverages in glass bottles such as Evian and Tropicana have been among the top-selling products among Loop subscribers in France. In the United States, top sellers include Clorox wipes, Cascade dishwasher detergent tabs, Pantene shampoo and Häagen-Dazs ice cream.
Another interesting learning that Szaky shared was that while Loop customers want similar prices for products they would buy in traditional stores, they have not been price sensitive to the deposit fees.
“It’s exciting that consumers are willing to temporarily invest in the reusable containers,” he remarked. While temporary, the cost of the containers, in some cases, are not inexpensive. Take two of the top-selling products: The container for Clorox Wipes requires a $10 deposit, while the deposit for the Häagen-Dazs ice cream container is $5.
Only time will tell if the model will continue to be successful, especially as more and more companies, from Unilever to Nestlé, pledge to reduce their use of plastic packaging in the next 10 to 20 years. For now, however, this service seems to be a model in high demand.
Image credit: Loop/Facebook
Maggie Kohn is excited to be a contributor to Triple Pundit to illustrate how business can achieve positive change in the world while supporting long-term growth. Maggie worked for more than 20 years at the biopharma giant Merck & Co., Inc., leading corporate responsibility and social business initiatives. She currently writes, speaks and consults on corporate responsibility and social impact when she is not busy fostering kittens for her local animal shelter. Click here to learn more.