Wegmans, headquartered in Ithaca, New York, has started to remove plastic grocery bags at its Ithaca and Corning, New York stores. This comes after an announcement in April that Wegmans will eliminate plastic bags at all its New York State stores ahead of the state ban that takes effect on March 1, 2020.
Paper grocery bags will continue to be available; however, 5 cents will be charged for each bag. Wegmans’ goal is to convert all customers to reusable bags, thereby eliminating the need to charge. In the meantime, the amount collected will be donated to the Food Bank of the Southern Tier.
In Germantown, Maryland, where Wegmans is required by law to charge a 5-cent fee for paper and plastic bags, 65 percent of bags used are reusable compared to a 20 percent average in Wegmans’ New York State stores.
Since Wegmans introduced reusable bags in 2007, the company has put an emphasis on educating customers of the benefits. In fact, a recent survey of Wegmans customers found that 95 percent already own at least one reusable bag, and 87 percent have three or more.
Shifting customers to paper bags by eliminating plastic has an additional negative impact on the environment, whereas increasing the use of reusable bags reduces the overall number of single-use bags, positively impacting the environment in the following ways:
- It takes seven tractor trailers to transport the same number of paper bags as plastic bags carried by one tractor trailer;
- It takes greater resources and energy to make and recycle paper compared to plastic;
- Paper bags do not breakdown in landfills; and
- Paper bags are harmful to waterways due to the chemicals used in the manufacturing process.
Wegmans Food Markets Inc. is a 99-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts.