By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS (Reuters) - French retailer Carrefour and U.S. waste recycling company TerraCycle launched on Tuesday the test for their 'Loop' initiative which they hope will tackle the problems of plastic waste threatening to destroy the environment.
The 'Loop' online platform will allow shoppers in the Paris area to buy orange juice, powder detergent or shampoo in reusable containers that do not result in waste.
The initiative was first announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, with over 25 big-name consumer goods and retail partners on board.
Users put down a refundable deposit via the Loop website when ordering products, which are delivered in reusable glass and metal bottles, and shipped in a tote bag to shoppers' doors.
Loop then retrieves the empty products for cleaning and reuse.
Plastic production has surged over the last 50 years, leading to the widespread use of disposable bottles, cups and containers, but this has also resulted in millions of tonnes of plastic waste ending up in landfills and oceans.
Government bans on products such as single-use plastic water bottles, shopping bags and polystyrene cups have sent retailers and consumer goods companies looking for alternatives.
Carrefour, which is Europe's largest retailer, aims to reach a 100% rate for recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging for its own brands by 2025.
Carrefour is Loop's founding retail partner for France.
It will be offering around 200 products - including around 30 of its own private label and organic products such as honey, oil or spices - during the initial trial in the Paris area.
These products will come alongside those of international brands that have already joined Loop such as Danone's Evian mineral water, Pepsico's Tropicana juice, Quaker Cruesli cereal or Unilever's 'Signal' toothpaste.
NEW YORK TO FOLLOW
Carrefour General Secretary Laurent Vallee said Loop would tie in with a broader strategy overhaul at Carrefour to focus more on areas such as fresh local produce and organic food, under a global five-year plan to boost sales and profits.
"We hope other international manufacturers and retailers will join us to adopt new standards and scale up this concept in order to fight waste," said Vallee.
The Loop trial launches first in Paris and then New York on May 21. A London launch via supermarket group Tesco is slated for later in 2019, with Toronto, Tokyo and California to follow next year.
The products available on www.maboutiqueloop.fr http://www.maboutiqueloop.fr will cost roughly the same as those in single-use containers but shoppers will have to pay a deposit, which for instance amounts to 25 euro cents for a 4.50 euros 75 cl bottle of Carrefour organic sunflower oil.
From October onwards Carrefour will also integrate Loop in its own e-commerce website www.Carrefour.fr/clvc, in a bid to boost traffic on its site and build up customer loyalty.
Partners in the Loop trial, many of which are re-designing their traditional packages, will test how the system works in general, and above all whether consumers are prepared to put up a deposit and then re-order products this way. Customers can opt to have the product automatically replaced.
Eventually, Carrefour could roll out the service in its stores.
"We want to reach 5,000 users in the trial. The percentage of clients loyal to Loop will be key. We aim for over 50% of re-order," Bertrand Swiderski, Carrefour's sustainability director, told Reuters.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)