Wegmans plans to reduce in-store plastic made from fossil fuels by 2 million pounds this year and seeks to eliminate 10 million pounds by 2024. The supermarket chain is targeting packaging and other single-use plastics.
So far in 2019, Wegmans reports replacing plastic straws and drink stirrers with renewable fiber alternatives at all of their corporate work sites and 98 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts.
To help reach their goal for this year, the company is collaborating with the Center for Sustainable Packaging at Rochester Institute of Technology to identify alternatives. Wegmans anticipates replacing some current packaging with materials made from plant-based renewable fiber, the company says.
“We need to ensure packaging is functional and performs as expected, which is key to reducing food waste,” said Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans packaging and sustainability manager. “But, it must also use materials efficiently and responsibly, and be recyclable whenever possible.”
The company’s focus on sustainable packaging kicked off in 2015. Since then, Wegmans introduced food bar containers that use 40% less plastic and are also recyclable. They switched to doughnut and celebration cake boxes made from 100% recycled paper content, and swapped the rotisserie chicken plastic domes for pouches with 75% less plastic. Produce bags for the stores are made from 100% plant-based renewable materials.
In New York State, where a plastic bag ban is officially set to go into effect in March 1, 2020, Wegmans plans to eliminate the bags before the end of this year. The company added that these bags won’t count toward their plastic reduction commitments, however.
Sustainable packaging falls under Wegmans’ Zero Waste program. Since piloting the program at one store in Canandaigua, New York, the regional grocery store chain is rolling it out to other stores in phases. Currently 30 stores are participating in the effort to eliminate all forms of waste.
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