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Walmart Plans to Remove This Shopping Staple From All Stores For Good

The retail giant is joining forces with other chains in a new, eco-friendly effort.

Grocery stores are going under a rather significant transformation as a result of the coronavirus: one-way aisles, plexiglass guards at checkout, and wider shopping lanes are just a few of the ways in which supermarkets have recently evolved. Now, there appears to be a new change coming to many grocers and retail outlets that have less to do with COVID-19 and everything to do with the environment: reimagining shopping bags to minimize the use of plastic bags.

This new effort is being led by Closed Loop Partners with some of the world's largest retailers Target, CVS Health, and the world's largest retailer, Walmart, which just announced plans to diminish the reliance on plastic bags from all of their locations around the world in a joint effort with fellow retail giants.

The environmentally-friendly initiative is called "Beyond the Bag," and according to a statement published Tuesday morning, is seeking to find an innovative solution to take the place of single-use plastic bags. From the statement:

Because Walmart has set an aspirational zero waste goal, we have joined the "Beyond the Bag" initiative as a Founding Partner to accelerate innovation for much-needed solutions. With funding from Walmart, Target and CVS Health, this three-year initiative is led by Closed Loop Partners with the goal of identifying, testing and implementing viable design solutions and models that more sustainably serve the purpose of the current retail bag. Collectively, Founding Partners have committed $15 million to launch the Beyond the Bag Initiative.

These companies typically compete for shoppers, but they all face the same problem when it comes to a surplus of plastic bags that have a harmful effect on the environment. Walmart notes in their statement that "the average working life of one of these bags is only 12 minutes," adding "It's estimated that 100 billion plastic bags are being used annually in the U.S. alone, and less than 10 percent of them are recycled." That's a lot of plastic bags that go to waste. And many researchers believe that plastic bags never completely decompose.

"We know that this is not something we can solve on our own," Eileen Howard Boone, chief sustainability officer at CVS Health, said in a statement reported by Bloomberg. This is why this joint initiative appears to be crowd-sourcing solutions with a call for "inventors and innovators from around the world to submit their solutions to the Beyond the Bag Challenge, which will be launched in partnership with global design firm IDEO on August 3." (Design concepts should have a stated focus on implementation in the U.S.)

Plastic bags were first introduced in supermarkets in 1977. Since then, a number of states have regulated their use as has 32 countries. But the coronavirus has seen a resurgence of plastic bag usage amid safety concerns of the virus being spread via fabric tote bags or even paper bags.

For more grocery shopping advice, make sure you're up to speed on The Single Worst Thing You Can Ask at the Grocery Store Right Now.

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