Teaming up with other food and drug retailers, Meijer has joined the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag as a supporting partner to help cut down on plastic waste.
Launched over the summer, the coalition was founded to test options to the single-use plastic shopping bag now used by mass retailers nationwide. The consortium’s three-year Beyond the Bag Initiative calls on retailers to “think outside the box” to address the global waste issue of plastic shopping bags.
“Meijer operates under the philosophy that to be a good company, we must be a good neighbor,” Vik Srinivasan, senior vice president of properties and real estate at Meijer, said in a statement. “We are committed to lessening our impact on the environment and believe our participation in this initiative is an important step in keeping our communities clean for generations to come.”
Beyond the Bag seeks to find a single-use plastic bag replacement that’s functional, easy for customers to use and better for the environment, Meijer noted. The effort, kicked off by Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy, engages with stakeholders — including suppliers, materials recovery facilities, municipalities, advocacy groups and others — to promote viable market solutions that can be scaled and bring value to retailers and customers, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer said.
According to Erik Petrovskis, director of environmental compliance and sustainability at Meijer, the supercenter retailer already has made strides in reducing plastic and other other waste. This past January, Meijer opened its first small-format store, Woodward Corner Market, without single-use plastic bags. And since 2014, each Meijer store has placed collection bins inside its front-entrance vestibules for customers to deposit clean, dry plastic bags and films, including single-use, bread, dry cleaning, produce and water softener bags. This year, the company expects to recycle 6 million pounds of plastic bags, which are sent to its distribution centers to be remanufactured into decking.
Last year, Meijer began adding a How2Recycle label on its own-brand packaging to help customers understand how to dispose of the materials. By 2022, the How2Recycle label will be on all True Goodness by Meijer packaging, the retailer said. Also in 2019, Meijer set a goal that its store-brand packaging will be made from 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable materials by 2025.
Meijer operates 256 supercenters and grocery stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin.
“Lessening our impact on the environment through increased recycling efforts is an issue that is important to us and our customers, and one that we are working diligently to address,” Petrovskis added. “I look forward to reviewing the innovative solutions that will stem from this collaboration.”
CVS Health, Target and Walmart are the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag’s founding partners, while The Kroger Co. serves as the group’s grocery sector lead partner. Walgreens participates as a supporting partner, and investment firm Closed Loop Partners serves as managing partner. Hy-Vee is a supporting partner, and Dick’s Sporting Goods takes part as sports and outdoor retailer sector lead partner.
“The scale of the challenge is vast, with single-use plastic bags used widely across industries, sectors and geographies. Addressing a systemic waste challenge requires bringing stakeholders together to solve for a shared challenge,” stated Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. “Together, we are thinking outside the box and collectively reinventing the retail bag, and we encourage other retailers to join us.”