How do stores make money with Zero Waste Bags?


Ian Heraty

You may wonder why a store would want to sell a bag that it intends to buy back. Even worse, the stores must pay to clean the bag before they can sell it again. How is that a good business deal?


New Bag: -$6

Bag Cleaning/Repair: -$2


Price: $10

Return: $10 store credit for customers

Sounds rough… But this accounting is missing a few points.

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

1. The customer returns to your store and buys >$10 worth of goods.

The store keeps the cash in exchange for goods AND can sell the bag again. According to the Food Industry Association[1], in 2019, the average customer transaction was $38.41. 2 trips (buying bag and returning it for store credit) will on average create $76.82 in revenue.

2. You make profit on bags that are not returned.

We prefer to reuse bags as much as possible. This is a good outcome if the customer is reusing the bag a lot in place of a plastic bag.

3. Cash today is better than cash tomorrow.

Zero Waste Bag works like a gift card. Why do stores sell gift cards? How do they make money with gift cards? Margin. The store gets cash today with the promise of goods in the future.

4. An investment in the community and the store.

The Zero Waste Bag is a long term investment in the community and your store. No matter customers return the bags or not, the bags are good for the environment. As time goes, our community will be happy with a zero waste future.

[1] Food Industry Association Supermarket Facts