Wegmans shoppers say plastic bag ban will help the environment | Business


WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Wegmans removed plastic bags from its Pennsylvania stores on Thursday and shoppers weren’t bothered by the ban.

“I think it’s fine. It’s not really an issue,” said Wyoming resident Tara Lambert, who shopped at Wegmans with her 4-year-old daughter, Anna, and paid 5 cents for each of her three paper bags. “It helps the environment. I’m all about that. You can spare 5 cents for the environment.”

The move marked the completion of Wegmans’ journey to eliminate single-use plastic bags company-wide by the end of the year.

Shoppers had the option to bring reusable bags, purchase reusable bags for 99 cents in the store or pay 5 cents for each paper bag. Proceeds from the paper bag sales will be donated to the United Way and local food pantries.

Wilkes-Barre resident Keegan Seecharan paid 5 cents each for five paper bags.

“It’s better to have these than plastic bags because plastic is bad for the environment,” Seecharan said. “I don’t mind. Sometimes, I bring my own bags.”

Lake Wallenpaupack resident Matt Struck, a father of three boys who said he’s a frequent shopper at Wegmans, paid the 5 cents at the Wilkes-Barre Twp. store to get a paper bag for his groceries.

“I know realistically now that if I don’t want to pay the 5 cents, I just bring a reusable bag which, in the long run, is probably much better for the environment anyway,” Struck said. “I’m not like a tree hugger but the reality is you know the rules when you go in there.”

Wegmans’ decision to ban plastic bags came as concern grows over the environmental harm they cause.

Other states have banned single-use plastic bags entirely including New York, California, Delaware, Connecticut, Maine, Hawaii, Oregon, New York and Vermont. In May, New Jersey also implemented a ban on plastic bags.

Struck said he has paid more for paper bags when visiting stores in New Jersey and California so he didn’t mind paying the 5 cents for a paper bag.

“The reality is you have to flow with what life gives you and what the rules are and you adjust. If I don’t like it, I could go somewhere else,” Struck said. “The reality is that overall, it’s better. It’s better for the environment to not have plastic bags floating around for no reason.”

Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans category merchant for packaging, energy and sustainability, said Wegmans started on the journey in 2019 when they set out to eliminate plastic bags in its New York stores ahead of the state plastic bag ban.

He said completing the transition out of single-use plastic bags across the company is a “big celebration as we continue to expand our sustainability efforts and focus on doing what’s right for the environment.”

Wegmans timed its removal of plastic bags in Pennsylvania to align with its remaining supply of plastic bags, said Wegmans spokeswoman Tracy Van Auker. Any plastic bags that remain will be donated to area food banks, she said.

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