US supermarket chain Wegmans has committed to completely phase out single-use plastic bags across its operations by the end of 2022.
The decision is part of the company’s goal to replace single-use grocery bags with reusable alternatives.
Wegmans, which operates 106 stores, has already eliminated plastic bags at 61 stores, including in Virginia, Massachusetts, and Maryland.
By the end of this year, the retailer will eliminate single-use plastic bags at the remaining 45 stores and replace it with paper- and reusable-bag.
The move will enable Wegmans to prevent approximately 345,000,000 single-use bags from entering the market annually.
Wegmans packaging, energy, and sustainability category merchant Jason Wadsworth said: “We understand shoppers are accustomed to receiving plastic bags at checkout and losing that option requires a significant change.
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“We are here to help our customers with this transition as we focus on doing what’s right for the environment.
“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 started trialling removal of plastic bags at its Ithaca and Corning stores in New York in 2019, and by early January 2020, all its New York State stores became plastic bags free.
On an average, 20-25% of customers leverage paper bags, while the remaining 75-80% use reusable bags, or no bag at all, across these stores.
The retailer charges five cents per paper bag for reusable bags, which will be donated to each store’s local food bank and United Way.
In addition to removing plastic bags, Wegmans has committed to reduce its in-store plastic packaging made from fossil fuels, and other single-use plastics, by ten million pounds by 2024.