Plastic bags inched a bit closer to their deaths this week, with the next step in a partnership among CVS Health, Target and Walmart entering the pilot stage.
Formed last year, the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag, managed by Closed Loop Partners, seeks to drive long-term change surrounding sustainable and scalable alternatives to the single-use plastic bag.
CVS Health, Target and Walmart are founding partners and have collectively committed $15 million. Other partners include Dollar General, Kroger, The TJX Companies, Ulta Beauty, Ahold Delhaize USA, Albertsons, Hy-Vee, Meijer, Wakefern Food and Walgreens.
The group’s first six-week pilot — occurring through the fall in nine CVS, Target and Walmart stores — will refine solutions from the Consortium's global Beyond the Bag innovation challenge to learn more about their technical feasibility and desirability.
Consumers can sign up and try the challenge-winning solutions from GOATOTE, Fill it Forward, ChicoBag and 99Bridges at the participating retail stores, which are all located in California.
With GOATOTE, consumers download a mobile app to unlock in-store kiosks to retrieve a reusable bag. They can use the bag for 30 days at no cost (returning after 30 days can incur a late fee).
The ChicoBag/99Bridges service lets shoppers borrow reusable bags in the stores and earn rewards in a mobile app for each reuse.
Fill it Forward, meanwhile, is a digital tag and app that connects to reusable bags shoppers already own. They can earn rewards, support charities and track environmental impact.
Returnity and Eon will also pilot their innovations through Walmart delivery in select markets, while Domtar, PlasticFri and Sway will undergo material performance and recovery testing to optimize their designs to meet retail, consumer and recycling needs.
There are 100 billion single-use plastic bags currently used every year in the U.S., according to Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. In-store testing will provide the insights needed to iterate quickly and expand to more communities.
Amanda Nusz, senior VP of corporate responsibility at Target and president of the Target Foundation, said Target envisions a retail industry where alternatives to the single-use plastic bag are easy and accessible for all communities. “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," added Jane Ewing, senior VP of sustainability at Walmart. “These pilots represent a unique and exciting industrywide 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.”
This story originally appeared on RIS News.