5 key learnings from Closed Loop Partners’ reusable packaging pilots

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Achieving a waste-free world will require us all to get more comfortable with experimentation. The status quo of today’s linear take-make-waste economy, which relies on a false premise of unlimited natural resources, is untenable. And as we explore more circular alternatives, we must rethink every aspect of how we operate.

At Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy, our first foray into experimentation was to bring together  McDonald’s and Starbucks to address a shared challenge: cup waste. This came to life in our NextGen Consortium, which aims to redesign foodservice packaging, with a focus on the fiber to-go cup. Following this, in 2020, we convened competitors CVS Health, Target and Walmart, in our Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag, to identify, test and implement alternative solutions to the pesky single-use plastic bag.

Across both Consortia, we’ve sourced hundreds of innovative solutions to packaging waste, ultimately identifying 12 NextGen Cup Challenge winners and nine Beyond the Bag Challenge winners. Now, we’re in the midst of testing and piloting sustainable solutions, knowing that we need to iron out any kinks before scale. In partnership with IDEO, in 2020 we piloted two reusable cup solutions in the Bay Area in local cafes, and in 2021, we experimented with first-of-a-kind multi-retailer pilots of reusable bag solutions across Walmart, Target and CVS Health stores. From these pilots, we’ve identified five key learnings that can help inform how brands and retailers implement reuse systems within their own businesses.

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