Walgreens Boots Alliance exec talks plastic, packaging and COVID-19

March 1, 2021 by  
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Walgreens Boots Alliance exec talks plastic, packaging and COVID-19 Deonna Anderson Mon, 03/01/2021 – 01:45 Walgreens is a fixture in the United States. About 78 percent of the U.S. population lived within five miles of a Walgreens or Duane Reade store as of August, according to the company. And the company has even more properties under the parent organization, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA). WBA employs more than 450,000 people in more than 25 countries and during the fiscal year that ended in August, it had sales that added up to $139.5 billion. I recently spoke with Richard Ellis, vice president of corporate social responsibility (CSR) at WBA, via Zoom. At the time of our conversation in early February, one of the most pressing items on Ellis’ priority list was releasing WBA’s 2020 CSR report and tooting the company’s horn.  “Given all of the other things that companies need to communicate and want to talk about, we have perhaps missed a few tricks in the past in terms of the way in which we have told our people about what we have been doing, what we have been achieving,” Ellis said. He noted that the virtual release event had the potential to reach the 450,000 people that the company employs, much more than was typical at in-person releases in the before times. Ellis said he hoped the event would help those in attendance “feel really proud of the company that they work for.” During our conversation, we also discussed Ellis’ long-term CSR priorities, the company’s packaging goals and its partnership with Loop. Below is our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity. Deonna Anderson: I want to start with a level-setting question. Before doing research for this interview, I did not realize how big Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) is. You have retailers in the U.K. with Boots and Walgreens and Duane Reade in the U.S. and your wholesale business. With all of that in mind, how do you set your sustainability goals, and how these entities work together, if they do at all, to achieve your goals? Richard Ellis: In some respects, it goes back 20 years. Twenty years ago, I joined the Boots business when it was just a U.K. business. I joined Boots because it had come bottom in the first “Companies That Count” survey that an organization called Business in the Community had put together. And the company felt that that was wrong. So I spent probably four years putting together a program and a structure and a process that enabled Boots to become in the top three in the U.K. We then merged with Alliance UniChem, a European-based retailer and wholesaler. They quite liked the process that existed for Boots, so it was adopted by all of the Alliance UniChem companies that became the Alliance Boots business. When the Alliance Boots business then moved with Walgreens, [it] did not have a process, so they picked up and copied what Alliance Boots was doing. In a sense, the process has been 20 years in evolution rather than Walgreens, Boots and Alliance coming together and then the company searching for something to do.  If you go back 15 years, and you look at the first CSR report, then there are certain elements of it that have not changed in terms of the auditing, in terms of the following of a process that is laid down by the Global Reporting Initiative, etc. This agenda has been at the heart of the various iterations of the company. And now Walgreens Boots Alliance, employing over 400,000 people, it is a major company, and clearly this is an important agenda for any international business. Anderson: I wanted to talk through some of WBA’s sustainability ambitions. One of those is reducing plastics in Boots-owned brand packaging, in line with the UK Plastics Pact 2025 . How are you all doing that? How is it going so far? Ellis: When the Plastics Pact came along, it was formulating and putting in place a series of targets to capitalize upon work that we were already doing. So, when the Plastics Pact came out it was not something that was completely new to us. However, having a program [meant] there were targets we had to set up and start measuring and doing all these sorts of things. It is not one big thing but it is just a series of all of the actions that we take as a company to try to remove plastic from all of the things that we do and to try and then reuse what plastic we have in some way, shape or form. And basically, everything that has got plastic in it, we are looking and seeing how we can remove it. And that means that we have to collaborate with our suppliers and we have to educate our people internally in terms of the circular economy and how we recycle things. One of the things that we do is we backhaul all of the rubbish from the stores. A lorry [a large motor truck] makes a delivery to a store and it collects all of the waste from that particular store and it brings that waste back to a central recycling center, which is on the Nottingham side of the Boots business. This enables us to then segregate all of the different waste and then to recycle and then resell, reuse, all of those sorts of things. For argument’s sake, Christmas is an important time for Boots so they have lots of Christmas gifts, and this year we reduced the amount of plastic packaging that there was and other packaging by 270 tons. It is about the people in our marketing department understanding that perhaps it is not all that glitters is gold. In other words, they are removing some of the packaging to make the product more sustainable than perhaps using the packaging to make a product look slightly better. If you go into our distribution centers, there are seven different-colored waste bins and those waste bins enable us to segregate plastic.  It is not one big thing but it is just a series of all of the actions that we take as a company to try to remove plastic from all of the things that we do and to try and then reuse what plastic we have in some way, shape or form.  Anderson: One of WBA’s other sustainability efforts is related to rethinking consumption and waste management and trying to promote a circular economy. That reminded me of Walgreens’ partnership with Loop to sell products in reusable containers. How would you describe that partnership as fitting into WBA’s goals around packaging? Ellis: It is one of those initiatives that we are looking at because we are trying to learn all of the time. Loop has very much done in partnership with Kroger, who we have a collaboration with. I think the idea that you can buy refillable contents is something that interests us greatly. One of the things that we are experimenting with is people bringing in shampoo bottles and being able to refill them with the same product. Now, one of the problems that we have got is that because shampoo is a liquid, how do we improve the kind of lock and load where you twist the [top] or you affix the bottle so that you can refill it, so that it does not go everywhere, create a mess and cause lots of waste? If you look at the distribution centers in America, there is a project called Beyond 34 because no American city recycles more than 34 percent of the waste that it produces. Across our distribution center network, we have got that up to 98 percent, and that is all about reusing the packaging, reusing the totes, reusing the boxes, working with suppliers. This is all the circular economy in practice. And I think the big issue is that it is about collaboration. From our point of view, the work that we do with Unilever, with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), with Johnson & Johnson in trying to manage all of these issues shows that the big international businesses have woken up to the challenges, which exist and realized that they are not going to solve them on their own. Anderson: It is kind of impossible to solve them all alone as one company because the problem is huge.  