Wegmans' Response to the Proposed Plastic Bag Ban in New York State

Rochester, N.Y., April 25, 2018 -

On April 23, Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced a program bill that would ban all single-use, plastic carryout bags at any point of sale in New York State. Below is Wegmans' response to the proposal, from Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans manager of sustainability. 

A plastic bag ban that doesn’t also address single-use paper bags will likely lead to an increase in the use of paper bags, which is not what’s best for the environment.

We know from experience that it’s possible to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags by educating customers about reusable bags and reminding them to bring plastic bags back to our store for recycling. This, coupled with the use of plastic bags made from recycled plastic will have a much greater impact in the long run. Wegmans uses a true closed-loop recycling program. Our plastic bags are made from 40 percent recycled plastic that is returned to our stores by our own customers, and our recycling rate for plastic bags averaged close to 50 percent in 2017.

It’s important to fully understand the impact of each bagging option on the environment:

  • Increasing the use of reusable bags is by far the best way to reduce the number of paper and plastic bags being used. However, it’s important to consider the additional resources it takes to manufacture reusable bags. If not used by consumers on a regular basis to replace paper or plastic bags, reusable bags are not better for the environment, and they are also not recyclable. 

  • Plastic bags are the second-best option for the environment when looking at the science. They are made from natural gas, not oil, and are very light compared to reusable and paper bags, requiring fewer trucks for transportation.

  • Environmentally, paper is the least preferred of the three bagging options. Paper bags are heavier and take up more space; it takes seven tractor trailers to transport the same number of paper bags as plastic bags carried by one tractor trailer. It also takes about 90 percent more resources and energy to make and recycle paper compared to plastic. Due to the chemicals used in the manufacturing process, paper is also very harmful to our waterways. And while paper bags are biodegradable, they won’t actually biodegrade if they end up in a landfill because of a lack of oxygen. *Supported by the findings of the New York State Plastic Bag Task Force.

Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is a 96-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts. The family-owned company, recognized as an industry leader and innovator, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016. Wegmans has been named one of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ by FORTUNE magazine for 21 consecutive years, ranking #2 in 2018.

Press Contact:
Tracy Van Auker
Media Relations Coordinator
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