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Retailers launching pilot projects to encourage reusable bags

More retailers are launching pilot programs to phase out single-use plastic bags and replace them with reusable bags.

The Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag, managed by Closed Loop Partners, announced the pilot initiatives on April 19.

"The consortium took the lessons learned from our 2021 in-store reusable bag pilots, in addition to lessons gathered from other reuse systems around the world, to design, test and manage this new service model," said Kate Daly, managing director and head of the Center for the Circular Economy at CLP.

The new pilot programs will be tested at 150 stores in three states, at retailers including CVS, Target, Dick's Sporting Goods, Dollar General, Kroger, TJX and Ulta Beauty.

The Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag launched in 2020.

One project, called the Returnable Bag Pilot, will test a new reusable bag solution that can help customers who forget to bring their own bags to stores. Customers will have the option to buy a nonwoven polypropylene bag for a $1 deposit. Customers who return the bag at participating stores, receive their $1 back.

Those bags will be washed and redistributed and are designed to be reused 125 times. This pilot will launch in New Jersey, which already has a ban on single-use bags in certain stores. The pilot will run from April 17 to July 17.

According to CLP, 87 percent of customers surveyed in New Jersey have purchased bags even if they didn't want or need them.

"The goal of the Returnable Bag Pilot is to measure how well the returnable bag system resonates with customers, as well as consistency of customer participation," Daly said.

The other pilot is the Bring your Own Bag Pilot, which will launch in Denver and Tucson, Ariz., and will run from May 1 to July 30.

Signage, marketing and prompts in the participating stores will encourage customers to bringing their own bags. The consortium will measure the impact on customers, retail operations, finances and the environment and analyze the results across diverse markets, retailers and customers.

"Together, the two pilots seek to identify how complementary reuse approaches can work in parallel to reduce single-use plastic bag waste, focusing on increasing the use of existing reusable bags in the market, as well as creating solutions for when customers forget their own reusable bag," Daly said.

"We have intentionally designed the pilots to be scalable and have prioritized strategies that are low-cost and easy to implement so that many retailers can use them across many stores," Daly said.

"If these pilots are successful, we will explore expanding bring your own bag initiatives to other communities across the country."

Publication date: 19/04/2023

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This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2022-01-31