I read a recap of a Reuters event where you spoke, and you mentioned that working together with other companies and through your supply chain will be necessary to increase climate action after COVID-19. How else has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your work at Walgreens Boots Alliance or the approach you feel your company should take moving forward with taking climate action? Ellis: I think COVID has forced businesses to look very carefully at the way that they operate. And people like myself who have been working from home would never have believed that we could work for a year without, for argument’s sake, me traveling to America. I used to spend half my time in Chicago and other points, but in the past year, I have not been once. But using Microsoft Teams, I have been able to keep in touch with all of the people that work for me and all of those other departments that I have engagement with. And I would never have believed that it would be possible to keep the agenda moving forward, but the technology has really come into play and has helped a great deal.  I think we are just coming to terms with how COVID-19 will change the businesses that we operate. I think that what we will see within the retail business is that there will be much, much more online shopping. I think people have, shall we say, graduated to online shopping. And I think a lot of people, because they have been in lockdown, because they have been worried about contracting the COVID virus, what they have done is they have battled with their tablets and they have actually gotten used to online shopping. And so, that, I think, is going to have a big role to play in the way that we operate as a business. Climate change will not be reversible in the same way that COVID will be — hopefully — by a vaccine. I can see that we will learn lessons and we will start to think about how we trade and how we operate. I think lots of retailers are closing outlets because people are finding alternative ways of shopping. And I think that COVID has acted as a catalyst and has really got people thinking differently about the way that they operate. And I think businesses like ours are having to really sit up and take notice and start to change their philosophies and the way in which they operate. And I think that the impact of COVID in terms of it is the first real crisis that has impacted the whole world since the end of the Second World War, and I think people can see that as climate change starts to take effect [that] climate change will be a much worse impact than COVID. And it will not be cured by a vaccine.  If you look at Phoenix, last year Phoenix [broke the record for days with] temperatures above 100 degrees . You cannot live under those conditions. And if the number continues to rise, then there will be a huge migration of people. Similarly, people will not [be able to] live in California where the forest fires are or in Florida where Hurricane Alley is. All of those things are starting to make people aware of climate change and how climate change will impact all of us, and that climate change will not be reversible in the same way that COVID will be, hopefully, by a vaccine.  Anderson: I want to switch gears a bit. Are there any lessons in the corporate social responsibility report that we have not talked about that you feel are important lessons for GreenBiz readers? Ellis: As you read through our report, it is littered with examples of how we have worked with different people, with different organizations, how we have worked by sharing best practice across our businesses, the fact that we are operating in 26 countries, and that we can learn from each other. The rules and regulations that exist in Europe are different to America, and what can we learn from that? Why is that? How can we create a better, more sustainable business because we are sharing that best practice, because we work collaboratively internally as well as externally? And I think that is what comes through within the report in terms of how do we create healthier communities, how do we create a healthier environment, how do we create a healthier workplace? What do we do to make our products more sustainable? And all of those things are happening because we are trying to innovate but we are also trying to learn from others who have greater expertise or who want to work with us. Anderson: That reminds me of one of my last questions, which is about Walgreens welcoming a new CEO soon , Roz Brewer . How do you anticipate working together with her to continue pushing forward WBA’s social responsibility efforts? Ellis: I am very much looking forward to working with her from what I have seen of Starbucks in terms of their commitment to fair trade with all of their coffee products, in terms of their packaging, and what is in the public domain about what Starbucks has done. There are very similar parallels between ourselves and Starbucks. I am looking forward to learning some of the lessons that she might have picked up from Starbucks and bringing those to play in what we do. Equally, I’m looking forward to explaining to her all of the things that we have been doing over the past 20 years to try and make our business more sustainable. Anderson: As you just mentioned, you have been in corporate social responsibility work for a while. What is your most important priority right now as the VP of corporate social responsibility at Walgreens Boots Alliance? Ellis: In the long term, it is climate change, climate emissions. I really think that we have got to continue on our path. If you look at the report, it shows that we reduced our carbon footprint last year by 7.9 percent. And really, what we have got to do is to work with our suppliers — and I do not just mean the Unilevers of this world; I mean a lot of the small-to-medium-size firms — and impress upon them the need to reduce their carbon footprint. And what we have got to do is help them understand the things that we have done over the past 20 years, which have enabled us year on year to reduce our carbon footprint because it is better for the world and we are saving money for the company. Pull Quote Climate change will not be reversible in the same way that COVID will be — hopefully — by a vaccine. It is not one big thing but it is just a series of all of the actions that we take as a company to try to remove plastic from all of the things that we do and to try and then reuse what plastic we have in some way, shape or form. Topics Retail Corporate Social Responsibility Collective Insight The GreenBiz Interview Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of Walgreens Boots Alliance.

