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How closed loop systems are key to a sustainable future

Mark Fenton
Mark Fenton, chief business officer, SodaStream U.S.

You may have noticed that the term "sustainability" has become a big buzzword these days.

And it's an industry trend that, fortunately, doesn't seem to be losing steam. From fashion houses to beverage brands, businesses are seeking out innovative ways to produce reusable products without depleting natural resources by using renewable sources of energy and reducing their carbon footprint—all while maintaining ethical business practices that extend beyond the physical environment, i.e., promoting equality and inclusion in the workplace.

Of course, the growing trend—and the corporate response to it—has been heavily influenced by climate change as well as the awareness and socio-economic changes prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. But what's keeping it going?

According to recent research, the sustainability movement is mainly driven by consumer demand. In the 2021 Global Sustainability Study, 85% of people said they've shifted their purchasing habits toward more sustainable products in the past five years—and more than one-third of the population is willing to pay more to get them. But sustainability isn't just an investment in our companies; it's an investment in our planet.

So as more companies commit to more environmentally-friendly and ethical practices to give consumers what they want, the question becomes, how do we make sustainability, well, sustainable? The answer lies in closed loop systems. Here is how restructuring global commerce to a circular model can create a more sustainable future for our planet.

What is a closed loop system? 

A closed loop system, a.k.a. a circular system or economy, is a way to reduce or eliminate waste, as products and materials can be used to create new products. We use a circular system at SodaStream. Once consumers finish a CO2 cylinder, they can exchange for a fresh one online or in-store at participating retailers nationwide.

That CO2 cylinder is then shipped back to a plant to be cleaned, filled, and sealed for reuse. The focus of our closed loop system is reusability and regeneration through every step of the supply chain. Conversely, with an open loop system, materials and products have a very limited lifespan and ultimately end up as waste.

We can see how circular systems work in other industries, including fashion. According to, a staggering 85% of textiles end up in a landfill on a yearly basis in America. To reduce that statistic, fashion subscription brand, For Days, collects used garments that are then chopped up and spun into yarn to make new fabric. 

The sustainable label Reformation has a program that allows buyers to return worn merchandise for a credit toward new stuff. The old clothing is turned into fibers for new products.

Many well-known food and beverage, personal care, and household products are also available via the e-commerce and in-person retailer LOOP, created by TerraCycle, a global company specializing in tackling hard-to-recycle waste. Through this waste-free shopping platform, consumers can purchase their favorite products in reusable packaging. Once finished, customers can have them picked up by LOOP (or return them to an in-person site) to be refilled and reused. 

SodaStream’s closed loop on a broader scale 

A move to a circular economy for our brand strongly aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically goal number 12: Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns. According to the UN, unsustainable practices are the root causes of pollution, loss of biodiversity, and climate change. And our reliance on natural resources is rising over 65% globally. 

How does a circular economy impact climate change? Products are manufactured, consumed, collected, and remanufactured into new products—an infinite loop designed to eliminate waste. Corporations can use fewer resources overall, reduce greenhouse gas emissions (70% of emissions stem from material use), and decrease global waste, including the reliance on landfills.

The sustainable future 

Sustainability is not a trend to court new customers; it’s the path to a healthier planet if it’s done correctly. Open loop systems that don’t account for the product once it’s been bought by the consumer are not the answer, even if the materials can be recycled. Looking ahead, the goal of closed loop solutions is zero waste.

According to the investment fund Closed Loop Partners, in 2021 alone, closed loop solutions kept 3.6 million tons of materials in circulation and avoided 6.8 million tons of greenhouse emissions.

And for our part, one SodaStream reusable bottle saves thousands of single-use plastic bottles, and by 2025, we will save up to 76 billion single-use plastic bottles from our planet. The message behind these numbers is clear: to keep sustainability going—and address the mounting concerns about climate change—closed loop systems, where the materials are always in use and not in the trash, are essential to have around.

Mark Fenton is chief business officer of SodaStream U.S.


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