Giant retailers like Walmart and Target unite to take on plastic bags

Single-use plastic shopping bags are a real problem. They take decades to break down but nearly 100 billion of them are used in the United States every year to cart away goods from retailers. Fewer than 10 percent of those are recycled — often winding up in landfills and waterways because many recyclers don’t accept them.

Now, Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy is partnering with Walmart, CVS Health and Target to address that problem. Their $15 million joint Beyond the Bag Initiative — similar to a previous collaboration focused on redesigning cups — will focus on creating solutions that reinvent shopping bags and that more effectively divert single-use plastic bags from landfills. 

The consortium’s goals include diverting single-use plastic bags from landfills and scaling solutions that would serve the same function and replace the retail bag, through this three-year partnership. It plans multiple approaches. The first approach centers on reimagining the design through an Innovation Challenge with OpenIDEO. That effort, which will begin accepting applications Aug. 3, will seek innovative ways to “reinvent” the retail bag.

It’s open to all sorts of solutions from students, scientists and companies of all sizes, because there cannot simply be no one silver bullet solution that will solve the plastic retail bag problem. 

Once the search ends, the group will select about a dozen winners to join the Beyond the Bag Circular Business Accelerator, which will involve mentoring, capital investment, testing and piloting. Whichever solutions win will then be scaled up and tested at retail locations across America.

As they continue their journey, the consortium partners share a sense of urgency in addressing the issue of plastic bag waste — that’s why these unlikely collaborators are working together and acting as a collective.

“The nature of bringing competitors together can help reframe the issue beyond short-term fixes and alternatives to long-lasting, systemic solutions that really take a holistic approach from production to use to reuse to recovery,” said Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners.

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Giant retailers like Walmart and Target unite to take on plastic bags

Single-use plastic shopping bags are a real problem. They take decades to break down but nearly 100 billion of them are used in the United States every year to cart away goods from retailers. Fewer than 10 percent of those are recycled — often winding up in landfills and waterways because many recyclers don’t accept them.

Now, Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy is partnering with Walmart, CVS Health and Target to address that problem. Their $15 million joint Beyond the Bag Initiative — similar to a previous collaboration focused on redesigning cups — will focus on creating solutions that reinvent shopping bags and that more effectively divert single-use plastic bags from landfills. 

The consortium’s goals include diverting single-use plastic bags from landfills and scaling solutions that would serve the same function and replace the retail bag, through this three-year partnership. It plans multiple approaches. The first approach centers on reimagining the design through an Innovation Challenge with OpenIDEO. That effort, which will begin accepting applications Aug. 3, will seek innovative ways to “reinvent” the retail bag.

It’s open to all sorts of solutions from students, scientists and companies of all sizes, because there cannot simply be no one silver bullet solution that will solve the plastic retail bag problem. 

Once the search ends, the group will select about a dozen winners to join the Beyond the Bag Circular Business Accelerator, which will involve mentoring, capital investment, testing and piloting. Whichever solutions win will then be scaled up and tested at retail locations across America.

As they continue their journey, the consortium partners share a sense of urgency in addressing the issue of plastic bag waste — that’s why these unlikely collaborators are working together and acting as a collective.

“The nature of bringing competitors together can help reframe the issue beyond short-term fixes and alternatives to long-lasting, systemic solutions that really take a holistic approach from production to use to reuse to recovery,” said Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners.

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