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Target’s Terracycle Retote

Target has teamed up with Terracycle to produce a new type of reusable bag called Retote. The new bag is made from an entirely different process and is truly unique in the reusable bag arena.

Retote proves that sometimes a simple solution to a problem is the answer.  Made directly from used Target shopping bags unlike other reusable bags made from recycled content, Retote bags are made through a process known as fusing.

Target has had a relationship with Terracycle for several years selling their liquid fertilizers.

Their relationship with the small NJ-based company grew this year when they formed a unique partnership.  Terracycle developed the process for making the fused reusable bags and approached Target with the idea.

The new bag concept developed into a major promotion for Target last month.  The promotion itself was also a new concept and involved inserting a special mailer into the green themed, April 14 issue of Newsweek. The mailer instructed readers to fill it with used Target bags and return it postage paid to Terracycle.  Each customer who sends bags to Teracycle will receive a coupon redeemable for a Retote bag at Target later in the summer.

The Target Retote bags have lots of people excited.  Target stores had an initial supply of Retotes in stores when the April promotion was announced.  The bags quickly sold out said Target’s Amy von Walter. Target will have the bags in all stores later this summer von Walter said.

von Walter told Sustainable is Good the Target Retotes are totally different than other offerings because they made from material which is up-cycled as opposed to recycled.

The up-cycling process requires far less energy than recycling plastic bags and yields much higher amounts of usable material said Terracyle’s Albert Zakes.

“The fusing technology requires a very small amount of heat, combined with a large amount of pressure.  The combination causes the bags to fuse together,” said Zakes.

“Standard recycling of plastic bags is horribly inefficient.  The process requires a large amount of heat to melt the bags down entirely plus a very small amount of usable plastic is recovered in the process making it hardly worth the energy or the cost involved with recycling the bags.”

Terracycle’s fusing process is different.  It uses just enough heat to help them fuse together.

“The lower cost of fusing instead of recycling plastic bags is a huge motivator for large companies.  Why spend more money on a process that is less advantageous and won’t increase your environmental responsibility,” asks Zakes.

Sustainable is Good had the opportunity to test a sample of the Retote and we were all highly impressed.  The fusing process actually allows you to see your old Target bags “fused” together with each other into something new. Its this direct connection with the product and material for the consumer that make this bag design so interesting.  A Target shopper can actually see their old bag become something new – it becomes an exciting tangible object.

The Retote is also highly functional and durable with a solid feeling texture.  The bags will be re-launched at Target stores nationwide later this summer and will sell for $5.99 said von Walter.  The Target/Terracycle/Newsweek promotion will continue through the end of May.

The Retote is an example of a reusable bag that is a win-win for everyone involved.  Target’s foresight to go forward with this new concept bag is very telling and speaks volumes as to their commitment to staying on top of technology and design to make a better more eco-friendly product.

We’ve seen a large amount of reusable bag designs become available on the market over the last year and hands down Retote is the most unique.  Retote shows us that simplicity and sustainability go hand in hand and together can create something great.

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