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Wegmans goes on plastics diet in time for Earth Day

This Earth Day, Wegmans announced it will reduce packaging made from fossil fuels by 2 million pounds this year, and 10 million pounds by 2024.

The company promised to achieve its goals by expanding the use of paper straws and wood stirring sticks, and switching to plant-based plastics for its bulk produce bags. According to a company spokeswoman, the produce bags are made from starch derived from sugar cane and can be recycled in the stores’ recycling program for plastic bags.

Though it will not be counted toward its plastics-reduction goals, Wegmans also will eliminate single-use plastic grocery bags in New York by the end of the 2019 to comply with new state regulations. The company will encourage customers to use reusable bags or paper bags.

The company’s waste-reduction program was piloted in its Canandaigua store for a year in 2016, and since rolled out to 30 stores with more planned to adopt the measures. Wegmans has 99 stores in six states and by year’s end will add two more stores and one more state.

“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.”

Some steps Wegmans has taken include:

  • Switching from plastic domes to plastic pouches for rotisserie chickens, representing three-quarters less plastic per chicken.
  • Switching to paper cake and doughnut boxes.
  • Using food bar containers that are recyclable and use 40% less plastic.

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