The Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners (CLP) announced the nine winners of the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag’s “Beyond the Bag Challenge” in mid-February. The winners are ChicoBag, Domtar, Eon, Fill it Forward, GOATOTE, PlasticFri, Returnity, SmartC and Sway. Their solutions, which fall into three categories — Reuse and Refill, Enabling Technology, and Innovative Materials — range from reusable packaging systems, to technology that incentivizes consumers to make the sustainable choice, to bags derived from seaweed or agricultural waste. The winners now enter the next phase of the initiative where they work closely with the Consortium to prototype, refine and test the viability of their designs to scale as long-term solutions.
The Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag is a precompetitive collaboration committed to reimagining the retail bag and creating a more circular delivery system. Unveiled in July 2020, the Beyond the Bag Initiative is a three-year undertaking that aims to identify and scale innovative alternatives to the single-use plastic retail bag. Consortium Founding Partners CVS Health, Target and Walmart committed $15 million collectively to the collaboration, with the goal of driving transformational change. The Consortium has welcomed additional partners DICK’S Sporting Goods, Dollar General, The Kroger Co., The TJX Companies, Inc., Ahold Delhaize USA Brands, Albertsons Companies, Hy-Vee, Meijer, Wakefern Food Corp., and Walgreens.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution to tackle a problem as complex as our reliance on single-use plastic bags,” explains Kate Daly, Managing Director of CLP’s Center for the Circular Economy. “The diversity of our winners underscores how businesses and consumers alike need to employ a range of solutions to fit different geographic, social and economic contexts. We’re thrilled to announce these companies entering the next phase of the initiative, as we continue to support their growth and begin to implement select pilot programs.”
The Beyond the Bag Challenge partnered with the global design firm IDEO to manage the competition. Applicants had to identify long-term solutions that reimagine how to get goods home from an in-store purchase, from curbside pick-up, and in-home delivery. Over 450 innovators from around the world submitted their ideas on how to reinvent the retail bag. The Consortium then selected a shortlist of 58 concepts to explore deeper. The nine winners were chosen through a collective process by a panel of 10 subject matter experts alongside the Consortium’s Founding Partners, Sector Lead Partners, Environmental Advisory Partners and the Center for the Circular Economy. A comprehensive set of criteria were established across three overarching areas, which the concepts were required to meet:
- People: Maintain the convenience, efficiency and effectiveness of the single-use plastic bag for customers and retail employees alike and take into account accessibility and inclusivity.
- Business: Have attainable, long-term value for retailers in a variety of environments.
- Planet: Operate within a circular system and lessen or eliminate environmental and social harm in its sourcing, production, useful life and end-of-life.