New Food Delivery Service Offers Brand Names In Reusable Containers

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TORONTO — Canada’s first modern-day milkman service that delivers brand-name groceries and household goods to doorsteps in reusable packaging is set to launch in the Toronto region on Monday.

Loop, an online shopping platform started by U.S.-based recycling company TerraCycle, has teamed up with grocery giant Loblaw Companies Ltd. and leading consumer goods companies like Kraft Heinz Canada to roll out the service in the city.

Everyday essentials such as Heinz ketchup, Nature’s Path cereal or Haagen-Dazs ice cream — usually purchased in single-use containers — will be available in refillable containers, usually glass or metal, and delivered in reusable totes.

The delivery service, already available through Carrefour in France, Kroger and Walgreens in the U.S. and Tesco in the U.K., aims to reduce single-use plastics and waste from household goods.

“The milkman model has faded from most people’s mindset, but this is a great example where you look to the past and see a great opportunity to solve a problem,” said Ian Gordon, Loblaw’s senior vice-president of plastic waste reduction. 

Much like how milk was delivered door-to-door before the rise of disposable cartons, refrigerators and the automobile, products ordered online through Loop are delivered to customer doorsteps. 

When the item is finished, empty containers are placed back in a Loop tote, where they are picked up, sanitized, refilled and shipped out to customers again. 

“Loop is a platform for reuse where consumer product companies can create reusable versions of their products, and then retailers can then make those available to their consumers,” Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle and Loop.

While the service is starting exclusively online in the Toronto area, the goal is to eventually expand across the country and make the reusable containers available in grocery stores.

“That’s when the volume really goes nuts,” he said. “Reuse can work at scale. We’ve just got to make it as easy and convenient as throwing something in the garbage.”

While package-free stores already exist in Canada, Szaky said Loop is trying to make it easier to shop sustainably on a bigger scale. 

“We’re focused very much on the masses and creating system change,” he said. “You can buy off the shelf and return whenever you want and we get the dirty containers and worry about sorting and cleaning.”