Tom Szaky stands out in a corporate crowd, opting for a black t-shirt instead of a custom suit. He sits atop environmental solutions that range from diverting waste to reducing it altogether. With long hair and a casual tone, he often sits next to CEOs of major companies who otherwise might not give his mission for the future – “to change the rules of waste” – a second glance. But Szaky’s been able to unlock a solution that works for the brands and the buyers.
“Loop,” an initiative started by Szaky’s company TerraCycle, enables consumers to shop for brands in durable, reusable packaging, creating a circular system designed to put an end to disposable single-use packaging. From global companies such as Unilever and Nature’s Path to independently owned businesses such as Reinberger Nut Butters, Melanin Essentials and Soapply, more than 80 brands of all sizes in multiple categories have joined Loop, totalling 400 products globally. And more than 100,000 U.S. consumers have signed up for the service.
“One of the reasons single-use packaging has been so popular is because it’s convenient and affordable,” Szaky says, “so our goal is to provide consumers that same experience, minus the wasteful packaging.”
And because the twenty-first century consumer is mobile, Loop’s marketing and overall user experience is meeting people where they are: on the go. Loop customers receive their durable products in Loop’s exclusively designed shipping tote. When finished, consumers schedule a pickup from the convenience of their homes or, hopefully in the future, can drop off empty containers at retail locations. Loop cleans the packaging and promptly replenishes products as needed. This way, the consumer saves by only actually paying for the product, instead of both the product and the packaging.
Loop is ahead of the curve in terms of ensuring that its marketing is actually reaching consumers where they are (physically and mentally) – something we as marketers often preach but forget to practice. Without thinking of consumer values first (in this case, environment and convenience), the messaging gets lost. But because of smart marketing by Loop, we think this company’s idea might stick… and lead to packaging innovations from even more global brands.