Wegmans Continues Phased Elimination of Plastic Bags

Grocer pledged to discontinue single-use plastic bags by end of 2022
Emily Crowe
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Single-use plastic bags will not be available at Wegmans stores in Virginia and North Carolina beginning July 1.

Following through on its commitment to remove single-use plastic bags from all of its stores by the end of the year, Wegmans Food Markets has set a July 1 date to eliminate the bags from its six remaining Virginia stores and all four North Carolina stores. 

Paper grocery bags will remain available at all stores for a $0.05 charge per bag, with those proceeds going to local food banks. Incentivizing the use of reusable bags through the surcharge has proven successful in several markets, with the grocer reporting 20-25% of customers opt for paper bags and 75-80% use reusable bags, or no bag at all, where the policy is already in place. 

“We understand shoppers are accustomed to receiving plastic bags at checkout and losing that option requires a significant change. We are here to help our customers with this transition as we focus on doing what’s right for the environment,” said Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans category merchant for packaging, energy and sustainability, when the company first announced its plan. “As we’ve encountered plastic bag legislation in numerous markets, we’ve learned there’s more we can do, and a bigger impact we can make, together with our customers.”

In 2019, Wegmans removed plastic bags from its Ithaca and Corning, N.Y., stores, as well as its Richmond, Va., stores, ahead of local legislation banning their use. The company will continue its phased approach to eliminating the bags at its remaining 27 stores throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

Wegmans has a larger commitment to reduce single-use plastics, and plans to reduce 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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