When Wegmans Food Markets and The Nature Conservancy decided to work together on an April 2014 recycling initiative in celebration of Earth Day, they set an ambitious goal: break last April’s record of 177,200 pounds of recycled plastic bags— the equivalent of about 11 million new bags. For every pound recycled over that amount, Wegmans would give 50 cents to The Nature Conservancy, the leading organization working around the world to protect lands and waters for nature and people.
Wegmans hoped that their customers would be inspired by knowing their actions were helping an organization focused on preserving land and water for people and nature. Apparently they were: Wegmans customers recycled 220,000 pounds of plastic and film throughout the month— 25 percent more than what was recycled last April.
As a result, The Nature Conservancy will receive a donation of $22,000 for conservation work in Central and Western New York, where Wegmans is headquartered. The Nature Conservancy has protected nearly 100,000 acres in the regions and owns and manages preserves totaling 30,000 acres in the Finger Lakes, Tug Hill, Allegheny Highlands, French Creek, Zoar Valley, and along the Great Lakes.
The recycling initiative built on steps Wegmans had already taken to reduce, reuse and recycle, including stamping "Return to Sender—Don’t Trash It" on its disposable bags, using bags made with 40 percent recycled plastic and promoting the use of reusable bags (still the best option from a sustainability perspective).
“We issued this recycling challenge to our customers as a small step toward increasing awareness about plastic bag recycling,” said Wegmans Sustainability Coordinator Jason Wadsworth. “Partnering with an organization focused on similar sustainability goals was a great fit and we’re grateful and excited to share these results.” Throughout the month, Wegmans posted signs about the initiative near in-store recycling bins, and both organizations got the word out using social media, asking followers to clean out their pantries and cupboards and offering tips about what bags can be brought back to stores—newspaper bags, cereal bags, dry-cleaning bags and bread bags can all be recycled.
“We are grateful to Wegmans for this generous contribution and for their commitment to sustainability—which reaches far beyond this one program,” said Jim Howe, The Nature Conservancy’s Central and Western New York director.
“This initiative helps our lands and waters twice—it inspires everyday actions that help preserve our resources, while also providing essential funds for local conservation. We hope to continue to collaborate with Wegmans on creative ways to boost sustainability and support for the lands and waters that sustain us all.”