- Dollar General has joined the "Beyond the Bag" initiative, which aims to make the plastic disposable retail bag obsolete, as a lead partner for the value retail sector, the retailer announced in a press release on Thursday.
- As a lead partner, Dollar General will explore recommended solutions for the value retail sector that come out of the Beyond the Bag Initiative, as well as direct the sector's priorities and activities within the program's operations.
- Albertsons also recently joined the initiative, which is run by the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag. The retailers are the latest ones to sign onto the initiative, which launched last summer with the help of founding partners CVS Health, Target and Walmart and has since added several more grocery partners.
Albertsons' and Dollar General's decisions to join the initiative fit a common theme across the grocery sector of projecting a commitment to environmental issues and improving the industry's record on sustainability.
Dollar General said it will try out Beyond the Bag's recommendations across its store count of more than 17,000 in 46 states. Meanwhile, Albertsons said it will work with the consortium's partners "to provide solutions for how to transport groceries home in a way that is both convenient for customers and more sustainable," along with working on its own efforts to protect the environment.
Beyond the Bag, launched in July 2020 by the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners and the founding retail partners, works to identify, test and eventually implement alternatives to plastic retail bags. It also aims to reduce the use of virgin natural resource materials and greenhouse gas emissions in bag production, divert retail bags from landfills and engage shoppers in its mission to transform the existing grocery transport system. Currently, the consortium has a competition underway for solutions to minimize or get rid of plastic bags.
In late 2020, regional grocery chains Meijer and Hy-Vee joined the consortium, which also includes Kroger and Walgreens.
Albertsons is a member of the GreenChill program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to minimize harmful refrigerant emissions. In April 2019, the company announced a program to cut plastic use across its private label as well as some supply chain materials and rolled out an eco-friendly line under its Own Brands label using compostable material.
According to Closed Loop Partners, 100 billion single-use plastic bags are used in the U.S. each year, for an average use time of 12 minutes. The firm previously mobilized food and beverage providers to displace the prevalence of the disposable coffee cup.
The move away from single-use plastic bags was stymied by many grocers' — as well as several U.S. state legislatures' — temporary bans on reusable bags due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, expert analysis has found no evidence linking reusable grocery bags to the transmission of the virus, according to sister publication Waste Dive.