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Walgreens Boots Alliance exec talks plastic, packaging and COVID-19

Moving beyond 100% recyclable goals

January 28, 2021 by  
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Moving beyond 100% recyclable goals Scott Breen Thu, 01/28/2021 – 01:15 Numerous companies have set 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging goals such as Colgate-Palmolive and Kellogg. Virtually all these companies, though, are not tracking whether their packaging is actually recycled and what new products their packaging becomes. Without this end-of-life tracking, they cannot determine the extent of the economic and environmental impact from how their packaging was recycled. Technical recyclability is only the first step of many questions to determine if your packaging works in today’s recycling system. Other questions include: Is the packaging collected in the vast majority of recycling programs? Can the packaging be easily separated from the rest of the single stream recyclables? Once baled with like materials, does the material the packaging was made of sell for an amount that pays for the cost to collect and separate it and, ideally, provide additional needed revenue to the material recovery facilities (MRF) that separate single stream recyclables? Is the packaging downcycled into a product unlikely to be recycled at its end-of-life?  These questions are harder to answer. Further, some companies may not want to look under the recycling hood. They might fear uncovering negative characteristics for a packaging type that they want to continue using because they’ve invested in it, it provides higher margins than other packaging, or consumers find it attractive. If companies are serious about fixing the U.S. recycling system, they need to go beyond a new willingness to fee-setting and long-term recyclability goals . They need to consider what inputs they are pumping into the recycling system. Material flows One way to answer some of the above questions is to use material flow analyses (MFA). MFAs show visually how materials flow through the waste management system. They make it easier to identify where material is being lost and whether there is downcycling or ” real recycling .” While the whopping 82% of plastic going to landfill is jarring, it is important to look at the end-products that this MFA identifies and what percent actually gets recycled once entering the recycling system. Metabolic’s ” Recycling Unpacked: Assessing the Circular Potential of Beverage Containers in the U.S. ” has a beverage container MFA. One can see that a third of PET is lost during the mechanical recycling process and 40 percent of the glass material collected from single-stream recycling systems is used as landfill cover. The MFA also shows the best performer. It is aluminum cans with 82 percent of used beverage cans entering the U.S. recycling system able to be recovered for high-quality closed-loop recycling into another can, which easily can be recycled at the end of its useful life. Closed Loop Partners (CLP) also has conducted a detailed MFA for a variety of plastic resins. While the whopping 82 percent of plastic going to landfill is jarring, it is important to look at the end-products that this MFA identifies and what percent actually gets recycled once entering the recycling system. End uses vary by resin. One of the top end-uses noted in the MFA is synthetic fiber, which typically is used for clothing. Most new clothing , regardless of if it is made with recycled material, will go to landfill unless nascent solutions are scaled. One extra revolution is far from true circularity. Also consider plastic polyethylene (PE) film in CLP’s MFA. The only PE film that is recycled is the small percent that goes to retail store drop-off and commercial direct bales. So, PE film is technically recyclable . Thus, some companies may count it towards their 100 percent recyclable goal, but it is far from being truly recycled in today’s system. It may be difficult for a company to do an MFA of just its products. Still, companies should look to MFAs of material types and packaging generally to get a sense of if there is ” real recycling ” with their packaging. Revenue source or cost for recyclers The more than 350 residential MRFs in the U.S. are struggling with incessant contamination and often pay more to separate recyclables than they earn selling them.  Companies should consider whether the packaging they put into the marketplace will help recyclers on the back end with added revenue. The consistent, relatively high revenue sources for MRFs are certain kinds of paper ( cardboard ), aluminum beverage cans and certain kinds of plastic ( HDPE ). In fact, one recent study by Gershman, Brickner & Bratton determined that without the revenue from used beverage cans, most MRFs wouldn’t be able to operate . Typically low or even negative value materials for MRFs include glass , mixed paper and cartons .  