In just a couple weeks, Wegmans stores will remove plastic bags, and charge a fee for paper bags at stores across New York State.
The company announced the move at all its stores following a successful pilot run at stores in Corning and Ithaca. The change will happen on January 27th.
Wegmans’ goal is to shift all customers to reusable bags, the best option to solve the environmental challenge of single-use grocery bags, the company said in a press release. At stores where the county or municipality choose not to institute a 5-cent fee for paper bags, Wegmans will charge 5 cents per bag. Those funds collected from the paper-bag charge will be donated to the local food bank serving each region.
“By adding a charge for each paper bag, our hope is to incentivize the adoption of reusable bags, and in time, achieve our goal of eliminating all single-use bags,” said Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans packaging and sustainability manager. “This approach has proven successful at our two-store pilot. On average today, 20% of the bags used across all Wegmans stores are reusable. However, at our pilot stores in Corning and Ithaca, we’ve flipped that statistic so that only 20% of the bags used are single-use bags.”
A recent companywide survey of Wegmans customers found that 95% already own at least one reusable bag, and 87% have three or more. For those customers who regularly use reusable bags, their top three reasons for choosing them over single-use, in addition to the environmental benefits, are sturdiness, handles, and ease of packing.
“We learned a lot from the pilot that will help ensure a smooth transition out of plastic bags in the rest of our New York stores for our customers and employees,” added Wadsworth.
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