Hy-Vee Now Aims to Go ‘Beyond the Bag,’ Too

Hy-Vee Now Aims to Go ‘Beyond the Bag,’ Too Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag Beyond the Bag
The Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag and its Beyond the Bag aim to identify, test and implement workable design solutions and models to make the current retail bag more sustainable.

Hy-Vee Inc. has signed on to the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag as supporting partners, alongside founding partners CVS Health, Target and Walmart, as well as The Kroger Co., Walgreens and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Investment firm Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy kicked off the consortium and its Beyond the Bag initiative earlier this year to identify, test and implement workable design solutions and models to make the current retail bag more sustainable over the next three years.

“The opportunity to join the Beyond the Bag Initiative and address the shared challenges presented by single-use plastics with some of the largest and most influential retailers in our country is crucial as we remain committed to reducing our environmental impact,” noted Jay Marshall, Hy-Vee’s vice chairman and president of Hy-Vee’s supply chain and subsidiaries. “Through this collaboration, we can truly move the needle on a global waste issue and bring to life some much-needed solutions. We look forward to contributing our knowledge and insights and collectively collaborating with other consortium partners to pave the way for a more sustainable future.”

“The collaborative power of our consortium enables us to have impact at scale and accelerate the pace of innovation to find alternatives to the current retail bag,” said Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at New York-based Closed Loop Partners. “We continue to invite other retailers to join us and send a unified signal for transformational change to address this long-standing environmental challenge.” 

“Our commitment to phase out single-use plastic bags across our enterprise is a critical part of our Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social impact plan,” observed Lisa Zwack, head of sustainability at Cincinnati-based Kroger, which, as the grocery-sector lead partner of the consortium, directs priorities and activities for the initiative within the specific sector. “[W]e encourage other retailers to join our search for innovative, sustainable solutions to the traditional single-use plastic bag.”

This past August, the consortium introduced a worldwide innovation challenge to source solutions to replace the current plastic bag, among them tech-enabled reuse models, new materials, and software and hardware solutions. The challenge closed last week with more than 450 entries. Consortium partners, including retailers and environmental advisory partners, in addition to third-party experts will review and select the shortlist and winners, with all submissions viewed through the lenses of sustainability, accessibility, customer behavior, and alignment with reuse and recovery infrastructure. Winning concepts will receive a portion of $1 million in funding, take part in a circular accelerator to receive further assistance in scaling, and have access testing and potential pilot opportunities.

Employee-owned Hy-Vee operates more than 265 retail stores across eight Midwestern states. The West Des Moines, Iowa-based company is No. 33 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Walmart U.S., Kroger, Walgreens, CVS Health and Target are Nos. 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7, respectively on PG’s list.

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