They also should consider if the material is easy to separate and bale to sell for the needed revenue. For example, steel cans are easy to remove from the rest of the single stream recyclables via a magnet . Artificial Intelligence , robotics and optical scanners help address materials being missorted . Nonetheless, many MRFs do not have this kind of technology, nor the capital to purchase it . Environmental impact of recycling In addition to the economic impact of recycling, companies should consider the environmental impact that comes with how their packaging is recycled. The amount of energy saved from making a product with recycled material versus virgin material differs. With plastic and glass, it’s about a third . In contrast, aluminum cans and steel cans save 90 percent and 75 percent , respectively. A company making sure all its packaging is technically recyclable does little to address this problem of too much packaging that the U.S. recycling system cannot process economically and efficiently. Recycled content goals are certainly a step in the right direction toward building up domestic recycling markets and achieving the above environmental impact with greater displacement of virgin material. However, companies still should consider whether the materials in their packaging can loop numerous times. Plastic can be recycled only two or three times . Alternatively, glass and metal can recycle many more times as there is no loss in quality when they are recycled. When multiple loops from the same piece of material are considered , the environmental and economic impacts stack up . Packaging choice is critical to recycling system health The key to a thriving recycling system is either investing in the technology and infrastructure necessary such that all recyclable materials can be economically and efficiently recycled at scale or having more consumer goods companies choose packaging that recycles economically and efficiently in the current system. Neither is happening right now. Too much packaging dumped into the marketplace does not work in today’s recycling system. It’s worthless, multi-material, hard to separate and/or not easy to recycle into anything useful/recyclable. No wonder there are now calls for the chasing arrows symbol to be taken off all plastic packaging, and Greenpeace is suing Walmart for misleading recyclability labels on its plastic products and packaging. A company making sure all its packaging is technically recyclable does little to address this problem of too much packaging that the U.S. recycling system cannot process economically and efficiently. Companies need to go beyond technically “recyclable” in the sustainability metrics they use to choose their packaging . Potential alternative metrics include some percent of all the company’s packaging is above a certain value per ton, some percent of all the company’s packaging is primarily made of material that does not degrade during the recycling process and some percent of all the company’s packaging is primarily recycled into the same kind of packaging or other useful, easy to recycle products. There’s an opportunity for a company to be the first mover in next level recycling metrics and packaging choice. Once many companies make the shift, the recycling system will thrive and the economic and environmental impact from recycling will multiply. Pull Quote While the whopping 82% of plastic going to landfill is jarring, it is important to look at the end-products that this MFA identifies and what percent actually gets recycled once entering the recycling system. A company making sure all its packaging is technically recyclable does little to address this problem of too much packaging that the U.S. recycling system cannot process economically and efficiently. Topics Design & Packaging Circular Economy Recycling Packaging Circular Packaging Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash .

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Moving beyond 100% recyclable goals

Burger King announces reusable container pilot program

October 23, 2020 by  
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If the ghosts of fast food containers past are haunting your conscience, Burger King has the solution. The fast food giant has announced a pilot plan to introduce reusable containers. Burger King is partnering with Loop , a circular packaging service owned by TerraCycle, to provide the new containers. Consumers can opt to pay a container deposit when buying a meal. When they return the packaging, they get a refund. Loop cleans the packaging, preparing it for a long life of housing infinite Whoppers and Cokes. The pilot program will go into effect next year in Tokyo, New York City and Portland, Oregon. If it goes well, more cities will soon know the joy of a recycled Whopper box. Related: Swiss grocery store chain will be the first to sell insect burgers “As part of our Restaurant Brands for Good plan, we’re investing in the development of sustainable packaging solutions that will help push the food service industry forward in reducing packaging waste ,” said Matthew Banton, Burger King Global’s head of innovation and sustainability. “The Loop system gives us the confidence in a reusable solution that meets our high safety standards, while also offering convenience for our guests on the go.” Burger King has set a goal of 100% of customer packaging being sourced from recycled, renewable or certified sources by 2025. The company is also trying to improve its waste diversion. By 2025, Burger King restaurants in the U.S. and Canada aim to recycle 100% of guest packaging. The pandemic has focused even more attention on packaging, since so many restaurants are closed for in-house dining. “During COVID, we have seen the environmental impact of increased takeaway ordering which makes this initiative by Burger King all the more important,” said Tom Szaky, TerraCycle and Loop CEO, as reported in BusinessWire . “This enables Burger King consumers to easily bring reusability into their daily lives, and whether they choose to eat-in or takeaway, they will be able to get some of their favorite food and drinks in a reusable container.” Via BusinessWire and Business Insider Image via Burger King / BusinessWire

