These Winning Designs are Helping Us Reimagine the Plastic Bag

  • Feb 16, 2021
graphical user interface

Paper or plastic? For the sustainable retail bag of the future, the answer may be neither.

As we continue to reduce our footprint on the planet and work to create a better future for all, we’re committed to finding ways to extend the lifecycle of the products we make and create new solutions for a healthier planet. That’s why Target, as a founding partner of the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag, is proud to share nine cutting-edge potential designs for the retail bag of the future, each with the goal of reducing plastic waste and creating end-to-end solutions that are affordable, guest-friendly — and most importantly — better for our planet.

These winning designs were selected through the Consortium’s Beyond the Bag Initiative, which brought together major retailers like Target, CVS Health and Walmart alongside Closed Loop Partners' Center for the Circular Economyto kick-off a multi-year effort to reimagine the plastic retail bag, starting with a worldwide call for innovators to submit their designs for a sustainable bag of the future. From a seaweed-derived option to an in-store kiosk reusable bag system, each winning solution has the potential to meet the Initiative’s goal of harnessing the convenience of today’s plastic bags while lessening or eliminating the impact on the environment and society.

“We know that tackling the challenge of mounting plastic waste and its impact requires a holistic approach to best serve the needs of people, the business, and the planet,” says Amanda Nusz, senior vice president of corporate responsibility at Target. “We’re excited by the nine winners — together they offer a compelling range of possibilities and inspiring potential solutions to this urgent and necessary work.”

What’s next? The Consortium, and founding partners like Target, will work with the winners to test the designs for performance, health and safety, recyclability and compostability, and user experience.  The goal is to pilot designs — maybe even at a Target store near you — that deliver convenience for guests and reduce plastic waste and retail’s impact on the planet.

So what could the retail bag of the future look like? Read on for a look:

A rendering of a plastic bag alternative, with seaweed in the background. Text on the bag says "Thank You For Saving The Planet With Us


Sway’s design uses seaweed-derived material that is bio-based and designed to be carbon-negative, meaning it removes carbon from the environment when it’s made rather than adding to it. By matching the strength and performance of traditional plastic bags, the bag fits into existing supply chains without needing any new infrastructure.

A cloth bag with a small white tag and barcode, with text pointing to the tag saying "Stick Me On Your Reusable Bag" and logo for Fill it Forward; at bottom, three illustrations

Fill It Forward

Fill It Forward’s barcode tags connect  existing bags to a mobile application  that allows users to track environmental impact, earn rewards, and give back to charitable projects.

A reusable bag filled with items and text pointing to various parts of the image

Chico Bag

Chico Bag’s reusable bag is lightweight and compact, and yet can hold up to 25 pounds. Their service enables customers to borrow bags on-site as part of the sharing economy. 

A package sits on a doormat, and the package material is black cloth with a plastic window for the address slip.


Returnity designs and manufactures reusable shipping and delivery bags and boxes for products already on the market and provides the e-commerce and delivery packaging system that powers how these bags and boxes are used.

Text on image: EON Bring your products online and a concept map showing the Circular-ID at center with lines pointing to Recycled 11.22.2024, &In Store 11.22.2021, Used 11.22.2021 and a mock-up of an iPhone app.

CircularID by EON

EON uses the Internet of Things (IoT) to help retailers track inventory, manage reverse logistics and understand how bags are used by monitoring impact throughout the bag’s lifespan.

A blue text logo on white background with a leaf in place of the 'a'


PlasticFri  transforms agricultural waste, non-edible plants and other renewable resources into valuable bio-based, compostable products to replace disposable plastics.

A collage of two images: on left, a person's hands stretch a material to show it is strong; on right, a white reusable bag with the Domtar& logo on the front.


As an upgrade to traditional paper bags, Domtar is developing a new bio-based, recyclable material of 100% cellulose fiber that is stronger and stretchable.

In the entryway of a store, a collection box and a kiosk are labeled GOATOTE


GOATOTE is a kiosk system that provides easy access to clean reusable bags, offering a reusable alternative for guests that forgot their own reusable bag.

A mockup of an iPhone app, with text Integrated with retailer apps. Compatible with all retailers displacing [stet] this logo in store or on their websites. The logo in references is Beyond the Bag.


Connected-USE uses IoT technology to connect reusable “smart” bags at a store to digital systems enabled by RFID tags and QR codes, allowing retailers to reward guests with points for every use of their reusable bags.

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