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The amount of plastic each individual in Japan produces is ranked second largest in the world with the country discarding a total of 9,150,000 tons of plastic waste annually and to tackle this, Japanese supermarket Aeon has partnered with circular packaging startup Loop to sell products in reusable packaging and bring down the enormous waste of single-use plastic.
Founded by Franco/U.S.-based recycling company TerraCycle, Loop has partnered with Aeon to encourage refillable packaging systems in their retail outlets. The alliance has garnered the support of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government that wants to promote the “three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle)” to create better sustainable foundations for consumers across the city.
Aeon will ditch its traditionally used disposable containers and packages for daily consumption items like foods, detergents and shampoos that lead to unnecessary waste and fuel the effects of climate change. Instead, the partnership will now see these very items in new sustainable packaging like stainless steel and glass that are not only highly durable but can be used multiple times.
Priced slightly higher than normal products, consumers first purchase these Loop products in a reusable package and after they have finished using the product, they can drop the used container in the Loop return box at any Aeon store. Once the system collects the container and confirms it is the very same container, in two weeks’ time they will receive a refund that will include the amount of the deposit plus the consumption tax of the container that will be credited to your bank account through the Loop app anywhere between Yen¥110 (approx. US$1.01) and Yen¥880 (approx. US$8.08) depending on the product.
Next, a specialized company will clean the returned item and send them back to manufacturers that will take the packages and make it ready for use again.
Initially, Aeon has launched 13 products by 6 manufacturers in Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture and Chiba districts with plans to add more products by the end of August 2021.
With this new initiative, Aeon is the only domestic retailer that can handle products from Loop for around one year from the beginning of sales.
The supermarket chain even partnered with the Hong Kong-based environmental charity Greeners Action to give customers coupons and discounts if they carry their won reusables and avoid the use of single-use plastic items when they order from in-store food outlets. The NGO had recently called the disposable trend in Hong Kong a “plastic disaster” given that a study showed that every week, Hong Kongers use 100 million disposable plastic takeaway items.
Apart from this, Aeon has been involved in several environmental conservation activities like ‘Bringing Shopping Bags Campaign’ and the collection of food trays and PET bottles.
At the moment, Loop is even working with fast food chain Burger King to switch to reusables, beauty retail giant Ulta Beauty and retail behemoth Carrefour in Paris to sell their beauty products and groceries respectively in refillable packaging.
Lead image courtesy of Loop.