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Companies in Japan launch edible single-use bags to save Nara deer

October 23, 2020 by  
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Local companies in Nara, Japan have developed single-use bags made from milk cartons and rice bran that are safe if ingested by the city’s iconic deer. In 2019, multiple deer accidentally swallowed trash , namely plastic bags, that were littered by tourists. Several of the deer died, including one that had consumed nearly 9 pounds of waste. This prompted concerned entities to create a safer alternative to plastic packaging that can be digested without harm to the deer. The newly developed bags have been instrumental in saving the lives of the hundreds of deer that roam Nara. The bags are safe for deer, because the milk cartons and rice bran used to make these bags contain easy-to-digest ingredients. While there has been a decline in tourists and their plastic waste during the pandemic, the single-use bags still stand as a positive change to continue into the future. Related: Climate change is killing reindeer in the Arctic Tourists in Nara can purchase treats to feed the deer, and signs are posted warning visitors to only feed the deer approved treats that do not come in plastic packaging. Still, many tourists left behind waste that was consumed by the animals . After hearing of the deer that died from ingesting plastic , Hidetoshi Matsukawa, a local businessman, reached out to other firms with the interest of creating bags and packaging that would be safe in the event that they were eaten by the deer. “We made the paper with the deer in mind,” Matsukawa said. “ Tourism in Nara is supported by deer so we will protect them and promote the bags as a brand for the local economy.” The efforts to market the bags as a safe option for visitors to the city have been fruitful. About 35,000 bags have already been sold to local businesses and Nara’s tourism bureau. Since 1957, Japan has deemed the deer in Nara as national treasures that are protected by law, as they are considered divine messengers in the area. Via The Guardian Image via Matazel

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The How2Recycle label needs a massive campaign. Brands should make it happen

September 22, 2020 by  
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The How2Recycle label needs a massive campaign. Brands should make it happen Suzanne Shelton Tue, 09/22/2020 – 01:00 I hope you’ve downloaded our latest free report, “Engaging Middle America in Recycling Solutions.” . We conducted that research because we were curious about whether Americans were aware of what was happening with our recycling system — that most Asian countries no longer will take our plastics off our hands, many municipal curbside programs are shutting down and many plastics we’re all putting in our recycling bins are being landfilled — and, if they were aware, what was the impact on their recycling behaviors? We also wanted to understand what could keep them engaged once they understood that they need to do things better or differently to ensure everything they chuck in the bin actually gets recycled. That led us to ask the following questions: How often do you look for an item’s recycling label before discarding it? Some companies have started including new labeling on their packaging showing which parts of the package are recyclable (see sample image). Have you noticed any new recycling labeling on the packaging of things you buy? We made a high-level, perhaps seemingly cavalier recommendation in the report (and in my GreenBiz article about it ) that most Americans haven’t noticed the How2Recycle label — a standardized labeling system that clearly communicates recycling instructions to the public — or find it too hard to read and that we need a massive campaign to teach people to look before they toss. It’s worth unpacking this because there’s a key insight for brands. First off, only 22 percent of Americans say they always look for an item’s recycling label before discarding the item — so one in five people. Of those, 66 percent have noticed the new label, the How2Recycle label pictured above. One in five Americans are diligently working to discard a brand’s packaging properly. For the folks who have noticed — the 66 percent of the 22 percent — the vast majority (86 percent) find the label helpful and feel that the label makes it easier to know which parts of a package are actually recyclable. Two-thirds of this group of “Always Recyclers” who’ve noticed the How2Recycle label say they feel frustrated that parts of the package aren’t recyclable. (If you read the free report , this makes sense — we all really want to believe in the guilt-absolving promise of recycling.) Half of this group say the label is too small to read, and 63 percent say if they weren’t already aware of the label, they wouldn’t know to look for it. Bottom line: One in five Americans are diligently working to discard a brand’s packaging properly, and the How2Recycle label makes it easier for them to do it right. Thus, they think that brands should be promoting the label, making it easier to see on packaging, AND that companies need to make more parts of their packaging actually recyclable. If you represent a consumer-packaged goods (CPG) brand, you have a vested interest in encouraging better recycling behaviors. As we note in our report, people want the recycling system to work (76 percent of us say recycling makes us feel better about our purchases). They feel like it’s a promise that’s been made to them by CPG companies: “You don’t have to feel guilty about all the buying of stuff you do … just recycle it when you’re done, and it will become something else for somebody else! It’s the circle of life! You’re doing your part!” Once that promise begins to fall apart, most Americans won’t blame themselves — they’ll blame the companies who made the promise. So, let’s make it work. Let’s create a massive campaign encouraging people to look for the How2Recycle label so that recyclable items actually get in the recycling bin and non-recyclable items go in the trash. Brands, use that label as an internal pressure point to design packaging that’s actually recyclable. It’ll be great for your brand. Who’s with me? Pull Quote One in five Americans are diligently working to discard a brand’s packaging properly. Topics Marketing & Communication Consumer Trends Recycling Collective Insight Speaking Sustainably Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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The How2Recycle label needs a massive campaign. Brands should make it happen

