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A blueprint for reusable packaging systems

A blueprint for reusable packaging systems
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The Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners has released a report titled “Bringing Reusable Packaging Systems to Life.” The New York-based investment firm says the report draws on insights from multiple reusable cup pilots conducted in partnership with the NextGen Consortium and IDEO, outlining lessons learned and sharing a blueprint and open-source resource to encourage collaboration and the growth of reuse models.

“Reuse models are a critical tool in the fight against plastic waste, and brands and retailers are increasingly exploring them as a viable waste reduction strategy,” says Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. “Reusable packaging and cups are just the beginning; refill, resale and rental models that keep materials in circulation are poised to reinvent all kinds of product formats and industries. The future for reuse is bright, and now we need to work collaboratively toward it.” 

According to a news release from Closed Loop Partners, the investment firm convened the NextGen Consortium, with founding partners Starbucks and McDonald’s, among others, to address the world’s single-use food packaging waste issue by advancing the design, commercialization and recovery of packaging alternatives—starting with the hot and cold, to-go fiber cup system. Through the efforts of the NextGen Consortium, robust testing, funding and scaling of reusable cup models have been underway. Most recently, the Consortium ran pilots with NextGen Cup Challenge winners, CupClub and Muuse, across clusters of local cafes in the city of San Francisco and city of Palo Alto, California.

Reuse model insights

Before scaling any system, proof of concept and rigorous testing are essential, the organization says. Closed Loop Partners says the NextGen’s pilots have validated a sustained and methodical approach to innovating and testing reuse models, surfacing critical inputs and considerations for scale––applicable beyond just cups. These include engaging diverse stakeholders, making sustainable material choices, selecting appropriate locations, choosing the right payment model and optimizing health and safety protocols. Ultimately, reuse models must provide a seamless, convenient experience for companies and customers, according to the investment firm.

Closed Loop Partners’ report offers several lessons learned through the NextGen Consortium regarding reusable packaging.

First, the investment firm says reuse models must be a net-positive for the environment, offering a viable solution to addressing single-use packaging waste. The opportunity to close the loop on valuable materials is within our reach. There are more tools than ever to create products and systems that use materials more efficiently, make sound ethical sourcing decisions and test long-term impacts of new systems. The firm says technology exists to make a measurable positive impact moving forward, but the size of the impact comes down to a willingness to collaborate across sectors, find value alignment and drive toward innovations that benefit the environment.

Second, reuse models must be safe and hygienic at every step of the process. More than ever, the firm says, safety of employees and customers are to be prioritized. Reuse models must establish values that place safety and hygiene at the core of their operations. Findings have demonstrated that safety and hygiene cannot be compromised. With the reality of COVID-19 changing the landscape of the food and beverage industry, assurance and perception of sanitation are critical. In addition, new delivery methods beyond brick-and-mortar operations may warrant further exploration.

Third, reuse models must provide a seamless, convenient experience for companies and customers. The report states that there need to be seamless and accessible ways to get goods to people who desire them, and the onus cannot fall on the consumer. Closed Loop Partners says the process should not be difficult for consumers. To deliver a convenient experience, testing and streamlining the process will be necessary. Closed Loop Partners says identifying integration opportunities and considering which components within current operating systems are capable and ready for integration are necessary.

Finally, the firm says, reuse models should have a clear pathway to scale—success is tied to collaboration. Reuse models work and are ready for testing at an increased scale. To enable this, partnerships should e prioritized across the ecosystem. Consider who might need to be involved to make the system successful.

“We are excited to continue building on the momentum of NextGen’s reusable cup pilots, sharing insights and supporting the further development of innovative reuse models, in partnership with Starbucks, McDonald’s and other partners. This is just the beginning of our journey toward eliminating waste and we will continue to refine, test and hone circular solutions that can help us realize a more circular future together,” Daly of Closed Loop Partners adds.

Beyond its work with the NextGen Consortium, Closed Loop Partners invests in and explores various other applications for reuse models. One example is the firm’s investment in Algramo, a startup solving economic and environmental issues through its vending machines that dispense staple products, such as household cleaners, “by the gram.” Continued experimentation, investment and collaboration are needed to further scale reuse models, and we work with diverse stakeholders across the value chain––from corporate partners to cities to environmental nongovernmental organizations––to advance their growth and realize their full potential. 

Click here to read Closed Loop Partners’ report.

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Source: Recycling Today
A blueprint for reusable packaging systems
<![CDATA[The Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners has released a report titled “Bringing Reusable Packaging Systems to Life.” The New York-based investment firm says the report draws on insights from multiple reusable cup pilots conducted in partnership with the NextGen Consortium and IDEO, outlining lessons learned and sharing a blueprint and open-source resource to encourage collaboration and the growth of reuse models.“Reuse models are a critical tool in the fight against plastic waste, and brands and retailers are increasingly exploring them as a viable waste reduction strategy,” says Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. “Reusable packaging and cups are just the beginning; refill, resale and rental models that keep materials in circulation are poised to reinvent all kinds of product formats and industries. The future for reuse is bright, and now we need to work collaboratively toward it.” According to a news release from Closed Loop Partners, the investment firm convened the NextGen Consortium, with founding partners Starbucks and McDonald’s, among others, to address the world’s single-use food packaging waste issue by advancing the design, commercialization and recovery of packaging alternatives—starting with the hot and cold, to-go fiber cup…

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