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Walmart, Wegmans, and Other Grocery Stores Are Getting Rid of This

The list of grocery chains that are joining this ban continues to grow.
FACT CHECKED BY Faye Brennan

Grocery shopping has changed drastically in the last two years. The popularity of grocery delivery has taken off and shortages are, unfortunately, still a dime a dozen. Yet, there is another big update some chains like Walmart, Target, and others are making right now that will change your shopping experience.

Wegmans, the regional grocery chain that operates in seven states (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and New York), just announced it's ending the use of plastic bags companywide by the end of this year.

The news comes just before New Jersey puts its statewide plastic bag ban into effect on May 4, 2022, following in the footsteps of other states like California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

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Wegmans' pledge to completely ban what experts call a threat to the environment across its stores is one of the most aggressive made by a grocery chain. The beloved grocery store reports that about 20-25% of transactions in stores are already made using only paper bags, but by halting the use of plastic, 345 million pounds of single-use bags will be removed from circulation in one year.

"We understand shoppers are accustomed to receiving plastic bags at checkout and losing that option requires a significant change," Wegmans' category merchant for packing, energy, and sustainability, Jason Wadsworth, says. "We are here to help our customers with this transition as we focus on doing what's right for the environment."

Other grocery stores are following this plastic bag ban.

grocery bags
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While grocery stores have to comply with plastic bag bans in the states that have enacted one, several have joined the Beyond the Bag Initiative from the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag to help eliminate them altogether. The initiative aims to identify, test, and implement innovative new design solutions to replace single-use plastic bags.

Members include Albertsons, as well as Target, Hy-Vee, Giant Eagle, Meijer, Walgreens, and CVS. Kroger, too, is part of the initiative and said in 2018 that it would eliminate plastic bags by 2025.

And, let's not forget Walmart. In a post published on its website in October 2021, Walmart's senior vice president of sustainability Jane Ewing wrote:

"Our journey to go Beyond the Bag began early last year, when we joined Closed Loop Partners' Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag, collaborating with CVS Health, Target and other major retailers to lead industry-wide change around viable alternatives to the traditional plastic shopping bag.

The good news is we've made progress. In fact, we've found opportunity for true change at the intersection of new technology and sustainability. As our stores work to test the innovative winning solutions of the Beyond the Bag Innovation Challenge, we're seeing firsthand that the future isn't just bright for alternatives—it's more sustainable, and it's on the immediate horizon."

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What does this mean for shoppers?

Meat in grocery bag
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For all Wegmans customers and any grocery shoppers who live in states with a plastic-bag ban, you have two options: bring a personal reusable bag to use at the grocery store or receive paper bags (which often come with a fee).

For others who don't live in these areas and want to decrease their dependency on single-use bags, know that investing in reusable options is a good move.

Before your next shopping trip, here are 7 Grocery Items So Unhealthy They Should Come With This Warning.

Amanda McDonald
Amanda is a staff writer for Eat This, Not That!. Read more