Reusable containers and packaging eliminate the need for single-use plastic items in all sectors. 

TARGET USERS: Individuals, Businesses, Industry, Government

KEY CONSIDERATIONS: Globally, replacing just 20% of single-use plastic packaging with reusable alternatives offers an opportunity worth at least USD 10 billion. Reuse models can bring major user and business benefits including superior user experiences, user insights, brand loyalty, and cost savings.


    Collections: BEST PRACTICES, REUSE


    Single-use plastic items are rarely recyclable, and thus fails to capture the economic benefits of a 'circular' approach. These plastic materials often leak into the environment, and contribute to ocean pollution.



    Innovative reuse models can unlock significant benefits, enabled by digital technologies and shifting user preferences. Such models can help deliver a superior user experience, customize products to individual needs, gather user insights, build brand loyalty, optimize operations, and save costs. Imagine a luxurious, durable ice cream container that keeps the ice cream frozen for hours outside the fridge which is delivered and picked up in a subscription model. It’s convenient, has a better look and feel, and keeps customers coming back.

    Reusable packaging is a critical part of the solution to eliminate plastic pollution. As part of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, over 350 organizations have recognized that, wherever relevant, reuse business models should be explored to reduce the need for single-use plastic packaging. 

    Globally, replacing just 20% of single-use plastic packaging with reusable alternatives offers an opportunity worth at least USD 10 billion. Reuse models can bring major user and business benefits including superior user experiences, user insights, brand loyalty, and cost savings.

    Reuse presents an innovation opportunity to change the way we think about packaging from something that’s simply as inexpensive and light as possible to viewing it as a high value asset that can deliver significant benefits to users and businesses.

    Reuse models can:

    Cut costs - Packaging and transportation costs can be reduced by supplying refills for reusable containers in compact form, such as in concentrates or solids e.g. as tablets.

    Build brand loyalty - Brand loyalty and customer retention can be achieved through deposit and reward schemes for reusable packaging.

    Adapt to individual needs - Individual needs can be accommodated by reuse models that let users mix and match flavors, personalize packaging or choose desired quantities.

    Improve user experience - User experience can be improved by enhancing the look, feel or functionality of reusable packaging (which can be more high-end as its initial production cost is divided over many uses).

    Optimize operations - Economies of scale for distribution and logistics can be achieved through sharing reusable packaging across brands, sectors or wider networks.

    Gather intelligence - Information on user preferences and system performance can be gathered by incorporating digital technologies such as RFID tags, sensors, and GPS tracking into the reusable packaging system.

    Business-to-consumer reuse models differ in terms of packaging ‘ownership’ and the requirement for the user to leave home to refill/return the packaging. The four refill models include: 

    1. Refill at home – users refill their reusable container at home with refills delivered through a subscription service.


    1. Refill on the go – users refill their reusable container away from home at an in-store dispensing system.


    1. Return from home – packaging is picked up from home by a pick-up service.


    1. Return on the go – users return the packaging at a store or drop-off point.


    Source: Reuse, Rethinking Packaging, Ellen Macarthur Foundation



    Alternatives to reusable packaging include edible packaging.



    Loop is a global circular shopping platform designed to eliminate the idea of waste by transforming the products and packaging of everyday items from single-use to durable, multi-use, feature-packed designs. In partnership with major brands and retailers, Loop is launching in the Mid-Atlantic United States and Paris and is in the process of expanding across the United States and internationally, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and Japan.

    Here’s how it works:

    • Shop for leading brands, now reimagined to be waste free and exclusively available through Loop. There are no monthly membership fees or subscriptions - just pay a small fully refundable one-time deposit to borrow the package.
    • Receive your durable products in our exclusively designed Loop Tote, a breakthrough zero-waste delivery system that eliminates disposable, single-use shipping materials. Say goodbye to that stack of cardboard boxes, bubble-wrap and ice packs!
    • Enjoy products redesigned with innovative new features, unparalleled materials, and counter-worthy aesthetics. Designing for reuse allows our product partners to completely reinvent what packaging and products should look and feel like, and even what they can do.
    • No need to trash, recycle, or clean - as you finish enjoying your products, simply place your used products back into the Loop Tote and schedule a free pick up from your home.
    • Loop’s state-of-the-art cleaning technology hygienically cleans the empty packages you send back so that they are ready for reuse. You also have the option to set your favorite products to “auto-refill when returned”, so that you never have to worry about adding them to your shopping list.

    See more at


    Recircle is a Swiss social enterprise funded in 2016 to provide a sustainable alternative to disposable containers for food to go: a system of reusable lunch boxes that restaurants can offer on a deposit scheme. So far, 70,000 Recircle boxes are being used by more than 400 restaurants in Switzerland and in Stuttgart, Germany.

    The restaurants go through a three-month trial period before joining the scheme, where they are given the chance to promote the sustainable option to gauge customer response. The vast majority of restaurants stays with Recircle after the trial period, and that is because of the potential savings the scheme can have both from waste management and from avoiding the purchase of single – use plastic containers.

    In order to use the Recircle lunch box, customers must pay a 10 Swiss Francs deposit, which can be done either by cash or by buying a member’s card. Customers can then either return the box to any of the restaurants that are part of the scheme and get their deposit back, or reuse the lunch box for their next order. For now, most restaurants offer the reusable boxes as a complementary service to disposable containers.

    The local government seems to play a very important role too. In the case of Switzerland, and more specifically Bern, the aim of the local government is to reduce waste and littering, and ultimately cut the costs of collecting and disposing of single–use non-recyclable food containers every day. Receiving direct support from municipalities fosters Recircle’s outreach, by increasing the project’s credibility and consistency. 

    Even though Recircle’s initiative has had a great start, there are still challenges that prevent the project from becoming the mainstream option rather than a “sustainable alternative”. For instance, disposable food containers are still offered free of charge to the consumer and are too cheap for restaurants to obtain.

    Recircle transforms take-away restaurants. In two years, more than 400 restaurants across Switzerland are already using Recircle’s 70,000 reusable meal boxes.

    See case study here.

    Globelet builds technology enabled systems that produce reusable products that are trackable and can be linked back to their factories to be washed and reused. From branded reusable fan cups and water bottles to coffee cups and stemless wine cups, any event can end single-use plastic drinking products in favor of reuse. By combining the reusable cup with a deposit scheme, patrons can either return the cup to collect their refundable deposit, or keep the cup for continued use.

    Twickenham Stadium introduced the Re-usable Fan Cup as a solution to the flimsy disposables previously used. During an international event more than 140,000 pints of beer are served, which resulted in 140,000 cups being thrown away in a day and drinks were constantly being spilt due to the flimsy material. Now, not only do the Fan Cups help to make us a more sustainable venue, they have also become a souvenir for visitors on a match day.

    See more case studies by visiting: 

    See 69 other reuse examples by downloading the report at

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