Clever Reuse Ideas for Insulated Food Delivery Bags

September 14, 2020 by  
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Perhaps you’ve placed an order and they’re standing right outside … The post Clever Reuse Ideas for Insulated Food Delivery Bags appeared first on Earth 911.

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How BASF’s reciChain aims to improve traceability of recycled plastics

September 12, 2020 by  
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How BASF’s reciChain aims to improve traceability of recycled plastics The vision for BASF’s reciChain project is to take circularity into the real world by increasing traceability of recycled plastics. The company created a plastic additive that enables the traceability. Mitchell Toomey, director of sustainability for North America at BASF, shared an example of how it could work on a laundry detergent bottle: “Once that product goes to the end of its life and goes into recycling, it can be scanned an tracked at that point in time to give the recycler some information about what it contains,” he said, noting that the tracker could show the types of resins and plastics the packaging is made of. Toomey added that once a product is recycled, the tracker can be maintained through multiple uses. The pilot will need to be scaled to have a big impact but BASF is already working with partners across the value chain. “We believe by showing this proof of concept and showing that such a tracking material could actually work, we could revolutionize how sorting and recycling goes,” Toomey said. John Davies, vice president and senior analyst at GreenBiz, interviewed Mitchell Toomey, director of sustainability for North America at BASF, during Circularity 20, which took place on August 25-27, 2020. View archived videos from the conference here . Deonna Anderson Sat, 09/12/2020 – 14:47 Featured Off

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Ulta Beauty is bringing refillable containers back to the cosmetics industry

