MUUSE, McLoop, Packaging Rating: September 2020 Reusables Roundup

Big brands, little brands - everybody loves contactless reusables (and the Apps that support them). Here are some highlights from September 2020:

Although party sizes have been decreased due to COVID regulations, people still want to use reusables.

For DreamZero, September saw slightly higher numbers of small events (10-20 people, as per local COVID regulations), while patios continued to serve our rented plates and cups. We've been working with few vendors behind the scenes, helping them create their own store branded programs, more on these in the coming months :) We've also been working with various orgs and government health departments to understand how we can better help the food and beverage industry embrace reusables.

We are happy to announce that we've signed on in support of the Sustainable Event Alliance's effort to define "Global Reusables at Events Hygiene Best Practice" document. The scope of the document is to focus on addressing any potential hygiene concerns and supporting event organizers and suppliers with consistently implementing reusables at events to a global best practice standard. In light of COVID-19 concerns, SEA feels the reusables industry needs to better communicate how it works to protect customers health through its washing and tracking practices, and that the SEA efforts are of utmost importance at this time.

Also, over the past few months we've been working closely with MUUSE to establish a business relationship where DreamZero can effectively represent them and make their program available to Canadian consumers coast to coast. An official press release will be issued soon. We couldn't be happier to represent MUUSE as they have shown very positive progress with their tech, their container choices and their market integration.

On the topic of MUUSE...

MUUSE made a few announcements about their new membership model and delivery options recently.

Their membership model works like this: Customers (MUUSErs) get access to cups and containers at a low monthly or annual subscription. If you do not return your containers within a 2 week period then you are penalized with a fee to cover the cost of the lost container. They do seem to be very keen at getting those containers back and have worked in a few ways to help customer return the containers easily and conveniently.

Here are some screen shots for how it works...

MUUSE has also announced a partnership with GrabFood, the food delivery app. Consumers can now log on to GrabFood App, pick their favourite restaurant, and add a container on as a menu item. MUUSErs are then expected to return their containers to a participating restaurant for cleaning and check-in.

It's very exciting to see how well developed MUSSE's system is and we look forward to learning about new developments as they continue to grow around the world and especially here in Canada :)

There's a few other programs that have made the news recently with their own developments.

DishCraft Robotics, announced $20M of funding back in May, during the initial COVID lockdown. Since, they've pivoted to include the rental and washing service of takeaway containers. These containers are a basic bowl and snap lid design made from white polypropylene plastic. They were a quick response to the lockdown and the loss of business DishCraft experienced from restaurants no longer seating patrons. The containers do not have the signature magnet embedded into them as the restaurant and catering plates do. Although this makes them lighter, they are not compatible with their robot washing units. Word is, that this robotics company is actually washing these containers... by hand! Oh the irony :)

Also from California, Zero Grocery recently announced that it has raised $3M towards its reusable packaging delivery service. Touted as the first "Online Zero Waste Grocery Store", Zero Grocery service provides reusable containers and plastic free delivery to consumers in the San Francisco area. Consumers pay $25 per month to take part in the service, although nonmembers can pay $7.99 per delivery.

Dispatch Goods, also out of California, has now served 7000 meals with their stainless steel containers and have recently expanded their operations team to 7. The program requires a $1.50 per item fee at time of ordering, or a $20/month membership fee. Once the food has been picked up in the Dispatch Goods container, they text with their address and Dispatch Goods will come to pick the used container up from the customers house! Then Dispatch washes the containers at their facility and redistributes them back to the restaurants.

More on Dispatch Goods by You’re generating so much waste with your food deliveries. What if it came in reusable containers instead?

Loop and McDonalds UK announced they've joined forces to launch a reusable coffee cup in 2021. This is not the first time McDonalds has ventured into the reusable cup arena. As part of the Next Gen Cup Competition in 2019, McDonalds had partnered with ReCup, and was awarded as one of the finalists. Here's how this trial worked:

  1. Customers pay a deposit of 1 euro to receive their McDonald’s drink in a reusable carry out cup,

  2. Customers hold the cup for as long as they like,

  3. When they want to return the cup they simply return it to any restaurant that’s participating in the program to get their 1 euro back.

  4. Because the program was not strictly a McDonald’s solution, people can technically return their cups elsewhere – which makes it more convenient for our customers but has less of a "loyalty aspect".

But the McDonalds announcement with Loop will work differently. First, and most obviously, is that McDonalds plans to have their own branded cup instead of sharing ReCups with other retailers.

Not much was said about how their system works, however a few observations can lead us to understand how it'll operate. According to the text on their promo cup design, the steps include:

  1. Order "your favourite drink". So far the messaging provided from McD's only indicates this program is for hot beverages, but TerraCycle and Loop founder Tom Szaky hints at more.

  2. Download the Loop App. So far no Loop App has been officially announced (although I guess this qualifies as that). Another observation is that this is the only program that includes "Download the App" as a intermediary step. Most start with that step, or assume you already have it in place.

  3. Scan the cup once empty. This is an interesting step as there is no mention to this point of connecting the cup to the account until now. You've already ordered your drink and finished it, so I'm assuming that you've put a deposit on the cup at time of order.

  4. Return to Loop Bin. Loop Bins are located at participating retailers of Loop products.

  5. Deposit is refunded in the Loop App. This is what I suspect is the secret sauce to MCDonalds (and more so Loop's) effort. By awarding the deposit in the Loop App, consumers can then choose where they want to spend those funds at participating Loop partners. This helps Loop sell the program as a loyalty program. Smart.

These reusable and plastic free efforts by McD's are not without their backlash though - more than 53,000 people have signed a petition asking McDonald's to bring back the iconic plastic straws. (The campaign creator's reason for his big ask? "So I can drink my milkshake proper.")

LOOP, now in 48 states in the US, has been rapidly expanding its catalog of major brands participating in its reusable packaging program that has been rolling out around the world despite the pandemic. I had the opportunity to see a Loop kit in-person back in November 2019.

JYBE launches an app that helps customers rate restaurants packaging! Yep!! The LA based sustainability web app helps consumers find and order to-go food from restaurants making Earth-friendly packaging choices. Reusable containers? You get credit for that on JYBE.


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