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08/03/2021

Target, Walmart and CVS Health Launch Pilot to Replace Plastic Bags

A trio of mass retailers have banded together to launch a series of pilot tests to replace plastic bags with more sustainable alternatives for shoppers.
Fill it Forward bag

The Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag, managed by Closed Loop Partners, aims to do away with consumable plastic bags across retailers, with founding members Target, Walmart and CVS Health taking on a six-week pilot to test. The Consortium was created last year and also includes other major retailers--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. CVS Health, Target and Walmart have collectively committed $15 million toward the Consortium.

The Consortium’s first test pilot will involve a test in nine stores in Northern California, with multiple reusable bags alongside enabling technologies. Customers can sign up to borrow reusable bags or receive incentives or reminders to use reusable bags. ChicoBag, Fill it Forward, GOATOTE and 99Bridges--which all won Closed Loop’s Beyond the Bag Challenge that sought to identify long-term solutions that reimagine how to get goods home from an in-store purchase--will test their solutions in the pilot stores. 

"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,” Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, said in the announcement. “By testing new bag innovations in-store, we gain valuable insights that allow us to iterate quickly and expand to more communities. 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."

One pilot with GOATOTE will utilize a kiosk system that customers can use to borrow clean, reusable bags beginning August 9. Customers need to download the GOATOTE app to check out and use the bags for up to 30 days. Customers then return the bags for no cost. Another pilot with ChicoBag and 99Bridges lets customers borrow reusable bags on-site and get rewards for each reuse when using the 99Bridges’ Mosaic App. That pilot is already underway at three stores.

The third pilot by Fill it Forward involves a digital tag and app that connects to reusable bags customers already own. Customers can earn rewards, track their environmental impact and find opportunities to support charities. When customers bring their own bags to the pilot stores, they can receive a bag tag at checkout that they then attach to their bag and scan whenever they use it. Through the Fill it Forward app, users can see their environmental and reuse metrics, and gain rewards.