UPS and TerraCycle partner to close the loop

TerraCycle has unveiled Loop, a circular e-commerce platform it designed with UPS.

United Parcel Service (UPS), Atlanta, has joined the coalition of international recycling leader TerraCycle, Trenton, New Jersey, to unveil a new reusable and returnable system for managing consumer product packaging. The system, called Loop, will be tested in Paris and New York as a first step toward full implementation in consumer markets, UPS says in a press release.

UPS says the Loop system breaks through the reliance on single-use packaging for consumer goods. Consumers will be offered a variety of products in customized, brand-specific durable packaging that is delivered directly to customers, then collected, cleaned, refilled and redelivered.

“Loop will not just eliminate the idea of packaging waste, but greatly improve the product experience and shopping convenience,” says TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky.

Loop products will be delivered and picked up via a system designed by TerraCycle and UPS, representing the latest advances in TerraCycle’s long-standing partnership with UPS, the company says.

“Innovation is key to everything we do at UPS, and we are thrilled to support TerraCycle with packaging design for the Loop tote, as well as pickup and delivery services for Loop customers,” says UPS Chief Sales and Solutions Officer Kate Gutmann. “As a leader in environmental sustainability, and a champion and catalyst for a circular economy, UPS looks forward to helping to bring Loop to life.”

Loop customers will receive durable, reusable or fully recyclable packaging made from materials such as alloys, glass and engineered plastics. Even the outer shipping container is part of the revamped design; a shipping tote will eliminate the need for single-use boxes and offer consumers an attractive solution that reduces waste.

The UPS Package Design and Test Lab

UPS and TerraCycle collaborated to design outer packaging with protective dividers inside that can handle liquids, dry goods and personal care products. The tote is made with materials that offer easy cleaning for reuse. The UPS Package Design and Test Lab helped to custom-design and test packaging to be appealing to consumers, yet durable enough to be used time and again. UPS says its lab is certified by the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) to conduct ISTA package integrity testing procedures.  During the design and testing, UPS says it identified solutions to mitigate the following:

  • Materials breakdowns
  • Product leaks
  • Exterior packaging design that showed signs of fatigue after limited use
  • Scratches on metal containers caused by metal closures

Recommendations provided by the UPS lab to TerraCycle included multi-threaded closures for product containers, a modified capping approach to reduce the risk of leaking products and custom dividers within the Loop tote to better hold products in place during transit, among others.

Additionally, UPS says its Package Design and Test Lab implemented rigorous real-world shipment tests to gather insights into how the durable and reusable Loop tote could withstand high-volume shipping through UPS’s network of global distribution facilities. “UPS helped TerraCycle to design the exterior and interior of the Loop tote container in ways we could never have done ourselves. Expert UPS testing also helped us to provide feedback to Loop consumer packaged goods partners regarding the primary packaging of products within the tote,” says Tiffany Threadgould of TerraCycle.

UPS says the pilot tests planned for Paris and New York in 2019 will help refine the process, with additional feedback from consumer experience data.

Decades of packaging design

UPS Package Engineering Manager Quint Marini oversees the UPS Package Design and Test Lab in Addison, Illinois, and the team of packaging engineers who help UPS customers optimize and protect their goods and reduce waste by implementing better packaging solutions. Marini and the UPS Lab team hold five packaging design patents and have established test practices and solutions to address an array of needs, including cold-chain packaging for food and pharmaceutical companies.

UPS says its Package Design and Test Lab’s specialized equipment mimics the “shake, rattle and roll” effect of high-speed conveyors found in transportation hubs and on commercial delivery vehicles. In addition to evaluating for durability, the lab engineers also evaluate packaging materials to identify stable, efficient, environmentally-conscious solutions.

To use Loop, customers must go to the Loop website,, or Loop partner retailer’s websites to shop.


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