Wegmans has long championed sustainability, so why doesn't it support Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's recent proposal to ban single-use plastic bags?
"We know from experience that it's possible to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags by educating customers about reusable bags and reminding them to bring plastic bags back to our store for recycling," said Jason Wadsworth, manager of sustainability at Wegmans.
Next to reusable bags, plastic bags that are made of recycled plastic and can themselves be reused and recycled are the next best option, in Wegmans' opinion. They're made from natural gas, are lighter than reusable and paper bags and take up less space, requiring fewer trucks and fuel to transport. Wegmans' plastic bags are made from 40 percent recycled plastic, and its plastic bag recycling rate averaged nearly 50 percent last year, the company said.
In contrast, paper bags create harmful chemicals during the manufacturing process and, though they are biodegradable under the right conditions, they tend not to decay in landfills because of the lack of oxygen. Even reusable bags take more resources to manufacture than plastic bags, Wegmans points out, and are typically not recyclable.
Environmental groups suggest plastic bag bans have been ineffective when not also accompanied by surcharges for paper bags.