Welcome back to another rundown of our latest ‘Igniting Change’ podcast! For episode #4 we were so excited to sit down and chat with Marc Violo, Head of Marketing for Loop and tech and reuse enthusiast!
Loop is a global platform for reuse. We collaborate with brands and manufacturers to enable refillable versions of their conventional single-use products, and partner with leading retailers to embed these offerings into their online eCommerce and physical retail stores. We’re working with category-leading brands, retailers, restaurants, and more to activate a circular reuse ecosystem offering thousands of products – from your cup of coffee to your shampoo bottle – with an aim to make reuse as convenient and accessible as single-use.
They are in the USA, France, UK, Japan and Canada and gaining more partners all the time to close the single-use loop.
The work they are doing to use tech to close this single-use plastic use is so interesting and Rich and I couldn’t wait to dive in and get the down-low on the work that Loop are doing!
(To hear the full episode, follow the links to listen on your preferred platform below:)
How do we get consumers to change their behaviour to live more sustainably with Loop?
The key success factor to any reuse scheme is changing behaviours. It’s the hardest thing you can do, especially so when it’s behaviours that are so ingrained in all of us. We buy, use and bin it and since that is the norm, we don’t think beyond breaking that cycle.
We don’t have all the answers and feel as though we are learning all the time what our users want and the best way to engage with them. What we do know, is that the environmental benefit is a driver, it’s not the main driver but a benefit to the overall more enjoyable experience when you participate with the Loop scheme. With the convenience that’s offered by using us, and the fact that the price is comparable to other products on the shelves, we are inherently changing that behaviour to make the more sustainable choice time and time again.
When talking about climate change, it’s intangible to expect consumers to be driven to make that change all day every day. From our morning coffee to lunchtime sandwiches, we’ve learned that it needs to come from a different place than this “good for the environment” but needs to be something that feels convenient, comfortable and cost-effective.
Amazingly Tesco has agreed to price match all of the 88 products that are in the Loop corner. So every single one is priced the exact same as the comparable single-use items!
Do you think there should be more of a focus on the reuse for differing forms of consumption?
There is no better action than to just reduce overall consumption!
Thinking about the fashion industry, if you can avoid buying something – do it! We all know the havoc that fast fashion is wrecking on the environment, so try and ask yourself, “DO I REALLY NEED IT?” Taking the time to have a quick check-in to see if your purchase is a need or a want is really easy, yet very powerful.
That is a start!
Recycling is good for the items that have high levels of actually being recycled (ie glass, aluminium) but it does feel like just putting a band-aid on an open wound. There is so much plastic generated, with only 12-15% actually being recycled so really focusing on reuse yields the best results for living life more sustainably.
There are two great benefits to reuse:
#1- You are obviously preventing a second package to be created and then potentially ending up in a landfill and being recycled. I don’t want to slate recycling – it’s great but it ain’t perfect. With the low number of items actually being recycled, to the energy being expended to recycle it is flawed. By your reuse, there is less plastic being churned out.
#2- Carbon emission reduction is another benefit. The first time you created that glass bottle, with that single bottle you are generating carbon dioxide emissions. But but using that bottle even a second time, you are halving that impact on the environment!
The three “R’s” are definitely very important. Reduction is a personal lifestyle choice and harder to make the vast majority embrace it, where reuse is the most effective way to close that intention action gap and make a difference with your sustainable choices.
Why do the barriers exist in the intention action gap?
The biggest learning from me was to realise that the good I want to create in the world in the long term, has to be coupled with something shorter term that also brings me benefit. Otherwise, it’s hard to make that long term choice and ignore that shorter-term discomfort. So to be able to give something people want and a carbon and energy literate outcome happen, as a result, is the perfect storm of alignment. Of course, it is REALLY hard to get right!
There is a behavioural barrier where it is just finding a way to have sustainable decisions happening at scale. The most likely way of that happening is by having it be automatic. No barriers or sticking points, everyone is in the same pot and are able to minimise the action gap by not having to take many actions at all – it’s just the norm.
Behaviour change is more important than us just reducing our footprints. We need to change the diffuse problems.
There is also a technical barrier. Not every home is smart, nor does every home want to be. The pathway to getting it to be easier is a technical journey. Some of the technologies aren’t *quite* there yet and some of the interoperability isn’t there. Which all chalks up to just the ease at which we are all able to use these solutions. It needs to be so simple and straightforward that it doesn’t involve much thought and we just aren’t there yet.
Your Loop products are in Tesco, prices the same as other ones in the shop, why would people NOT buy your product and go for the reuse?!
One aspect would be because it is new.
We are all creatures of habit, and breaking those habits proves easier said than done! There are early adopters and people that quickly see the benefit of Loop and pivot to accommodate the products into their shopping. Unfortunately, for now, that is a very small percentage of the population.
Another reason would be, the deposit. You are required to put a (fully refunded) deposit down, but it does mean that at the till you have that amount less out of your pocket. So this does make it more difficult for people to access with lower disposable income.
And this isn’t just me tooting the Loop horn, but I don’t see any other reason why you wouldn’t! The products are great because of the environmental virtues but enable new features for products we know and love! So for our Loop Haagen Das container, it is stainless steel with an air vacuum between the ice cream and the container packaging, which allows for the ice cream to stay ice cold for 5 hours outside of the fridge.
You are still paying the same price for your ice cream, but the packaging is sleek and you are getting enhanced benefits that the normal container doesn’t come near offering. For brands, it gives the chance to turn their packaging into an asset and the opportunity to invest in the packaging and build something that is as sturdy as possible so it’s split into the most life cycles.
Do you believe a circular economy is possible and what needs to happen for us to move away from the current linear model?
A circular economy is absolutely possible! We are seeing elements of a circular economy through the development of leasing models. So from cars, ink cartridges and computers, removing the ownership from the consumer onto the manufacturer. If that shift happens, then it’s in the best interest of the manufacturer to build great, long-lasting products.
We’re getting there slowly but surely. It’s going to take time, a lot of head-scratching and deep partnership efforts to come to life. We need to de-optimise and rebuild the global supply chain that has been optimised for the past 50 years by people that had the one goal in mind to make the best linear model possible. Scratch that, it’s a new brief, let’s transform that line into a beautiful circle!
And we have technology on our side. We are much better equipped than we were 20 years ago to build a circular economy. It’ll take a shift in mindset, and the largest companies on the planet to get involved for a circular economy to become the norm.
What was it that made you change your behaviour?
I used to work in technology, and back in the day, it had the one goal to connect people and add value to their lives. That changed over to “how can we monetise people’s lives”?
Being a part of selling products that are given zero thought to what happens to that product once money is exchanged didn’t sit right with me. The amount of products that are being sold and the responsibility of the manufacturer stops once they sell it to the customer, it was my eureka moment that I and everyone else needed to change our mindset.
Another great episode for the books! We loved chatting with Marc and if you are keen to be a part of our podcast, please do shout us a holla.
You can listen to the episode in its entirety here: