This change is not new for New Yorkers, where plastic bags in most settings have been banned by state law since 2020. According to a company press release, Wegmans’ goal is to shift all customers to reusable bags.
“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. “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.”
Wegmans plans to incentivize the use of reusable bags by charging five cents per paper bag, an approach already utilized in New York stores.
Officials say in stores where the company has eliminated plastic bags, on average, paper bags are used for 20% to 25% of transactions with reusable bags for the remaining 75% to 80% of transactions.
According to Wegmans, by eliminating plastic bags from the rest of its stores, the company is preventing some 345 million single-use bags from going into circulation in a year’s time.
Additionally, Wegmans says the amount of money collected from the paper bag charged will be donated to each store’s local food bank and United Way. Last year the bag charge collected more than $1.7 million which was then donated.
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Plastic bags at grocery store checkout counter.