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Largest US grocery store chain pioneers zero-waste shopping program: 'Another big step'

Offering a reuse program for packaging is a profound leap in the right direction to reduce waste.

Kroger and Loop team up to bring zero-waste shopping mainstream

Photo Credit: iStock

The COVID-19 pandemic derailed numerous efforts to reduce our reliance on single-use packaging. 

Nearly two and a half years in, waste reduction efforts seem to be back on track, and conducting this train is the largest grocery store company in the U.S., Kroger.

Loop's reusable packaging

In December 2021, the grocery giant announced its expansion of an online trial with Loop to 25 Kroger-owned Fred Meyer stores in Portland, Oregon. 

Loop is a first-of-its-kind circular or reusable packaging platform developed by recycling giant TerraCycle that blends convenience for customers with consideration for the Earth. 

Loop provides durable packaging for products that can be returned for cleaning and reuse when more of a product is needed.

This partnership makes Kroger the first grocer in the U.S. to adopt a reusable packaging platform.

Portlanders can now shop the Loop packaging assortment featuring well-known food and household brands. 

Most packaging is either aluminum or glass, and current product examples include barbecue sauce, disinfectant wipes, baby food, tea, granola, dishwasher pods, hand soap, and more. 

When customers check out, they will be charged a deposit for the Loop packaging, averaging $5. When the package is empty, customers can use the Loop app to scan the item, check it into a Loop collection bin, and receive a refund for the packaging deposit. 

The packaging will be thoroughly sanitized and returned to circulation to package another product.

@corygated #PepsiApplePieChallenge would you return packaging? #sustainablepackaging #reducereuserecycle @terracyclehq ♬ FEEL THE GROOVE - Queens Road, Fabian Graetz

Establishing the partnership

This partnership is not the first instance of Kroger making changes to help the planet.

In August 2020, the grocer created its Simple Truth Recycling Program through a partnership with TerraCycle, allowing customers to recycle the flexible plastic packaging of more than 300 different products on Kroger shelves. In April 2021, Kroger expanded its recycling program to include almost 2,500 products

Offering a reuse program for packaging is a profound leap for Kroger in the right direction to reduce waste.

For other grocers to follow, resets in the corporate mindset of disposability are required. 

Today, disposability is built into supply chains, and reusable products would disrupt this. 

But reusable containers are not a new phenomenon –– they return to older models, such as milk being delivered in reusable glass containers. 

We have done it before, and we can do it again.

Kroger loop reduce waste
Photo Credit: Loop

Consumer benefit

Reusable packaging might sound like more work for customers, but reusable can be just as convenient as disposable –– and Kroger's partnership with Loop is proving just that.

The most profound consumer benefit of this Korger and Loop partnership is the ability to reduce waste without making lifestyle changes. 

Previously, the most feasible method of reducing waste was making personal changes, like replacing paper towels with cloths or avoiding products that only come in plastic packaging. 

Although there is nothing wrong with these swaps, they focus on small individual actions rather than encouraging corporations to act more responsibly. 

Reusable Loop packaging at Kroger will allow more customers to do their part in reducing pollution with ease.

"Kroger's commitment to embrace innovation on our path to Zero Hunger | Zero Waste aligns perfectly with Loop's mission to create a convenient circular packaging solution for consumers," said Jessica Adelman, Kroger's group vice president of corporate affairs, in a press release. "We believe in giving our customers sustainable packaging choices they can feel good about. As the founding retailer for Loop in the United States, Kroger is taking another big step toward a world with zero waste."

Offering a reuse program for packaging is a profound leap in the right direction to reduce waste.
Photo Credit: Loop

Benefits for the planet

Reusable packaging reduces the amount of trash sent to landfills and pollutes nature, ultimately benefiting the planet. 

Fewer items enter landfills when reusable packaging is used compared to packaging that is only used once and discarded. 

More air is saved from pollution by reusable packaging. Most single-use packaging is plastic, made from oil, and extracting oil from the earth releases toxins into the air. 

Additionally, incineration is a waste management method that involves burning trash –– plastic releases harmful chemicals in the air when burned. Less air pollution helps the Earth and humans, too.

Packaging that is refillable and reusable helps the planet by conserving resources, like the oil that makes single-use plastic containers and the gas used to transport trash to landfills.

Reusable packaging for grocery items does not disrupt customer lifestyles, yet has a profoundly positive impact on the planet. 

Reusable packaging in stores like Kroger is a sign that we are moving forward to a cleaner and simpler future for us all.

Reusable packaging platform
Photo Credit: Loop

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