Some New York residents have been cutting down on the use of plastic for quite some time; however, more will follow.
After a two-store pilot at its Corning and Ithaca stores, Wegmans eliminated single-use plastic grocery bags from all New York stores starting Monday.
The removal of the plastic bags comes before a state ban, which will go into effect March 1.
"We wanted to get out ahead of the ban. We know that we have a lot to learn from our customers ... how we can help them transition to reusable bags, because we know reusable bags are much better than paper bags for the environment," said Wegmans spokesperson Michele Mehaffy.
Ninety-five percent of Wegmans customers already own at least one reusable bag, according to a company-wide survey.
Paper bags will still be offered at New York Wegmans stores, with a 5-cent fee. Proceeds will go to FeedMore Western New York. Paper bags will be used for Instacart and Wegmans to Go Customers.
Since the customers don't have an option of using reusable bags for online platforms, they won't be charged a bag fee.
"Cutting down on our carbon footprint is incredibly important. We've always known that plastic bags have been an issue. But we know that the answer is not paper bags. It is reusable bags," Mehaffy said.
Wegmans provides reusable bags for 99 cents.
"We know that it takes a little bit of practice. I'm still guilty of sometimes coming to the store and having a full grocery cart and realizing that I've forgotten my bags in the car. It happens all the time. So we're really trying to make sure we educate our customers. We have a lot of signage in our parking lot," Mehaffy said.
Bags for other departments are not included in the statewide ban; however, Wegmans produce, deli, meat, and pharmacy bags are said to be plant-based.
Some customers even use reusable mesh bags to gather produce. So as not to hold up the line, it is advised that they weigh their items before checking out.