In 2018, McDonald’s and Starbucks teamed up to create an eco-friendly alternative to the single-use soft drink cup. Coordinated by the investment firm Closed Loop Partners with support from the design studio Ideo, it was an unprecedented, joint effort between rivals to fix the ecological impact at the core of their business. Several of the resulting winners were piloted in stores earlier this year.
Now, the retail industry is following suit. Today, Walmart, Target, and CVS Health are announcing the Beyond the Bag Initiative, a plan to reinvent single-use plastic bags. The three companies are leading the new initiative with Closed Loop; Kroger and Walgreens have signed up as well. With $15 million in promised investments, the partners are inviting entrepreneurs and inventors to pitch new ideas to replace the 100 billion plastic bags still used in the United States every year.
“We have to approach this as an industry,” says Kathleen McLaughlin, executive vice president and chief sustainability officer at Walmart. “Walmart’s not going to figure that out on their own, nor is Target, nor is Kroger.”