Wegmans Food Markets Pledges to Cut In-Store Plastic Packaging

Wegmans Food Markets has resolved to decrease in-store packaging made using fossil fuels, just as other single-use plastics, for example, straws, by 2 million pounds in 2019, with an objective of a 10-million-pound reduction by 2024.

To a large extent, Rochester, N.Y.- based Wegmans will accomplish this objective by eliminating some current plastic packaging and supplanting it with materials produced using plant-based inexhaustible fiber. The merchant will likewise keep on working intimately with The Center for Sustainable Packaging at Rochester Institute of Technology to discover new chances and packaging innovations.

Wegmans has already made progress toward its 2019 goal: In the main quarter, the retailer changed from plastic straws and drink blend sticks to inexhaustible fiber choices at all of its stores and corporate worksites.

These activities are with regards to the company’s Zero Waste program, an activity to eliminate all types of waste at its stores. The program started as a year-long pilot at Wegmans’ Canandaigua, N.Y., store in 2016, and has since extended to a total of 30 stores, with more scheduled to take part.

“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,” noted 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.”

Wegmans has effectively reduced plastic at its stores by giving food bar holders that utilization 40 percent less plastic and are recyclable, donut and festivity cake boxes made from 100 percent reused paper content, produce packs produced using 100 percent plant-based renewable materials, and rotisserie chicken pouches that use 75 percent less plastic than the phased-out plastic domes.

Further, the grocer plans to quit offering single-utilize plastic basic supply bags at its New York stores before a state-wide boycott produces results on March 1, 2020.

“By the end of this year, we will eliminate the use of plastic grocery bags in our New York state stores,” noted Wadsworth. “We want to get out ahead of this because we have a lot to learn from our customers about how we can help them make the shift to reusable bags, which are far better than paper bags for the environment.”

The disposal of plastic bags in New York state won’t be counted toward the company’s plastic-decrease responsibility for 2019 or its 2024 goal, however.

Other food retailers committed to reducing their plastic packaging include Ahold Delhaize, Aldi, PCC Community Markets and Walmart, while Big Y, Kroger and Natural Grocers are among those phasing out single-use plastic bags.

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