UK launches first zero-waste online grocery shopping service

Loop is one of the most ambitious attempts yet to eliminate plastic waste from the household shop. Photo: Loop/PA
Loop is one of the most ambitious attempts yet to eliminate plastic waste from the household shop. Photo: Loop/PA

A zero-waste shopping service is launching to deliver groceries and household essentials in reusable packaging to homes across the UK.

Loop offers 150 products that usually come in single-use plastic packaging from 35 major brands, with more to be added in the future, that are delivered in fully reusable packaging which can be returned, cleaned and refilled through the scheme.

Customers ordering online from the Loop website are charged a deposit fee on each piece of refillable packaging which is fully refundable when the empty item is returned, and the products are then delivered by courier DPD in a reusable container.

Hailed as the “milkman reimagined,” customers can schedule a pick-up of their empty containers from the doorstep — which can be combined with the next delivery — to be cleaned for reuse up to 100 times. Customers can also drop them off at one of DPD’s 2,500 collection points across the UK.

Loop said it will sort and professionally clean the packaging to strict health and safety standards so it can be refilled by the manufacturer.

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Major consumer goods companies such as Unilever (ULVR.L) and PepsiCo (PEP) have created eco-packaged versions of popular brands such as Tropicana, Persil and Hellmann’s for Loop. Household favourites including Heinz (KHC) Tomato Ketchup, Coca-Cola (KO), Danone (BN.PA), Jackpot Peanut Butter, Brewdog, and Nivea will also be available on the scheme.

Loop is already up and running in the US and France, with plans to launch in Japan, Australia and Canada next year.

Tesco (TSCO.L) is partnering with Loop, which is a spin-off of waste management company TerraCycle, with plans for the supermarket to absorb the platform into its own business — aiming to make products in reusable packaging available in dedicated aisles in Tesco stores from 2021.

Tom Szaky, founder and chief executive of Loop and TerraCycle, said: “Loop was designed from the ground up to reinvent the way we consume by learning from historic circular and sustainable models like the milkman from yesteryear while honouring the convenience afforded by our single-use consumption of today.

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“Tesco is the perfect partner to bring Loop to retail in the UK due to its commitment to sustainability, in combating plastics waste, and its operational scale as the UK’s biggest grocery retailer.”

Online shopping has skyrocketed since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, but progress in reducing single-use plastics has stalled, due to the increased use of masks, gloves, visors, disposable wipes, and hand sanitiser in plastic containers amid fears of contamination.

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