One in three consumers believes brands are the entities most responsible for the future of the environment, so it’s no surprise that CPG (consumer packaged goods) brands are looking for novel ways to reduce their environmental impact. While many companies are trying to phase out plastics or use more recycled materials, a recent announcement points to a larger movement underway by some of the world’s biggest names in CPG. Announced in late January, Loop is a new zero-waste platform that allows consumers to buy many of their favorite CPG brands online – think Tide or Haagen-Dazs. The products are delivered in reusable containers, and, when finished, the customer simply puts the empty containers in a provided tote bag for pickup by UPS. The program is being piloted in the US and France later this year.

The Loop system is remarkable for a few reasons.

  • First, it’s an impressive and unprecedented collaboration between global holding companies, many of whom have competing product brands. Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Mondel?z and others all worked together to launch the project. That kind of unity is a powerful statement for the sake of sustainability.
  • Based on the first images we’ve seen, the Loop model alters a traditional differentiator for CPG brands – packaging – by forcing similar products into the same form factor. These brands are willingly relinquishing some control over one of their most important assets and vehicles for storytelling. It’s a big risk, given that these companies have invested millions in meticulously crafted and designed packaging. This sacrifice only underscores how important and urgent these holding companies view the sustainability issue.

This way of shopping won’t be for everyone; it appears to be geared toward brand-loyal consumers who want to reduce the environmental impact of the purchases they already make. But the Loop project shows promise in changing the way we consume household goods and could impact how brands make meaning for an eco-conscious shopper.P