A bag ban is all part of the brand at Wegmans
No matter which Wegmans a customer is shopping at in the U.S., they will not find single-use plastic bags available at checkout.
Wegmans eliminated the use of single-use plastic bags in its Pennsylvania stores on September 22, according to a press release. Pennsylvania was the last state in which Wegmans still had plastic bags available at checkout. With this move, the grocery chain has met its goal of eliminating single-use plastic bags in all stores by the end of 2022. The chain also intends to reduce single-use plastic packaging and plastics made from fossil fuels used in-store by 10 million pounds by 2024.
While retailers such as Aldi have similarly promoted reusable bags, and others like Walmart and Kroger have taken steps to reduce single-use plastics in other ways, much of the movement against single-use plastic grocery bags in the past few years has happened at the legislative level.
In the years immediately preceding the pandemic, plastic bag bans at the state and municipal level were becoming more commonly discussed, piloted and implemented throughout the U.S. as a way to reduce both environmental impact and visible litter.
But in March of 2020, when the pandemic struck, many states and cities temporarily suspended their plastic bag bans. There was a perception that reusable bags would slow the checkout process and keep people in stores longer, increasing the possibility of COVID-19 transmission, and concerns over reusable bags being a possible source of viral transmission. (Experts later established that COVID-19 was not transmitted via contaminated surfaces.)
Throughout late 2020 and 2021, municipalities began reinstating the bans.
Today the state with the most stringent bag ban is running into unforeseen consequences.
New Jersey legislators are considering amending the bag ban to allow single-use paper bags — not plastic — for e-grocery delivery, according to NJ.com. Since grocery delivery services have had to use reusable bags for each order to comply with the law, customers have complained of accumulating tens or even hundreds of bags. And though they are reusable, they are not necessarily easily recycled.
- Wegmans to Eliminate Plastic Bags in Pennsylvania – Wegmans
- New Jersey hops back on the bag ban bandwagon – RetailWire
- N.J. weighs bringing back paper bags as unwanted reusable bags pile up – NJ.com
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does Wegmans’ chainwide ban on single-use plastic bags make business sense for the grocer? Are there other grocers that you expect to follow suit as a matter of company policy and not an act of compliance with local or state laws?