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In the Loop

And the Reusie goes to…

A recap of the awards honoring the people, communities and organizations bringing reuse solutions for consumer packaging and products to the world at large.

The Generation Conscious detergent refill system.

Source: Generation Conscious

The lights dimmed. An awed hush settled across the crowd. All eyes were trained on the imposing stage in front of the room. 

Sipping eagerly at my coffee — admittedly, fighting to keep the exhaustion of three delightfully jam-packed days at bay — I was in the waning hours of Circularity 23 and about to witness the third annual Reusies awards. 

The Oscars of the reuse movement

Born from the idea that reuse should be celebrated and center stage, the Reusies are an award ceremony honoring the people, communities and organizations bringing reuse solutions for consumer packaging and products to the world at large. 

Founded and presented by Upstream — a nonprofit sparking innovative solutions to plastic pollution — the Reusies honor the undeniable environmental benefits reusables can enable. 

A colossal amount of resources go into creating single-use packaging — to the tune of 10 percent of wood harvested, 20 percent of aluminum mined, 40 percent of plastic created and 50 percent of glass produced. Considering the waste alone, Upstream’s 2021 landmark report bears repeating: "Reuse wins."

This year, the Reusies dished out seven awards to revelry and applause as part of Circularity 23’s programming. Marking the first in-person ceremony in the Reusies’ three-year history, the Reusies found an apt backdrop in the host city of Seattle — a pioneer in scaling reusable-systems-change and this year’s winner of the award for The Community Action of the Year for Building Reuse.

As a self-proclaimed reuse fanatic with the distinct pleasure of acting as a Reusies judge for the second year in a row, I want to take this moment to celebrate my favorite awards: The Most Innovative Reuse Companies of 2023 across three categories. Each of this year's crop of winners shows clear pathways to scale, places equity and inclusion front and center and offers tremendous promise for the future of reuse. 

Without further ado, the Reusies go to…. 

The 3 Most Innovative Reuse Companies of 2023

In Consumer Packaged Goods

  • The winner: Generation Conscious

  • The solution: Generation Conscious refill vending machines dispense water-free detergent sheets, enabling zero-waste laundering for consumers. In just two years, its solution reported saving 154 tons of carbon emissions, 32,000 plastic jugs and 4.8 tons of water at partnering universities, multi-family buildings and commercial real estate developments.

  • What excites me: A first-generation, Black-led company, Generation Conscious features equity and inclusion as core to its operations. It employs local, low-income workers, reinvests surplus profits into BIPOC and queer-led fellowships and strives for a paradigm shift that makes reuse accessible.

  • The runners-up: Returnity and Revolusation

In Food and Beverage

  • The winner: ReDish

  • The solution: With reusable food containers, washing facilities and tracking software, ReDish offers reuse-as-a-service for foodservice operations at companies, schools, venues and municipalities. In 2022, ReDish said it diverted 32,000 pounds of waste, saved 65,000 gallons of water and reduced CO2-equivalent emissions by 47,000 kilograms, helping clients reach their ESG goals. 

  • What excites me: With custom-made, large-scale washing facilities, ReDish is investing in essential reuse infrastructure that can wash 100,000 reusable containers a day — making reuse truly scalable. 

  • The runners-up: Boomerang Water and DeliverZero

In Fashion and Apparel

  • The winner: Bleckmann (The Renewal Workshop)

  • The solution: From collecting to cleaning to resale, the Renewal Workshop offers an end-to-end service for apparel companies entering the resale market. The company said that over six years, it prevented the use of 686,000 pounds of toxic chemicals and 99 million gallons of water, and the release of 693 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. 

  • What excites me: As one of the first movers and shakers in apparel resale, the Renewal Workshop saw a need in the market to tackle the rapidly growing textile waste stream. Its 2022 acquisition by Bleckmann, a supply chain logistics company, only highlights the solution’s importance and viability. 

  • The runners-up: alternew and Treet

A round of applause for all the winners

Beyond celebrating innovative reuse companies, the Reusies dished out four additional awards: 

  • Activist of the Year: Daniel Vukelich is tackling the thorny challenge of reuse in the medical industry, helping to cycle $468 million worth of traditionally single use medical devices for reuse at over 10,500 hospitals.  

  • Community Action of the Year — Building Reuse: The nonprofit Reuse Seattle is creating a replicable blueprint for city-wide reuse systems through a robust variety of public-private partnerships and initiatives. The city offers reuse at more than 20 venues, created incentives for 250 businesses to make the switch and is working to establish a citywide standard for reusables.  

  • Community Action of the Year — Policy: The Town of Banff passed a single-use item reduction strategy and bylaw in 2023. Among the first of its kind in Canada, the rule prioritizes reduction and reuse in the unique setting of a tourist-heavy enclave, while amplifying reusables to its many visitors. 

  • Honorary Corporate Initiative of the Year: Clorox recently launched a refillable multi-purpose, cleaning spray bottle, reducing plastic by 80 percent throughout the products’ lifespan while bringing reuse to the average consumer. With category transformation on the horizon, Clorox’s vision is to scale far beyond this one product launch.

I hope you’ll join me in a hearty round of applause for "the pioneers, the trailblazers, the innovators and game-changing heroes" who, as Upstream puts it, "are developing a better way than throw-away."

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