On Saturday, January 1, 2022, Wegmans began removing single-use plastic grocery bags from its Fredericksburg, Virginia, 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, according to the retailer. The amount collected from the paper-bag charge will be donated to the local food bank.
“We’ve always understood the need to reduce single-use grocery bags,” said Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans packaging, energy, and sustainability merchant, in a statement. “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 and Richmond.”
Wegmans’ decision to eliminate plastic bags comes in response to the new City of Fredericksburg plastic bag legislation that goes into effect on January 1, 2022. While the legislation permits retailers to offer plastic bags to customers at a 5-cent tax per bag, Wegmans’ approach aligns with what it has in place in other markets where plastic bag legislation exists, most notably in New York State. The company eliminated plastic bags at its Fairfax County stores earlier this month, as well as at its two Richmond, Virginia, stores in 2019.
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 bags, in addition to the environmental benefits, are sturdiness, handles, and ease-of-packing.