(Image courtesy Closed Loop Partners)
The Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners (CLP) — with Founding Partners CVS Health, Target and Walmart, and joined by Kroger and Walgreens — is forming the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag. Conservation International and Ocean Conservancy join as Environmental Advisory Partners to provide critical perspective on environmental impacts and solutions throughout the initiative, and IDEO, a global design firm, joins as an Innovation Partner. Collectively, Consortium Partners have committed more than $15 million to launch the multiyear Beyond the Bag Initiative. The goal is to identify, test and implement viable design solutions and models that more sustainably serve the purpose of the current retail bag. Current alternatives to the plastic retail bag have yet to garner industry-wide support or widespread use by the public and many still have significant environmental impacts, notes CLP.
Studies show that over 100 billion single-use plastic retail bags are used in the U.S. every year, and less than 10 percent of these are recycled. Every year, plastic retail bags are among the top 10 items found on beaches and waterways worldwide, according to Ocean Conservancy. “That’s why this initiative aims to take a holistic view of the challenge and solutions, aligning consumer convenience and product innovation with the equally important infrastructure for recovery or reuse of any alternatives developed,” explains Kate Daly, Managing Director of the Center for the Circular Economy.
Innovative design solutions to serve the function of today’s retail bag will be solicited from around the world through the Consortium’s global Innovation Challenge, with an initial focus on implementation in the U.S. Launched in partnership with IDEO, the Challenge “invites innovators, suppliers, designers and problem-solvers to submit their ideas for game-changing sustainable bag solutions.” The question posed to innovators is: “How might we transport goods from retailer to destination in a way that is compatible with diverse retail systems, delivers ease and convenience for customers, and reduces environmental impact?” States the introduction to the Challenge, the solutions:
- May include reusable models, bagless solutions, innovative materials.
- Must transport goods from retailer to final destination while replacing the single-use plastic retail bag with an improved solution.
- May explore point of sale checkout, in-store pick up, local delivery from retailer or other key moments along the “retailer to destination” journey.
Winning solutions are eligible to receive a portion of $1 million in funding; selected ideas are eligible to participate in the Beyond the Bag Accelerator and access potential piloting opportunities.