Fairfax, Va., November 15, 2021 – Beginning Wednesday, December 1, 2021, Wegmans will remove single-use plastic grocery bags from its Fairfax, Alexandria, Tysons, and Chantilly, Virginia, stores. While paper grocery bags will continue to be available for a 5-cent charge per bag, Wegmans’ goal is to shift customers to reusable bags, the best option to solve the environmental challenge of single-use grocery bags. The amount collected from the paper-bag charge will be donated to each store’s local United Way and food bank.
Wegmans’ decision to eliminate plastic bags comes in response to new Fairfax County plastic bag legislation that goes into effect on January 1, 2022. While the legislation permits retailers to offer plastic bags to customers at a 5-cent charge per bag, Wegmans’ approach aligns with what it has in place in other markets where plastic bag legislation exists, most notably in New York State. The company also successfully eliminated plastic bags at its two Richmond, Va. stores in 2019.
“We’ve always understood the need to reduce single-use grocery bags,” said Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans packaging, energy, and sustainability merchant. “By eliminating plastic bags and adding a charge for each paper bag, our hope is to incentivize the adoption of reusable bags, an approach that has proven successful for us in New York State and Richmond.”
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 survey of Wegmans customers found that, among those who regularly use reusable bags, their top three reasons for choosing them over single-use bags, in addition to the environmental benefits, are sturdiness, handles, and ease of packing.
Wegmans sustainability efforts focus on the three areas it believes it can make the biggest impact right now – eliminating waste, sustainable packaging, and carbon footprint.
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is a 106-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 24 consecutive years, ranking #4 in 2021. The company also ranked #1 on PEOPLE’s 2021 ‘Companies That Care’ list.