Beginning Monday, September 28, Wegmans will remove single-use plastic grocery bags at its Columbia, MD store. While paper grocery bags will continue to be available for a 5-cent charge per bag, Wegmans’ goal is to shift customers to reusable bags, the best option to solve the environmental challenge of single-use grocery bags. The amount collected from the paper-bag charge will be donated to United Way of Central Maryland.
Wegmans’ decision to eliminate plastic bags comes in response to new Howard County plastic bag legislation that goes into effect on October 1, 2020. While the legislation permits retailers to offer plastic bags to customers at a 5-cent charge per bag, Wegmans’ approach aligns with what the company has in place in its other markets where plastic bag legislation exists, most notably in New York State.
“We’ve always understood the need to reduce single-use grocery bags,” said Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans packaging and sustainability manager. “By eliminating plastic bags and adding a charge for each paper bag, our hope is to incentivize the adoption of reusable bags, an approach that has proven successful for us in New York State.”
Since Wegmans introduced reusable bags in 2007, the company has put an emphasis on educating customers of their benefits, especially the added convenience they offer. A survey of Wegmans customers found that, among those who regularly use reusable bags, their top three reasons for choosing them over single-use, in addition to the environmental benefits, are sturdiness, handles, and ease of packing.
Wegmans sustainability efforts focus on the three areas it believes it can make the biggest impact right now – reducing waste in landfills, offering sustainable packaging, and reducing emissions.