The Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag has initiated a pilot program to test a returnable retail bag deposit model in an effort to reduce single-use plastic bag waste. CVS Health and Target stores in New Jersey, where a plastic bag ban was implemented last year, offer customers the option to buy a reusable bag for $1 at checkout and receive a refund when returning the bag.
Reusable bags will be sold until July 17, while kiosks for returns and deposits will remain operational until mid-August. The consortium, managed by Closed Loop Partners, will utilize insights from the pilot to refine the returnable bag system. As numerous states are banning single-use plastic bags or imposing per-bag fees, reusable bags have become a popular alternative.
The pilot aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a returnable bag system and customer participation levels. Accessibility and convenience are central to this model, which offers in-store bag borrowing and returning options. The deposit system could also benefit those who don’t want to accumulate reusable bags at home.
The consortium is collaborating with 99 Bridges for technology and Returnity for bag collection, washing, and redistribution. Customers participate by scanning a bag’s QR code at a touchscreen kiosk, returning the bag, and instantly receiving $1 in cash for each returned bag. Data collected through QR codes will be analyzed to understand customer behavior and identify potential points of friction.
Cash rewards are provided instantly to incentivize returns, removing any potential friction from the process. The reusable bags are made from polypropylene, which is lightweight, durable, and can be washed and reused up to 125 times without deterioration.
As part of the consortium’s largest returnable bag piloting initiative, a bring-your-own-bag pilot is launching with participating retailers, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Dollar General, The Kroger Co., TJX, and Ulta Beauty. Both pilots will be implemented in over 150 retail stores nationwide.