By Eric Schaffner, Founder of ZeLoop: Circular Economy Reward Platform
Q: In 2019, you founded a block-chain app, called ZeLoop that is a great and “fun” solution for raising awareness about plastic pollution and diverting waste from landfill. It rewards citizens for their eco-friendly actions with a focus on collecting used plastic bottles. How was this idea born?
The idea results from a combination of situations. Coming from the packaging industry, I could see the growing concern about plastic pollution and pollution in general. I wanted to do something about it. I invested in the first start-up of my partners, where the block chain reward engine was developed, which we use for ZeLoop platform now. Sharing the same values and willingness to help changing habits in society, health and sustainability, we wanted to do more. Two years later, sensitive to the growing issue of plastic pollution, we decided to found ZeLoop, an innovative Circular Economy Rewarding Platform to make our planet healthier. The first mobile APP was released a year later in July 2020 worldwide to incentivize consumers for not littering plastic bottles.
Q: Tell us more about the circularity behind ZeLoop.
Circular economies are trendy and often presented as the solution to reduce human’s production impact on our planet. When one study the cycle involving stakeholders of, for instance, the circular economy of plastic bottles, we can see several challenges:
- A conflict of opinion between producers, retailers and consumers on who should take care of the waste generated by consumption.
- A lack of focus on the consumers
- A lack of agility towards consumers by the waste management companies and recycling companies who are B2B oriented so not so familiar to deal with end-users.
This is where ZeLoop plays a key role. We focus on consumers, rewarding them for participating to the circular economy for a higher collection rate that will benefit the downstream waste management & recycling industries while providing a neutral voice to consumers for brand owners and empowering businesses and institution to embodying consumers in pro-environmental behavior.
Q: You spent years working in the packaging industry for one of the leading service solution provider, for beverage, food, home and personal care products packaging. Considering the end-customers’ changing mind-set and a commitment to meet their expectation, what were the latest trends and solutions when it comes to packaging?
Across all material we can see several common trends:
- Change of regulations give better framework
- New designs to reduce the amount of material used
- Increase the recyclability
- Find new source to produce the material with less fossil resources
- Circular economy loops product to product
- Turn non-recyclable packaging into biodegradable to minimize the impact of its end of life
- Make the packaging reusable
Q: Did you see in your career demand for packaging material reduction across supply chain? Is this possible?
Yes, this is on the agenda for all packaging producer. Less material means less cost. On bottles, plastic ones are the one we witnessed the main reduction over the last 20 years. A 0,5l water bottle used to be around 13g, now 6-7g is common with not so much loss of functionality. A glass bottle or an aluminium can has not lost so much during the same period. On beverage cartons, we see more trends to reduce the complexity of the packaging with reduction of layers.
Q: What about reusable / circular packaging solutions? Can you name any at your knowledge or experience?
Glass is circular for long with a preferred path on collecting, grinding, melting. PET is more and more recycled with regulations like- the Single Use directive in Europe- since January 2021. This directive imposes all producers to integrate at least 25% of recycled PET (rPET) in their production by 2025 and 30% by 2030.
Q: What are your thoughts about the raise of new materials and innovations to replace single use plastics and other traditional materials?
Replacing plastics made from non-renewable resources by renewables ones is good providing the production mode doesn’t take land to produce human food. But if we don’t change the habit of people we will only change the type of material that is polluting our planet. So the use of single-use or multiple-use renewable plastic should not become a “permit to litter”.