Packaging Is Killing the Planet—These Start-Ups Offer Luxe, Sustainable Solutions


There’s a common thought that for a brand to be sustainable, it has to sacrifice something along the way. Maybe it’s a certain material, or a slice of the profit, or a sense of luxury. But why do we operate under that assumption? Maybe it would help to take the word sustainable out of the conversation; it’s been overused and abused enough that few consumers really understand what it means. Here are some better words for it: timeless, resilient, durable. Those instantly sound a lot more appealing. And to make something timeless or durable—whether it’s a glass bottle or a dress—you’ll inevitably select the best materials, the best craftsmen, the best technology.

That’s the realization Tom Szaky, the CEO of TerraCycle came to when he and his team were dreaming up their latest venture, Loop, an e-commerce platform that will offer familiar single-use products—dish soap, shampoo, beverages—in reusable, re-fillable packages. “[At TerraCycle] we’ve been recycling materials and making products out of recycled materials for 16 years, but we got to this reflection point where we asked ourselves, ‘Is what we’re doing the solution to waste?’ ” he explains. “Recycling is a solution to the system of waste, but not the root cause. It’s like taking Tylenol every morning because you have a migraine. The Tylenol is a solution to the symptom, but you aren’t solving the reason you have a migraine.”

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