Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans plans to eliminate plastic bags companywide by the end of 2022. The company’s goal is to shift all customers to reusable bags.
“We understand shoppers are accustomed to receiving plastic bags at checkout and losing that option requires a significant change,” said Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans’ category merchant for packaging, energy, and sustainability. “We are here to help our customers with this transition as we focus on doing what’s right for the environment. As we’ve encountered plastic bag legislation in numerous markets, we’ve learned there’s more we can do, and a bigger impact we can make, together with our customers.”
Wegmans will incentivize the use of reusable bags by charging five cents per paper bag, an approach that has proven successful in New York and other markets. In stores where the company has already eliminated plastic bags, on average, paper bags are used for 20-25% of transactions, while the remaining 75-80% use reusable bags, or no bag at all.
By eliminating plastic bags from the rest of its stores and focusing on transitioning our customers to reusable bags, Wegmans is preventing approximately 345,000,000 single-use bags from going into circulation in a year’s time, according to the company.
The amount collected from the paper bag charge will be donated to each store’s local food bank and United Way. In 2021, the more than $1.7 million Wegmans collected and donated from the bag charge was used to increase access to wholesome food and address the most critical needs of its communities.