We’re glad you have questions. This page has answers to your most pressing legal, IP, and technical questions related to this Challenge. For answers to common innovation Challenge questions, please visit the standard OpenIDEO FAQ page. If you have a question for OpenIDEO, Closed Loop Partners or Partners CVS Health, Target or Walmart, please email us directly at circular@IDEO.com.
In-Scope Solutions and Criteria Questions:
What is the Beyond the Bag initiative and why does it exist?
- The sheer scale of the issue and the social and environmental consequences connected to the current retail bag system calls for collaboration to find more sustainable solutions. To accelerate innovation for these much-needed solutions, CVS Health, Target and Walmart have joined with Closed Loop Partners, and are collectively committing $15 million to fund this historic consortium. The Challenge aims to identify innovative new design solutions that serve the function of today’s single-use plastic retail bag, delivering ease and convenience for consumers while striving to lessen the impact on the environment.
Why should I participate in the Beyond the Bag Challenge?
- Beyond the Bag Challenge winners are eligible to receive a portion of $1 million in funding. Awardees may also be selected to participate in a multi-month accelerator cohort to help scale their solutions with support and mentorship from investors, packaging and supply chain leaders, recovery infrastructure experts, prospective customers and business leaders, and IDEO. All participants in the Publicly Viewable Submission Channel, and all winners, benefit from public visibility, and often, media coverage.
How do you define bag and bag alternative?
- We are open to any solution that meets the Evaluation Criteria and are open to new designs and ideas that expand these definitions. Current retail bags vary across companies and geographies, but generally are flexible containers with a hole at the top used to hold goods of up to 22 lbs and carried a distance of more than 175 feet, often with handles. Bag alternatives are any solutions that contain and/or transport goods from retail to destination, but are not a bag-shaped and carried solution. Solutions must be recoverable and address getting goods home; however, ideas may also include boxes and other portage containers, and/or consider reuse and alternative delivery systems.
Does 'recoverable' mean reused? Or can 'recoverable' mean composted?
- Recovery refers to the collection, processing, and utilization of a bag or bag alternative’s raw material components after a bag or bag alternative is discarded at the end of its life. For solutions to be recoverable and kept out of landfills, their raw material components must have value to end markets that can use the materials and to the various businesses that would meet the needs of those markets. Recovery markets can include, but aren't limited to, recycling and composting. Reusable solutions do fall into the category of recoverable. Applicants should review the Additional Resources page to identify relevant standards and certifications for recyclability and compostability.
What is the priority between recyclability, biodegradability, compostability of solutions?
- The Challenge seeks to identify the best solutions to recover materials, understanding that those options vary by region and available recovery infrastructure, and will need to offer a competitive value proposition with the current retail bag. The Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag is identifying opportunities to enhance and invest in recovery infrastructure in the United States in parallel to their Beyond the Bag Challenge. Aligning new design solutions with available recovery infrastructure is critical, as well as avoiding any unintended consequences of replacement materials. More information on the end-of-use pathway for diverse bag typologies will be made available in our report, A New Way Home.
There are products already commercially available in the marketplace right now that are certified compostable, and use renewable resources. What's different about the products you are interested in?
- In order for bag or bag alternatives to scale and truly replace current retail bags, they must also have comparable performance, price competitiveness, and the ability to scale into diverse retail systems. This initiative seeks to identify such solutions, or identify solutions that meet other Evaluation Criteria and support them in advancing towards performance and price competitiveness.
Are you looking for a single solution?
- We anticipate there may be a variety of solutions at different stages of development that could be adopted at different stages to accommodate evolving recovery infrastructure and varying geographic regions and contexts.
For the Ideas Phase (the first phase of submissions), do we need a prototype ready, or are concepts OK?
- For the Ideas Phase (Phase 1) we are requiring at minimum a visual representation of your concept. This includes but is not limited to images, diagrams, or 2D / 3D graphics. Of course a more developed prototype can only help to increase your odds of advancing, so we encourage you to begin planning this early. For the Refinement Phase (Phase 2), we will be requiring evidence of a physical prototype of your solution, along with evidence of testing and feedback with users.