FORT MILL, S.C. (News release) -- Domtar has been honored as one of the winners of the Beyond the Bag Challenge, led by the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag -- a collaboration convened by Closed Loop Partners with leading retailers, environmental partners, global design firm IDEO and others. The challenge attracted more than 450 global participants, and nine winners were announced on Feb. 16.
Though the single-use plastic bag remains ubiquitous in retail operations today, rising concerns about plastic waste have spurred efforts to identify viable alternatives. The consortium assembled leading retailers to find innovative solutions that serve the function of today's single-use plastic retail bag, offering ease and convenience for consumers while reducing the product's negative environmental impacts.
Domtar's winning submission is a 100 percent paper-based material that is sourced from a renewable natural resource, robust enough for limited reuse in a bag application and curbside recyclable.
Paper-Based Material Impresses Bag Challenge Judges
The bag challenge asked participants, "How might we transport goods from retailer to destination in a way that is compatible with diverse retail systems, delivers ease and convenience for customers and reduces environmental impact?"
Following a period of review and selection with the consortium partners, Domtar's submission was one of just 58 that made it to the Ideas Shortlist. Afterward, a panel of expert external judges, the consortium founding partners, sector lead partners, environmental advisory partners and Closed Loop Partners convened and further reviewed the shortlisted submissions to select the top ideas.
Though 100 percent cellulose fiber-based, Domtar's winning submission boasts properties not commonly associated with paper:
Stretchable -- This unique product stretches and flexes up to 40 percent.
Strong -- The durable material is stronger than conventional kraft bag paper.
Lightweight -- Domtar's material is up to 47 percent lighter than conventional bag paper.
Sustainable -- This paper is responsibly sourced and curbside recyclable after its intended end use.
The result is a lighter weight carrier bag material with superior qualities, reduced material content and a lower environmental impact.
Why the Retail Bag Needs Reinventing
For decades, the single-use plastic bag reigned as the dominant design solution for one of the most common human activities: getting a purchase home.
But that popularity comes at a great cost. Almost all plastic bags end up in a landfill, are incinerated or leak into the environment as trash.
In contrast, Domtar's unique material is made from a renewable resource, and paper remains one of the most recycled products on the planet.
Innovation a Top Focus at Domtar
Domtar's Catapult team, which includes individuals from market development and new technology innovation, engages in projects seeking to translate evolving market needs into innovative fiber-based products.
"A key component of how we win is by uncovering needs and seeing opportunities that are aligned with Domtar's core competencies, then translating those needs into innovative and/or improved products and services," says Katie Zorn, senior director of strategic planning and market development.
Indeed, the Beyond the Bag Challenge-winning material is just one of several promising projects the Catapult team is involved with related to innovative fiber-based processes and products. While R&D moves ahead and conversations to bring this innovative product to market continue, mounting public interest in products made from sustainable wood fiber shows no signs of slowing down. With extensive experience in pulp and paper, Domtar remains well-positioned to address this trend.
"Domtar is excited to know that the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag partners are committed to real and long-term sustainable change in carrier bags," says Krista Kozachanko, senior specialist, innovation technology. "By understanding consumer, retailer and environmental needs, Domtar has presented a circular solution that will have a lasting impact on the way we carry purchased goods."