Rochester, New York-based retail chain Wegmans committed itself to reducing its instore plastic packaging by two million pounds in 2019 and by 10 million pounds by 2024.

The  company says it will achieve this goal by eliminating some current plastic packaging and replacing it with materials made from plant-based renewable fiber. Wegmans will also continue to work closely with The Center for Sustainable Packaging at Rochester Institute of Technology to identify new opportunities and packaging innovations.

Wegmans has already made progress toward its 2019 goal. In the first quarter, the company made the switch from plastic straws and drink stir sticks to renewable fiber alternatives at all its stores and corporate worksites.

The focus on sustainable packaging is part of the company’s Zero Waste program, an initiative aimed at eliminating all forms of waste at its stores. The program started as a one-year pilot at the company’s Canandaigua, New York store in 2016, and has since been rolled out to a total of 30 stores, with more slated for the future.   

“We’re taking measurable steps to improve and implement programs that increase our recycling rate, minimize waste, and help make a difference in every community we serve,” says Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans’ packaging and sustainability manager. “One area we’re paying particular attention to is packaging. We need to ensure packaging is functional and performs as expected, which is key to reducing food waste. But, it must also use materials efficiently and responsibly, and be recyclable whenever possible.”