(CBS) — The Environmental Protection Agency says only about 9% of the plastic created in the US is recycled. Now one company is trying to revive an old idea to help with this modern-day problem.
Loop sells dozens of brand-name products from Tide detergent to Häagen-Dazs ice cream in stainless steel or other reusable containers.
[WATCH: Reuse or recycle? Company adapts old-time milkman model for modern consumers]
Cheryl Suvalic is testing the service. Suvalic paid a one-time deposit of $2.50 for each container and a $7 shipping fee for each order, but she believes it’s money well spent.
“It’s just like any other e-commerce shopping site; you order your products, everything about the entire order; there’s nothing to recycle, everything is reusable,” Suvalic says.
When Suvalic is finished with the containers she doesn’t toss them in the trash or recycle bin. Instead, she packs them up and ships them back.
Loop says this is a modern version of the milkman. Tom Szaky is the CEO of TerraCycle, the company behind Loop. He points out that the vast majority of the products we use end up in a landfill or the ocean.
Loop’s empty containers are sent to a plant where they are washed, sterilized and sent to the manufacturer to be refilled.
Some of the world’s biggest companies, including Procter & Gamble, Nestle, Mars and Unilever, have joined, according to Szaky.
“When you move from single-use products and packages to multi-use, what you’re doing is you’re eliminating the need to create packaging over and over and over,” he said.
Cornell University Professor Glen Dowell likes what Loop is trying but says all that shipping has an environmental impact.
“When we think about the footprint of the transportation of getting the containers back and forth, it’s going to be quite a few times that these containers have to be reused before they’re better in an environmental sense than the plastic containers they replace,” he said.
Loopstore.com will be available to the public on May 21.
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