Solving the single-use plastic bag problem

As part of the Beyond the Bag initiative, EON partnered with Returnity and Walmart to develop and pilot a connected & circular system for reusable bags.

The Problem

The single-use plastic bag has long been the industry standard solution for customers to get a purchase home. But almost all plastic bags end up in a landfill, are incinerated, or leak into the environment as trash. The majority are made from fossil fuel-derived virgin plastic and are not compostable. Although technically recyclable, very few ever complete the journey to a recycling facility. Today, consumers are increasingly trying to make eco-friendly bag choices, but plastic alternatives carry their own set of drawbacks and there is still no scalable, long-term solution. 

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The Solution

Beyond the Bag, founded by Closed Loop Partners, aims to reinvent the single-use plastic retail bag by identifying new ways for people to get purchases from the checkout counter to their homes – without harming the environment. As part of the Initiative, EON partnered with Returnity to develop a circular, reusable bag system. Each bag is connected with a Digital ID, delivering benefits to all stakeholders in the value chain. An on-product QR code can be scanned by customers to access instructions on how to return their bags and transparency on the bag's journey from one delivery to the next. Retailers gain visibility into their logistics as each bag moves from retailer to customer to cleaning center. And sorting facilities can scan each bag to access its material contents and information that can facilitate easy end of life recycling. 

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A QR code on each bag can be scanned by customers to access  information about returning their bag.

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EON Client Platform

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Customer Experience

EON Partner App

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Learnings & Results

The bag was piloted through Walmart delivery in select markets to gain initial learnings from customers about its viability and inform scaled-up options in the future. The initial 2 month pilot showed positive results, and we took away some key learnings that will be used to iterate as we scale the pilot to more customers and retailers.

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Key Insights & Opportunities

  • Insight #1: More single-use bags could be diverted from the waste stream if they were properly recycled at end-of-life. Digital ID enables sorting facilities to access essential material data for recycling – an opportunity that we aim to explore in future pilots. 

 

  • Insight #2: Customers need more incentives to scan. A gamified rewards program could deliver this value to them. 

 

  • Insight #3: Retailers could increase efficiency by better leveraging their Digital ID data. Custom applications that leverage data from each bag’s Digital ID could improve asset tracking for functions such as reverse logistics. 
     

  • Insight #4: Customers wanted to see sources for sustainability claims, and for statistics to be presented to them in a more engaging, relatable way.

"The fashion industry’s latest visionary partnership between EON, a product cloud platform and materials science and apparel company PANGAIA marks a significant turning point for what is now expected on labels."

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