- Wegmans announced last Thursday it plans to no longer offer single-use plastic bags by the end of this year.
- To help customers transition over to reusable bags, Wegmans said it will start charging five cents per paper bag — a move the grocery chain said has been successful in New York and other markets where it has already worked to pivot shopper behavior.
- Wegmans joins other retailers in switching to more eco-friendly bag choices as legislation that cracks down on single-use plastic bags becomes more widespread.
Wegmans has already eradicated single-plastic bags from 61 stores, and across those locations, it’s seen customers use, on average, paper bags for 20% to 25% of transactions and reusable bags or no bags about 75% to 80% of the time. Wegmans began offering reusable bags in 2007.
Once all of its stores have transitioned, Wegmans said it will have stopped approximately 345,000,000 single-use bags from going into circulation annually.
Still, Wegmans said it knows customers are used to their single-use plastic bag options.
“[L]osing 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,” Jason Wadsworth, category merchant for packaging, energy and sustainability at Wegmans, said in the announcement.
In some cases, like in New York, Wegmans has worked to eliminate single-use bags following legislative action. In others, like in Richmond, Virginia, Wegmans has taken the initiative up on its own.
The grocer said it will stop offering plastic and paper single-use bags at its nine New Jersey stores on May 4 to meet the state’s new bag ban. At the remaining 45 stores along the East Coast, the grocer said it will phase out the plastic bags during the second half of 2022, unless legislation requires a faster process.
Going forward, all new Wegmans stores will offer only paper bags as a single-use bag choice. The paper bag charge will get donated to each store’s local food bank and United Way.
Wegmans noted its bag efforts tie into a goal of reducing its in-store plastic packaging made from fossil fuels, along with other single-use plastics, by 10 million pounds by 2024.
Meanwhile, Target, Walmart, Dollar General, Kroger, Ahold Delhaize's U.S. banners, Albertsons, Hy-Vee, Meijer and Wakefern Food Corp. have all signed onto the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag's project to find more sustainable bag options. As part of that project, Target, Walmart and CVS Health launched pilots last year to test reusable bag options.