Reinventing the milkman: Loop’s reusable packaging model

Loop reusable tote and reusable packaging

Loop is on the attack against packaging waste, and it’s bringing the milkman model back to fight it.

The online shopping platform turns grocery runs into a home delivery service, but it’s much more than that – all products purchased from Loop’s website are packed and delivered in 100% reusable packaging. Once customers used up all the goods, they simply put the empty containers back into the Loop delivery tote and have them picked up from their doorstep. Loop then washes the containers, checks them for quality, and sends them back out filled with fresh new goods. And the cycle repeats.

Loop is the digital-era milkman

Mimicking the waste-free days of the milkman delivery, Loop offers a sustainable solution to grocery shopping that doesn’t ask its customers to make any sacrifices. Just like the good old days when the milkman arrived at your door to collect the empty bottles and replace them with full ones, Loop brings its customers that same convenience of home delivery and added bonus points for sustainability without any of the typical hassle.

This way, Loop is creating a circular packaging system by playing on linear-style consumer action: customers purchase their products online, and when they are finished with them, they toss the containers into the bin as usual. Except the difference is that this bin is not the trash or recycling bin – where the packaging gets wasted or the consumer has to make an effort to properly wash and sort it – the bin is the Loop reuse tote, where all the packaging gets cleaned by the company and sent out again.

Loop logo with arrows showing the closed circular loops its reusable packaging follows
Packaging is Looped again and again, just like the logo depicts, until it eventually retires to be recycled back into itself once it is no longer fit for use.

The result is significantly less materials, water, energy, emissions, and waste involved in the production and distribution of goods for our everyday consumption. By reusing packaging circularly, Loop simultaneously cuts out waste, prevents new resources from being used to produce new packaging, and circumvents the energy required to recycle packaging, making it an incredibly resource-efficient business model.

Happy people, happy planet

Their innovative packaging isn’t just good for the planet, though. Loop’s customers also get to enjoy the unique benefits that high-quality and expertly designed packaging brings, such as countertop-worthy aesthetics and distinctive functionalities. While disposable design focuses on making things as cheap as possible, durable design focuses on making the packaging last as long as possible, which allows designers to tap into previously unviable materials, functions, and designs.

Their web store features beautiful packages made from a range of materials including aluminium, stainless steel, glass, and sturdy engineered plastic. Features such as double-walled insulated containers to keep ice cream cold without the tub feeling chilly to the touch are also made possible through durable design.

Loop's reusable packaging for ice cream
Because they design for durability, not price, Loop’s packaging is beautifully timeless with bonus functionalities.
Image: Loop

In an age where single-use packaging waste and the take-make-waste philosophy of consumption has taken over our daily lives, we need to counter the unparalleled convenience and affordability of wasteful consumerism by making the sustainable option the easy option. By augmenting reusable packaging into a circular home delivery and return system, Loop has managed to do exactly that.

Hopefully, the future of how we consume is a future in which circular shopping is the only viable option, allowing us to do our sustainable shopping habitually and unconsciously.

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If circular business models interest you, here are five other companies with unique circular economy projects.

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