ROCHESTER, NY, January 06, 2020 – Following a successful two-store pilot at its Corning and Ithaca, New York stores, Wegmans will remove single-use plastic grocery bags from all its New York State stores on Monday, January 27. The removal of plastic bags comes ahead of a state ban that takes effect on March 1.
Wegmans’ goal is to shift all customers to reusable bags, the best option to solve the environmental challenge of single-use grocery bags. 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. The amount 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.”
Since Wegmans introduced reusable bags in 2007, the company has put an emphasis on educating customers of their benefits, especially the added convenience they offer. 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.
Wegmans first announced in April that it would eliminate plastic single-use grocery bags ahead of the New York State ban.
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is a 101-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. The family 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 22 consecutive years, ranking #3 in 2019. The company was also ranked #1 for corporate reputation among the 100 most visible companies, according to the 2019 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient® study.