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You Can Now Rent a Reusable Bag at Some Target and Walmart Stores

A reusable bag kiosk is being tested at some Walmart, CVS, and Target locations. Here's what we know so far.

Written by
Briana Dodson

We've got a pretty big single-use shopping bag problem on our hands. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than four million tons of plastic bags, sacks, and wraps are generated in the United States every year. Of that staggering number, only 10% is recycled, meaning the remainder is going straight to landfills where decomposition may take hundreds of years.

But there are plenty of ways we can reduce the amount of trash we produce. One rather simple solution? Reusable bags. It's becoming increasingly common for grocery stores and other retailers to sell their own. But if you'd rather not keep buying new ones every time you forget yours at home (hey, it happens!), you could soon be able to borrow one from a reusable bag kiosk.

Reusable Bag Kiosks Could Be Coming to a Store Near You

Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy is now partnering with giants such as Walmart, CVS Health, and Target, who have all pledged $15 million in order to launch the Beyond the Bag Initiative—a multi-year collaboration across the retail sector that identifies, tests, and implements design solutions that fight today's single-use plastic bag.

Beyond the Bag will explore a mixture of solutions, including bio-based materials and bagless solutions, which could include tech-driven models that deliver the same functionality as a bag without actually using one. (Think zero-waste stores or even drone delivery!) But while those options might be a little further down the line, reusable bag kiosks are already popping up at some locations.

One of the winners of the Beyond the Bag innovation challenge is GOATOTE's bag rental station. The team has spent the last month interviewing, testing, and adjusting how customers are able to interact with GOATOTE’s kiosk, and whether or not it can serve as a viable solution for consumers.

How GOATOTE's Reusable Bag Kiosk Works

GOATOTE makes the process super easy. After renting a reusable bag from the in-store kiosk using an app, you're able to use (and reuse!) it for up to 30 days. Bags that are returned within that 30-day window are free. Once you return it, GOATOTE cleans and disinfects it before it reenters the system for reuse.

This solution, along with two others—Fill it Forward’s gamified app that rewards consumers for bringing their own bags and a collaboration between ChicoBag and 99Bridges that lends reusable bags at the point of sale—are currently being piloted across nine Target, CVS, and Walmart locations in Northern California.

Over the next year, the team will continue to develop and innovate on what's already been created. Learnings taken from these stores—including the right messaging (feedback suggests "borrow this bag" is preferred over "reusable bag") and store employers' involvement (and encouragement), along with others—can be replicated for other stores throughout the country.

Initiatives like this will (hopefully!) be flooding a retail store near you very soon.

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