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Brief Published: 24 Feb 2021

Pre-Competitive Collab is Reinventing Single-Use Retail Bags

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Sway, Beyond the Bag

Nine solutions that reimagine single-use retail bags have been selected as winners of Beyond the Bag – an initiative launched by the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag (a pre-competitive collaboration across retail sectors). Among reusable and bagless systems, the responsible, future-thinking alternatives include innovative materials that will help tackle plastic pollution.

The US consortium was initially launched by circular economy investors Closed Loop Partners, healthcare firm CVS Health and retail giants Target and Walmart. It now has many other partners, and is working towards transformational change by identifying and scaling innovative long-term solutions to getting goods home; from in-store purchases to kerbside pick-ups and at-home deliveries.

Solutions had to meet a comprehensive set of criteria, including convenience, efficiency, accessibility and inclusivity, and lessening/eliminating environmental and social harm. "There is no one-size-fits-all solution to tackle […] our reliance on single-use plastic bags," says Kate Daly, managing director of the Centre for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. "The diversity of our winners underscores how businesses and consumers alike need to employ a range of solutions to fit different geographic, social and economic contexts.”

The Innovative Materials winners include US lab Sway, whose seaweed-derived bio-based, compostable and carbon-negative bags match the strength and performance of traditional plastic ones; and Stockholm producer PlasticFri’s starch-based compostable bags, made from agricultural waste, non-edible plants and other renewables. And US manufacturer Domtar’s new bio-based, recyclable material, made from 100% cellulose fibre, offers an alternative to paper bags.

Other winners include SmartC, an incentivising Internet of Things system; and Returnity, an e-commerce and deliveries solution that offers reusable bags and boxes.

The pioneering initiative demonstrates that collaboration and a holistic approach are imperative to solving our most pressing challenges. See Packaging Futures 20/21 for more on the changing face of packaging, and our Materials Evolution A/W 22/23 for further eco-responsible innovations.

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