It’s In the Bag: Wegmans Takes Bold Environmental Step

The supermarket chain is removing single-use plastic bags from its Pennsylvania stores. It takes about 1,000 years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill.
Image courtesy of BioCycle.

Wegmans Food Markets will soon be helping shoppers move toward a more sustainable environment by eliminating single-use plastic shopping bags at all 18 Pennsylvania stores. With stores in eight states, and one in the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania will finalize the chain’s complete transition from plastic to paper bags.

“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,” said Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans category merchant for packaging, energy, and sustainability. 

New York banned the use of plastic shopping bags in 2020 and New Jersey followed suit with its 2022 prohibition.

Shoppers have the option of bringing their own reusable bags or to purchase a paper shopping bag for a nickel; all money from paper bag sales will be donated to each store’s local United Way.

This positive environmental change has revealed very encouraging statistics. The grocery chain estimates that paper bags are used for 20-25 percent of transactions, while the remaining 75-80 percent use reusable bags, or no bag at all.

“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 Wadsworth.

In addition to plastic bag elimination, Wegmans is committed to reducing all single-use plastics that are largely manufactured using fossil fuels. By committing to these changes, the store believes they will reduce 10 million pounds of plastic waste by 2024.Bucks County is home to one Wegmans store in Warrington with a second being developed in Lower Makefield. 

Jenny Stephens

Jenny Stephens

Jenny Stephens is a freelance journalist who has written for a variety of publications, including The Reporter. An avid collector of all things vintage, she resides in Lansdale, PA.

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