Wegmans has taken this Earth Day to heart. Today, the supermarket announced that it will make a concerted effort to reduce in-store plastic packaging made from fossil fuels, which will be replaced by plant-based renewable fiber packaging. Wegmans will also eliminate its plastic bags by the end of 2019, well ahead of the state imposed ban.
This new commitment, will see a reduction of 2 million pounds of plastic in 2019, and a reduction of 10 million pounds by 2024. Wegmans stated that it will continue to work with The Center for Sustainable Packaging at Rochester Institute of Technology, to increase the number of eco packaging innovations for its products.
Earlier this year, Wegmans made the switch from plastic straws and drink stir sticks to renewable fiber alternatives at all its stores and corporate worksites. This initiative was brought about thanks to a Zero Waste program, which started as a one-year pilot at the company’s Canandaigua, New York store in 2016. Today, 30 Wegmans locations are playing a part of this green initiative.
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is a 98-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts.
“We’re taking measurable steps to improve and implement programs that increase our recycling rate, minimize waste, and help make a difference in every community we serve,” said Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans packaging and sustainability manager. “One area we’re paying particular attention to is packaging. We need to ensure packaging is functional and performs as expected, which is key to reducing food waste. But, it must also use materials efficiently and responsibly, and be recyclable whenever possible.”
Currently, Wegmans carries food bar containers that use 40% less plastic and are recyclable. Its produce bags are made from 100% plant-based renewable materials.
“Since putting a major focus on sustainable packaging in 2015, we’ve made great progress and have picked up a good deal of momentum,” said Wadsworth. “But with the aggressive goal we’ve set, momentum alone isn’t enough. We need to kick it into high gear.”
The aggressive goal mentioned by Wadsworth includes the elimination of plastic grocery bags in NY stores by the end 0f 2019, ahead of the state ban set to take effect on March 1, 2020.
“By the end of this year, we will eliminate the use of plastic grocery bags in our New York State stores,” said Wadsworth. “We want to get out ahead of this because we have a lot to learn from our customers about how we can help them make the shift to reusable bags, which are far better than paper bags for the environment.”
Learn more about Wegmans’ sustainable packaging efforts by visiting wegmans.com/sustainability.