Wegmans Completes Companywide Elimination of Plastic Bags

18 stores in Pennsylvania last to transition out of single-use grocery bags
Marian Zboraj
Digital Editor
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With the removal of single-use plastic grocery bags from all Pennsylvania stores, Wegmans will complete its companywide transition out of plastic bags.

East Coast grocer Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. will remove single-use plastic bags from its 18 stores in Pennsylvania beginning Sept. 22. This move marks the completion of the company’s journey to eliminate plastic grocery bags companywide by the end of the year.

“Completing our transition out of single-use plastic bags across the company is a big celebration as we continue to expand our sustainability efforts and focus on doing what’s right for the environment,” said Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans category merchant for packaging, energy and sustainability. “We started on this journey in 2019 when we set out to eliminate plastic bags in our New York State stores ahead of the state plastic bag ban. A lot has happened over the last three years, but that early success in New York showed us the impact we could make and drove us to continue on our journey to be plastic bag free by the end of 2022.”

It’s been a busy summer working toward its goal to eliminate plastic grocery bags companywide by the end of the year. In July alone, Wegmans removed single-use plastic bags in its Maryland and North Carolina stores, as well as six remaining Virginia locations.

While paper grocery bags will continue to be available for a 5-cent charge per bag in its Pennsylvania stores, Wegmans’ goal is to shift customers to reusable bags, the ideal 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.

Incentivizing the use of reusable bags by charging 5 cents per paper bag is an approach that has proven successful in the company’s other markets. According to Wegmans, in stores where it has already eliminated plastic bags, on average, paper bags are used for 20%-25% of transactions, while the remaining 75%-80% use reusable bags, or no bag at all.

Wegmans’ elimination of single-use plastic bags is coupled with its commitment to reduce single-use plastics. The grocer has committed to reducing its in-store plastic packaging made from fossil fuels, along with other single-use plastics, by 10 million pounds by 2024.

Family-owned Wegmans operates over 100 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts. The Rochester, N.Y.-based company is No. 34 on The PG100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America

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