August 18, 2020 by  
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Ulta Beauty is bringing refillable containers back to the cosmetics industry Jesse Klein Tue, 08/18/2020 – 02:00 The beauty industry has a plastic waste problem. And it knows it. A quick Google search brings up articles from Allure , National Geographic , Forbes , Teen Vogue and 31,800,000 other results about the issue.  It seems those concerns finally have reached a critical mass, inspiring a sustainability makeover at three of the biggest beauty brands in the business — Sephora, Natura & Co, and Ulta Beauty. Last year, Sephora launched Clean at Sephora , a label that originally screened for 13 ingredients considered “unclean” but in July was expanded to over 50 substances, including butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), sulfates, mercury, talc, aluminum salts and lead. The company announced a partnership Aug. 17 with the Environmental Defense Fund to continue the reduction of toxic chemicals in its products.  Sephora reported that 94 percent of its products contain no high-priority chemicals laid out by its chemical policy , and 13 percent more products on its shelves release ingredient information compared to last year. Sephora also recently took action on the racial justice issue by becoming what it believes is the first beauty company to commit to giving 15 percent of its shelf space to Black-owned brands per the 15 Percent Pledge  — however, it hasn’t given a timeline for when it will complete that goal.  Natura & Co., which recently announced its 10-year Vision 2030 sustainability plan, is prioritizing initiatives including habitat protection and reimagining its packaging. The strategy expanding preservation of the Amazon rainforest to 7.4 million acres from its current 4.5 million , having fully circular packaging by investing $100 million in developing regenerative solutions, and decreasing its greenhouse gas emissions. Ulta Beauty also recently announced a new overarching sustainability initiative, Conscious Beauty. The program commits to elevating cruelty-free and vegan products highlighting these brands in-store. Ulta, like Sephora, is planning a Made Without list that will tag products free of parabens, phthalates and 25 other chemical categories. Ulta also ran an advertising campaign in 2018 highlighting diversity in beauty including different races, genders and even a model in a wheelchair . In the past few years, the company has added black-owned brands such as EleVen by Venus Williams , Pattern by Tracee Ellis Ross and Juvia’s Place . But Ulta’s marquee pledge is getting to 50 percent recycled, bio-sourced materials or refillable containers by 2025.   According to the Ulta press release, the cosmetic industry produces 120 billion packaging units every year across the globe. And with 1,264 retail stores across 50 states , Ulta is a large contributor to this issue. Many tubes of mascara and lip gloss and tins of powder, blush and eyeshadow can’t be recycled at all.  Loop sees an opportunity with the high-priced luxury makeup brands sold by Ulta. “We know the packaging in beauty is a challenge,” said Dave Kimball, president of Ulta Beauty. “But we think we could be part of the solution.” To get to that 50 percent goal, Ulta has teamed up with reusable packaging darling Loop from TerraCycle. Loop distributes products including Häagen-Dazs ice cream, Pantene shampoos and Clorox wipes in refillable containers. When customers buy the product online, they put down a deposit that is returned when the consumer mails the containers back via a designated tote. Loop already has U.S. partnerships with Kroger and Walgreens , and it is planning to offer in-store drop-off locations by the middle of next year. That’s something it also hopes to do with Ulta in the future.  Right now Loop offers refillable containers for groceries. Courtesy of Loop. Loop sees an opportunity with the high-priced luxury makeup brands sold by Ulta that it doesn’t have with the ones sold at your neighborhood grocer or pharmacy.  “Beauty products need to have packaging that has a beauty aspect because beauty is about beauty,” said Tom Szaky, CEO and founder of TerraCycle. “There’s this huge opportunity for epic design that is unique to the beauty category. Doing things that can’t be done when you have a cheap disposable package.”  There’s this huge opportunity for epic design that is unique to the beauty category. Beauty products in the 1950s came in beautiful glass, gold, silver, crystal and ceramic bottles and containers that were refillable. Since the 1960s, the amount of plastic packaging on everything, not just cosmetics, has increased 120 times. As the industry moved to disposables, cosmetic packaging designers typically prioritized more function over form. The Ulta-Loop partnership could spur a return to a previous era for the industry, the partners believe.  “It’s going to allow packaging innovation in a way that’s never been done before,” Szaky said. “Because the beauty brands are willing to be brave and push the envelope.”  While Loop already has a few partnerships in the cosmetic space — including with brands such as Pantene, REN and The Body Shop — Ulta is the first collaboration focused specifically on the lucrative world of makeup.  “We’re going to really leverage the relationships and the influence that we have in the industry to help drive change as [Loop is] building their packaging and their supply chains,” Kimball said. Ulta Beauty hopes to have a Loop drop off point in store like this. Courtesy of Loop. Loop will use Ulta’s connections in the beauty world to create innovative new packaging designs for Ulta’s in-house brand and other consumer favorites; the exact brands have not yet been nailed down. According to Szaky, Loop plans to tap the best and most creative designers for the project. Ulta has a unique power to pressure its vendors to take up sustainable initiatives such as this to get better placement in-store. And Loop can use Ulta’s connections to expand its own portfolio. In the end, there will be a joint website to sell the products before transiting to Ulta.com with a Loop-specific section. “It’s going to take multiple efforts to really attack this,” Kimball said. “There’s a packaging opportunity that we collectively have as the industry, and we think it’s important for Ulta Beauty to be a leader in helping drive it forward.”   Pull Quote Loop sees an opportunity with the high-priced luxury makeup brands sold by Ulta. There’s this huge opportunity for epic design that is unique to the beauty category. Topics Retail Circular Economy Zero Waste Circular Packaging Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Plastic lipstick tubes, eyeshadow palettes and foundation bottles are a huge problem for the industry. Courtesy of Unsplash, Jazmin Quaynor.

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Ulta Beauty is bringing refillable containers back to the cosmetics industry

Unilever To Add Carbon Footprint Information on Packaging

July 16, 2020 by  
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Unilever, the industrial giant behind the Seventh Generation, Dove, Ben … The post Unilever To Add Carbon Footprint Information on Packaging appeared first on Earth 911.

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Unilever To Add Carbon Footprint Information on Packaging

How TerraCycle’s safety and cleaning practices can be adopted across industries

May 22, 2020 by  
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How TerraCycle’s safety and cleaning practices can be adopted across industries Deonna Anderson Fri, 05/22/2020 – 00:05 The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the safety of reuse into question. But Tom Szaky, CEO of TerraCycle, thinks when the crisis is over there will be even more opportunity for reusable packaging and containers to become more commonplace, if done right. “Recycling is going to take a real punch to the face, to be quite fair,” Szaky said during GreenBiz Group’s Circularity 20 Digital event this week, pointing to the continued decrease in oil prices and the pressure that’s putting on the economics of using recycled plastics. “That’s disastrous for the recycling industry, which creates its revenue by selling recycled plastics, which are hedged against, in many ways, the price of oil.” Many recycling activities have been paused as the pandemic has raised health and safety concerns, which could lead to a waste crisis post-pandemic, he said. Recycling centers have closed temporarily or indefinitely, across California and in parts of Ohio, Oregon and Alabama. “That, I think, will benefit waste innovations,” said Szaky, whose company is in the business of recycling and eliminating waste. “It will especially benefit the reuse movement because that is sort of the next step up in waste innovation.” Szaky acknowledged that reuse is not a silver bullet solution to addressing the waste problem, but if life cycle assessment is considered , he said that reuse can be better than single-use options in a significant number of cases. It plays a role in reducing waste and TerraCycle’s e-commerce program Loop  — which features items in reusable containers — plans to be part of that, while being affordable and convenient. We’re still very focused on trying to create a reusable system that has the same convenience as disposability … “We’re still very focused on trying to create a reusable system that has the same convenience as disposability because [while] disposability has a lot of negatives, it is the gold standard, by far, for convenience,” he said. “That is our holy grail, to get to the exact same convenience you get when you throw something in the garbage, with no thinking, no thought and off you go.” While Loop is still working toward the convenience factor, it’s also working toward building trust with consumers outside of its core following. As Szaky wrote in a piece for GreenBiz recently, “Reusable packaging is faced with proving its trustworthiness alongside disposables in a world that is standing six feet apart in the grocery aisle.” In the time that comes after COVID-19, TerraCycle’s Loop and other companies that are working on launching or improving their reuse models must do it right. That means consumers need to be able to know that the reusable packaging they are using was thoroughly cleaned and doesn’t pose a health risk to them. During the Circularity 20 Digital conversation, Szaky described the cleaning process for the packaging in the Loop program, between when it leaves one consumer’s possession and ends up with another. First, the customer either will drop off their Loop tote at a retailer or have it picked up and shipped. (TerraCycle recently announced that it would expand its reuse platform Loop across the contiguous United States including in physical retail stores.) Earlier this year, the company announced partnerships with Walgreens and Kroger that would allow consumers to drop off totes in bins within their stores, starting this fall.  Once the tote reaches a Loop distribution center, it is checked in and the packages inside it are sorted based on the contents and type of packaging material. Then each type of packages is stored until there are enough to start cleaning, which takes place in a proper cleanroom where people are in full gear. “The process to clean — which is what chemistry is used, dwell times both in drying and washing and temperatures, and all those different types of knobs and dials on the cleaning protocol — are set to be specific to that content and the type of material that content was in,” said Szaky, noting that both factors have meaningful effects on the cleaning process. Once the packages are cleaned, it is immediately shipped to the manufacturer, which has protocols for maintaining cleanliness for the packaging. Szaky noted that each time the cleanroom is used it is reset — pipes flushed for potential allergens and air vented — for the next batch of cleaning. Lauren Phipps, GreenBiz Group’s director and senior analyst for the circular economy, who led the conversation with Szaky, asked if there was an opportunity for retailers and restaurants to implement similar practices for their reusable items and how they could communicate their practices with consumers. Szaky responded by sharing that he’s been working with the group Consumers Beyond Disposability — which is housed under the World Economic Forum and includes the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, City of Paris and PepsiCo — to develop guidelines for companies that want to put reuse in play. The group plans to share those guidelines during the Davos gathering in January. But for now, Szaky gave an example of how safe reuse could work in a coffee shop. “I would recommend that there’s some process that when you give your cup to the barista, maybe the barista looks at the cup and only accepts certain types of cups … then has some process that is consumer-facing, that you can see and that you can be proud that that process is strong and you can trust it,” he said. “Trust is a critical commodity that we have to build with individuals right now, or in fact almost re-earn.” Pull Quote We’re still very focused on trying to create a reusable system that has the same convenience as disposability … Topics Circular Economy Circularity 20 Circular Packaging Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock warut pothikit Close Authorship

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How TerraCycle’s safety and cleaning practices can be adopted across industries

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