Piloting Innovations
On-the-Ground

Testing Solutions to Reinvent the Retail Bag

In 2021, the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag, with Founding Partners CVS Health, Target & Walmart, reached a significant milestone a year after its founding: the launch of a series of tests and first-of-a-kind multi-retailer pilots to advance sustainable alternatives to the single-use plastic bag and accelerate their potential to scale. The goal of these pilots and tests was to help refine winning solutions from the Consortium’s global Beyond the Bag innovation challenge, which selected nine winners from over 450 submissions. 

Specifically, the multi-retailer pilots began on August 2, 2021 on a rolling basis in Northern California, testing four winning solutions across a total of nine stores of the Consortium’s Founding Partners––CVS Health, Target and Walmart. The pilots evaluated multiple factors, from technical feasibility to desirability, testing solutions to see what resonates with customers and retailers and brings value to the recovery system after use.

Where We Piloted

Cluster 1: GOATOTE

A kiosk system that customers can use to borrow clean, reusable bags anywhere a kiosk is found.

Cluster 2: ChicoBag & 99Bridges

ChicoBag’s service enables customers to borrow reusable bags on-site and get rewards for each reuse, powered by 99Bridges’ Mosaic App.

Cluster 3: Fill it Forward

A digital tag and app that connects to reusable bags customers already own, offering opportunities to support charity organizations, earn rewards and track environmental impact.

How the Pilots Work

  • Cluster 1: GOATOTE

    Step 1: Download the GOATOTE app and join for free.

    Step 2: Locate the kiosk for your reusable bag in select stores, unlock the kiosk with the app, and grab your bags.

    Step 3: Use and reuse your GOATOTE bags for 30 days at no cost. Return them within 30 days to avoid a late fee.

    Photo Credit: GOATOTE
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  • Cluster 2: ChicoBag & 99Bridges

    Step 1: Request a ChicoBag bag at checkout. Bags will be available for a $3 deposit.

    Step 2: Download 99Bridges’ Mosaic app, and register your ChicoBag bag on the app. Reuse the bag to earn points!

    Step 3: Return the bag to the store you borrowed it from, once finished.

    Photo Credit: ChicoBag & 99Bridges
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  • Cluster 3: Fill it Forward

    Step 1: Bring your own reusable bag to select stores, and get your free bag tag at checkout.

    Step 2: Attach the bag tag to your reusable bag and scan the tag whenever you use the reusable bag.

    Step 3: Download the Fill it Forward app for free to see your environmental and reuse metrics, and gain rewards.

    Photo Credit: Fill it Forward
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What’s Next?

Building a more sustainable future for the retail industry won’t happen overnight. These pilots were a critical step to further develop innovative solutions that can help address complex waste challenges. The Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag continues to conduct deep synthesis and integration of learnings to inform the next steps. The lessons learned will underpin further iterations on the solutions, future tests, programs and potential investments.

These pilots can also inform viability in different contexts, helping us understand these solutions’ full potential to more sustainably, accessibly and effectively get goods home.

FAQ

  • What are we testing for?

    Our goal is to reinvent the single-use plastic retail bag on an industry-wide scale, and advance long-term change. To do this, we first need to increase our collective understanding of the existing enablers and/or barriers for individual solutions.

    Through these in-market pilots, we aimed to gather insights on how reusable bags are used and how enabling technologies unlock critical insights. We also aimed to measure the environmental sustainability of these solutions, and evaluate which innovations offer convenience to customers and integrate well into the checkout process for employees, while reducing overall impact on the environment––from the moment the bag is created to the end of their use life.

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  • Which retailers are participating?

    Select stores of CVS Health, Target and Walmart participated in the pilots in Northern California. As Founding Partners of the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag, these retailers lead this historic collaboration to advance sustainable alternatives to the plastic bag.

    These companies are pioneers when it comes to exploring and experimenting with cutting-edge solutions. Through their scale and collective market influence, they send a broader, unified signal across the industry to build a more sustainable retail future. 

    The Consortium first piloted at Founding Partner stores, and during the process, collectively analyzed insights and subsequently shared findings with the broader Consortium, folding in their perspectives to advance the industry as a whole.

    Other Consortium Partners have been actively engaged since the beginning to help identify and support solutions. This is the first iteration of Consortium pilots and we anticipate there will be substantive opportunities for these partners to engage, collaborate and potentially pilot solutions as we continue our journey together.

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  • Are all winners of the Beyond the Bag Challenge participating in the pilots?

    In addition to the in-store pilots, other winning solutions from the Beyond the Bag Challenge will be piloted and tested in different contexts.

    Returnity and Eon piloted through Walmart delivery in select markets. This pilot tested a different part of the retail system, knowing that people shop in various ways––ranging from at home to in store. Domtar, PlasticFri and Sway––companies developing innovative, alternative materials to single-use plastic––will undergo rigorous material performance and recovery testing, to optimize their designs to meet the needs of retailers and customers, and match the specifications of recovery facilities that process these materials after use. 

    Every entrepreneur, innovator and company we work with has different needs, and offers distinct pathways for getting our goods home. Many may be at different stages of growth. To meet these companies where they are, we provide tailored support to each of the solutions to enable their continued development and potential scaling within a new retail system.

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  • What are the next steps for the other winners of the Beyond the Bag Challenge?

    Other winning solutions from the Beyond the Bag Challenge will be piloted and tested in different contexts.

    Returnity and Eon piloted through Walmart delivery in select markets. This pilot tested a different part of the retail system, knowing that people shop in various ways––ranging from at home to in store. Domtar, PlasticFri and Sway––companies developing innovative, alternative materials to single-use plastic––will undergo rigorous material performance and recovery testing to optimize their designs to meet the needs of retailers and customers, and match the specifications of recycling and composting facilities.

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  • What is the ultimate goal? What will the success of the initiative be?

    We aim to identify and scale innovative new design solutions to create a system that serves the function of the current retail bag, providing customers with convenient, accessible, hygienic and environmentally-sound solutions.

    Success will be advancing a more sustainable and waste-free future for the retail bag, driving progress and momentum across the retail industry.

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