Wegmans Pulling Plug on Single-Use Plastic Shopping Bags


Popular supermarket chain, Wegmans, pledged to eliminate plastic bags companywide by the end of the year. In the last phase of this pledge, Wegmans removed disposable plastic grocery bags at its 18 stores in Pennsylvania by the end of September, at which time the Rochester, New York-based grocer will complete its plan to discontinue them chainwide. Wegmans piloted the removal of plastic bags at its Ithaca and Corning, New York, stores, as well as its Richmond, Virginia, stores in 2019, ahead of the New York State plastic ban. The New York pilot was targeted on understanding the impact of removing plastic bags and how to make the transition seamless for employees and customers.

In Richmond, the focus was on understanding how to help customers with the switch when state legislation isn’t the motivating factor. Following the successful completion of all pilots, Wegmans eliminated plastic bags at all its New York State stores in January 2020. The retailer noted that its goal involves shifting customers to reusable bags, but paper grocery bags will continue to be available for 5 cents each, with the amount collected going to each store’s local United Way chapter. Charging for paper bags is pushing customers to turn to reusable bags, noting that at stores where single-use plastic bags have been removed, 75% to 80% of shoppers use reusable bags or no bag at all, and 20% to 25% use paper bags. The elimination of single-use bags is coupled with the grocer’s commitment to reduce single-use plastics. Wegmans 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.