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Target has teamed up with Walmart, CVS and other retailers to reinvent the standard retail plastic bag. [ANDREI GABRIEL STANESCU/DREAMSTIME/TNS]

Target has teamed up with Walmart, CVS and other retailers to reinvent the standard retail plastic bag.

Target Corp. announced it joined the Beyond the Bag Initiative that aims to identify, test and implement viable alternatives to the traditional plastic retail bag.

Led by New York-based investment firm Closed Loop Partners, the newly formed Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag consists of founding partners Target, CVS Health, Walmart, Kroger and Walgreens, which have collectively committed more than $15 million to launch the initiative.

"The status quo has been shaken, presenting a unique opportunity to build back better and reimagine a more resilient and sustainable way of doing business," said Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, in a statement.

More than 100 billion single-use plastic retail bags are used in the United States every year with less than 10% of those bags being recycled, according to Closed Loop Partners.

As part of the three-year project, design solutions will be solicited from around the world through the group's Innovation Challenge, which will have an initial focus on implementation in the United States.

Winning ideas will be eligible to receive a portion of $1 million in funding and some ideas will be eligible to participate in an accelerator program to develop potential pilots. The challenge is scheduled to officially launch Aug. 3.

"We believe in serving our guests and communities with actions that reduce our footprint on the planet," said Amanda Nusz, Target's vice president of corporate responsibility, in a statement. "We welcome others to join us in this collective effort as we aim to design a better solution."

Target's plastic shopping bags are made of 40% recycled content. Customers also can recycle plastic bags at in-store recycling kiosks.

Target provides a 5-cent discount for each reusable bag customers use at checkout. In 2018, customers used more than 70 million reusable bags and were awarded discounts of more than $3.5 million.

Last December, a group of advocates delivered to Target's Minneapolis headquarters a petition with more than 455,000 signatures via Change.org asking Target to ban plastic bags at its stores.

A new Minneapolis ordinance took effect on Jan. 1, requiring all businesses to charge customers 5 cents for plastic or paper bags, but there had been earlier complaints that some retailers such as Target weren't adhering to the new law.

The city was giving a six-month grace period for businesses to comply, but city officials have decided to suspend enforcement until Oct. 1 because of the pandemic.

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