Users purchase a product in a reusable container and return the packaging to a store or drop-off point after use. The packaging is either cleaned where it is returned (e.g., at a retail site) or a business or service provider takes care of the cleaning and redistribution of the packaging (3).
Note: High in this instance implies the solution is highly applicable to the plastic type. Medium indicates potential to apply this solution to the relevant plastic type in some cases. Low implies major barriers and, generally speaking, this solution cannot be used in conjunction with the plastic type.
Many examples of successful reuse programs for plastic packaging are currently from outside the U.S. However, more U.S. case studies are emerging and will be included in the future. The following are used for general information and illustrative purposes and do not reflect a preference of or an endorsement by The Recycling Partnership or our affiliates or vendors.
National deposit return systems: Many countries, including Germany, Norway, and Denmark, already operate national deposit return systems.
(1) Closed Loop Partners, IDEO: Bringing Reusable Packaging Systems to Life. Lessons Learned from Testing Reusable Cups. (Link)
(2) Ellen MacArthur Foundation: Reuse. Rethinking Packaging. (Link)
(3) Ellen MacArthur Foundation: Upstream Innovation. A guide to packaging solutions. (Link)
(4) Zero Waste Europe & Reloop: Reusable vs single-use packaging. (Link)
(5) EMF Upstream Online Guide. (Link)