Wakefern Next to Venture ‘Beyond the Bag’
Wakefern Food Corp. has become the latest grocer to join the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag and its Beyond the Bag Initiative, a collective effort with the goal of identifying, testing and scaling design solutions to create a more sustainable retail bag.
“For more than four decades, the Wakefern cooperative has supported sustainability through efforts such as recycling plastic bags and other materials, reducing food waste, and implementing energy-efficient technology at retail and in our distribution centers,” said Karen Meleta, Wakefern’s chief communications officer. “Encouraging our customers to use reusable bags to shop and reducing dependency on single-use plastic and traditional paper bags is another important part of our commitment to the environment. We believe the best bag is a reusable bag, and we are proud to work with fellow consortium partners and innovators to create an even better retail bag and further advance our waste reduction initiatives.”
Launched in 2020, Beyond the Bag is a three-year effort to create sustainable and cost-effective retail bag solutions. The initiative unites major retailers as consortium partners, among them founding partners CVS Health, Target and Walmart, alongside other partners Dick’s Sporting Goods, Dollar General, Kroger, Albertsons Cos., Hy-Vee, Meijer and Walgreens. The consortium also works with such stakeholders as suppliers, materials recovery facilities, municipalities and advocacy groups to collectively identify viable market solutions that can scale and bring value to retailers, customers and end markets. Taking a holistic approach to identify and scale affordable, accessible and less wasteful retail bag alternatives, Beyond the Bag spans various complementary workstreams, driving innovation, advancing materials recovery through infrastructure investments, and seeking best practices for policy and engaging consumers.
Wakefern’s supermarket banners already offer a range of reusable bags.
“Wakefern’s connection to the communities its stores serve, and its alignment with the consortium’s broader vision, lays the essential foundation for meaningful impact at scale,” said Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at New York-based investment firm Closed Loop Partners, which launched the consortium. “We are thrilled to welcome Wakefern Food Corp. to the consortium to help build more pathways for collaboration that will create and incentivize sustainable, long-term change for retail.”
The largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States, Keasbey, New Jersey-based Wakefern Food Corp. comprises 50-plus members that independently own and operate more than 350 supermarkets under the ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer, Price Rite Marketplace, Gourmet Garage and Dearborn Market banners in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. The company is No. 25 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 listing of North America’s top retailers of food and consumables. Walmart, Kroger, Walgreens, CVS Health, Target, Albertsons, Dollar General, Meijer and Hy-Vee are Nos. 1,3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 16, 19 and 33, respectively, on PG's list.