Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos. has joined the Beyond the Bag Initiative, its latest step to contributing to efforts to reduce plastic waste.
The initiative, launched by the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag, is a multi-year collaboration across retail sectors. It aims to identify, test and implement innovative new design solutions that serve the function of today’s single-use plastic retail bag, delivering ease and convenience for consumers while striving to lessen the impact on the environment.
“Albertsons Cos. has a passion for innovation and shares Beyond the Bag’s vision of reinventing the single-use retail bag,” said Suzanne Long, group VP of strategic sourcing and ESG. “Ensuring our products are better for our communities and the planet is a priority for us. We look forward to working with the Beyond the Bag Initiative to help create a more sustainable future.”
The initiative has several foundational goals:
- Reduce the use of virgin materials from natural resources and greenhouse gases emitted from the production and recovery of bag solutions;
- Identify and scale innovative new design solutions to create a system that serves the function of the current retail bag;
- Increase the percentage of retail bags diverted from landfills; and
- Inspire and engage people to imagine new possibilities for the retail bag system.
Convened by The Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, the consortium includes retailers, environmental advisory partners and third-party experts. Last summer, the consortium launched a global innovation challenge to identify solutions to replace the current plastic bag, inviting entrepreneurs, designers, suppliers and problem-solvers to submit solutions. The consortium expects to announce winning concepts in February. Eligible winners will receive funding, assistance in scaling and get access to testing and potential piloting opportunities.
“It’s time for us to think beyond the status quo and reinvent the ubiquitous retail bag for a more sustainable future,” said Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. “We’re thrilled to welcome Albertsons Cos. into this consortium of leading retailers. Together, we can create impact at scale and tackle the challenge of plastic bag waste that spans companies and sectors.”
Throughout the next few years, Albertsons Cos. will continue to work on its own initiatives as well as collaborate with Consortium Partners to provide solutions for how to transport groceries home in a way that is both convenient for customers and more sustainable for the environment. The consortium includes the three founding partners – CVS Health, Target and Walmart – as well as Kroger, DICK’s Sporting Goods, Hy-Vee, Meijer and Walgreens.
Additional plastic reduction efforts already underway at Albertsons Cos. include:
- Plastics and Packaging Pledge: Albertsons Cos. announced its Plastics and Packaging Pledge in April 2019 to advance sustainability and reduce plastic waste throughout the company and its banners, starting with its operations and its extensive Own Brands portfolio. Among the commitments is a pledge to ensure 100 percent of its Own Brands packaging is recyclable, reusable or industrially compostable by 2025. The company also has committed to decreasing its overall plastic usage, with an emphasis on single-use plastics. More information about the company’s Plastics and Packaging Pledge can be found at albertsons.com/plasticspledge.
- Reusable bags made with recycled bags and plastic film: Select stores offer reusable shopping bags that are produced through a closed-loop process that produces bags made from 65 percent recycled material, including a minimum of 40 percent post-consumer waste. Some of this recycled material comes from plastics that customers recycle in the stores and the company’s own operations.
- Reusable bags made from ocean-bound plastic: The company’s Southern California stores offer bags made with up to 90 percent post-consumer plastics that would otherwise end up in oceans and waterways. Each bag is created from material that has been traced through the entire supply chain – from collection to production.
- Efforts to reduce single-use bags: The company is proactively working to decrease double-bagging and increasing the number of items in each bag while still protecting the groceries inside the bag. The plastic bags come with a printed reminder to recycle bags; many stores offer drop-off bins for single-use plastic bags to help customers recycle their bags.
Albertsons Cos. operates stores across 34 states and the District of Columbia under 20 banners including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen and Carrs.
More information about the Beyond the Bag Initiative and its retail partners can be found here.