Will Walmart, Target, Kroger and other chains fix America’s plastic bag problem?
America has a plastic bag waste problem. Less than 10 percent of the estimated 100 billion plastic bags used in the country are recycled. What’s left is often found on the sides of roads, in waterways and in landfills. The problem is so big that even the nation’s largest retailers do not feel individually up to the task of solving it. That’s why erstwhile rivals CVS, Kroger, Target, Walgreens and Walmart have joined together in a consortium focused on finding a better, more eco-friendly solution.
The retailers announced yesterday that they had joined the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag in partnership with Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy.
Closed Loop is an innovation center focused on finding solutions whereby materials are shared, reused and continuously recycled. It has been working with McDonald’s, Starbucks and others since 2018 on the NextGen Consortium, a multiyear initiative to invent a sustainable alternative to single-use hot and cold cups used in restaurants.
“The status quo has been shaken, presenting a unique opportunity to build back better and reimagine a more resilient and sustainable way of doing business,” said Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop, in a statement. “During challenging times, unexpected and unprecedented collaboration is required and we’re excited to work with leading retailers like CVS Health, Target, Walmart and others — along with the entire industry — to take effective action.”
The founding members are joining together in helping to finance a three-year program — Beyond the Bag — that will enlist the help of inventors in coming up with viable alternatives to bags on the market today. The retailers, which have together pledged at least $15 million to the effort, have called on others in the industry to join them.
“By coming together to tackle the problem, we aim to accelerate the pace of innovation and the commercialization of sustainable solutions,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, executive vice president and chief sustainability officer for Walmart. “Through efforts like the Innovation Challenge and the Circular Accelerator, we hope the Beyond the Bag Initiative will surface affordable, practical solutions that meet the needs of customers and reduce plastic waste.”
- Center for the Circular Economy – Closed Loop Partners
- Closed Loop Partners Launches Groundbreaking Consortium with CVS Health, Target and Walmart to Reinvent the Plastic Retail Bag – Closed Loop Partners
- Join Walmart, Others On our Journey to Reinvent the Plastic Bag – Walmart
- Target Just Joined a Groundbreaking New Partnership That Aims to Reinvent the Plastic Retail Bag – Target Corporation
- NextGen Consortium – Closed Loop Partners
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think a consortium such as this can be successful in finding a sustainable alternative to plastic bag use? Do you expect other national and regional retail chain operators to kick in to support the effort?