Kroger's New Partnership Could Make Ditching Single-Use Plastic Easier Than Ever

America's largest grocery retailer is taking a small step towards a more sustainable future this week, thanks to some innovative green packaging. In a press release, Kroger announced that it has introduced a line of popular products sold in reusable packaging to 25 Portland-area Fred Meyer grocery stores. The eco-friendly program is offered in partnership with Loop, a circular reuse platform that aims to offer a more sustainable way to shop.

The New Jersey-based company — which launched in 2019 — offers a range of brand name household, grocery, and beauty products sold in reusable, refillable containers (via GreenBiz). Some of the popular brands that Loop customers will be able to purchase in waste-free packaging at select Fred Meyer grocery stores include Clorox, Gerber, Cascade, Stubb's, and Simple Truth, Kroger's in-house brand.

After finishing a product, customers return the empty container to a Loop collection bin within a participating store. Those containers are then sanitized, refilled, and returned to shelves. Customers are asked to put down a small packaging deposit at the time of purchase, which is refunded when the empty container is returned.

"Kroger is committed to achieving lasting positive change for billions of people and for our planet," said Kroger's chief impact officer Keith Daily. "Our pioneering and exclusive partnership with Loop is an illustration of this commitment, and we are honored to be the first grocery retail partner for Loop in the U.S. and work with our brands and consumer packaged goods partners to advance our mission."

Customers will be able to shop major national brands in reusable packaging

While the Kroger partnership with the will be Loop's first foray into a major U.S. grocery chain, the company has previously partnered with international retailers like Carrefour in France, AEON in Japan, and Tesco in the U.K. — which removed half a billion pieces of plastic packaging from stores in 2021, thanks in part to its Loop partnership (via Edie) — to offer reusable containers to shoppers around the world.

The company has also partnered with McDonald's, Burger King, and Tim Hortons locations in the U.K., U.S., and Canada to offer reusable fast food packaging, including returnable hot beverage cups (via The Spoon). Now, by partnering with the U.S.'s favorite grocery store, the sustainability-focused company is poised to reach more consumers than ever. 

"Customers are increasingly seeking out sustainable products and services that fit their lifestyle, and this collection makes it convenient," said Lisa Zwack, Kroger's head of sustainability, in a press release. "As the first grocer in America to offer these products, Kroger is pleased to take another meaningful step toward a world with zero waste."

While the eco-friendly anti-packaging movement has gained serious momentum in recent years, most single-use plastic-free retail shopping has only been offered at small, boutique markets that are inaccessible to many living in the U.S. (via New York Times). Although Kroger's partnership with Loop is launching on a small scale, the potential for further expansion into grocery stores nationwide could provide a pathway to waste-free shopping for Americans everywhere.