NEW YORK – The Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag is launching a series of tests and first-of-a-kind multi-retailer pilots from CVS Health, Target and Walmart to advance sustainable alternatives to the single-use plastic bag and accelerate their potential to scale. The pilots will help refine winning solutions from the Consortium’s global Beyond the Bag innovation challenge, evaluating multiple factors, from technical feasibility to desirability, and will run over a six-week period.
Beyond the Bag Challenge winners ChicoBag, Fill it Forward, GOATOTE and 99Bridges will begin pilots across a total of nine stores of the Consortium’s Founding Partners — CVS Health, Target and Walmart — in Northern California. The solutions being tested include multiple reusable bag models, alongside enabling technologies, which help serve customers’ needs, extend the useful life of retail bags and provide visibility into the full lifecycle of a bag. Across the select stores, customers can sign up and try these new solutions, whether it’s to borrow, incentivize or receive reminders to use a reusable bag. The partnership among leading retailers’ different stores sets an exciting precedent; collaboration will help accelerate pathways to scale and help address the systemic challenge of plastic bag waste.
In addition to the in-store pilots, other winning solutions from the Beyond the Bag Challenge will be piloted and tested in different contexts. Returnity and Eon will pilot through Walmart delivery in select markets. This pilot will test a different part of the retail system, knowing that people shop in various ways––ranging from at home to in store. Domtar, PlasticFri and Sway––companies developing innovative, alternative materials to single-use plastic––will undergo rigorous material performance and recovery testing to optimize their designs to meet the needs of retailers and customers, and match the specifications of recycling and composting facilities.
“To permanently eliminate the 100 billion single-use plastic bags currently used every year in the U.S., we are working collaboratively to build retail solutions that better meet customer needs while lessening the impact on the environment. By testing new bag innovations in-store, we gain valuable insights that allow us to iterate quickly and expand to more communities,” said Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. In July 2020, the Center launched the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag, a multi-year collaboration across retail sectors with Founding Partners CVS Health, Target and Walmart committing $15 million collectively. “Knowing that systems change does not happen overnight, these pilots are an essential step to test, incorporate customer and retailer feedback, and improve new solutions, exploring pathways to scale.”
This phase of experimentation is essential to the broader Consortium’s collaborative work, which includes additional Consortium Partners DICK’S Sporting Goods, Dollar General, The Kroger Co., The TJX Companies, Inc., Ulta Beauty, Ahold Delhaize USA Brands, Albertsons Companies, Hy-Vee, Meijer, Wakefern Food Corp., and Walgreens. The lessons learned from the pilots will help inform further iterations on the solutions and where more testing and investment is needed.
The tests and pilots are just one part of the Consortium’s complementary workstreams, which span innovation, advancing materials recovery through infrastructure investments, identifying best practices for policy and engaging consumers––all underpinned by work with key stakeholders across the entire bag value chain.
“We’re excited to pilot these new sustainable design solutions that can replace the single-use plastic retail bag,” says Eileen Howard Boone, senior vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility & Philanthropy and Chief Sustainability Officer at CVS Health. “Over the last several months, we’ve worked collaboratively with leading retailers and cutting-edge innovators, and we’re thrilled to now be able to bring our customers along on this journey to test these solutions.”
“We envision a retail industry where alternatives to the single-use plastic bag are easy and accessible for all communities. We’re proud to work together toward this goal alongside CVS Health and Walmart, as co-creation is key to our new sustainability strategy Target Forward,” says Amanda Nusz, senior vice president of Corporate Responsibility at Target and President of the Target Foundation. “We are thrilled to pilot these winning designs, as we know that collaboration and continuous iteration are integral to developing new potential solutions.”
“At Walmart, we believe climate change requires bold collective action. Minimizing plastic waste, in particular, depends on collaboration and cooperation across the retail industry,” says Jane Ewing, senior vice president of Sustainability at Walmart. “These pilots represent a unique and exciting industry-wide commitment towards a more sustainable future, and we are excited to work with the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag and to be a catalyst for meaningful change.”
The pilots are set to run through early fall and the Consortium looks forward to sharing the insights that are gathered as we collaborate to build a more circular future for retail.