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Wegmans Food Market is marking Earth Day 2012 with an Organic Festival at which, in addition to food samples and children’s activities, shoppers will get a coupon for one free Wegmans reusable bag on April 21 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The latest bag model now contains at least 40 percent recycled content, according to the Rochester, N.Y.-based grocer.
“We’re really excited about this,” said Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans’ sustainability coordinator, of the new bag. “We’ve never had a plastic bag with so much recycled content before. We’re also introducing the bag-to-bag concept. All of the plastic bags customers bring back to our stores for recycling will now go toward making the 40 percent bags. This easy-to-understand idea may encourage more customers to return plastic bags for recycling.”
Since reusable bags were first introduced in 2007, Wegmans has moved to using 4,000 fewer plastic bags per store per day, although many customers continue to opt for plastic. “We need to keep making improvements to our plastic bags, since they are used most often,” noted Wadsworth. “For those who choose to use plastic, we simply ask them to bring the bags back to us for recycling, so that we can make more bags.”
The 40 percent plastic bag was piloted for more than a year in Wegmans’ Rochester-area stores. “We tweaked things, and now we have a bag that’s better from the sustainability point of view and that performs as well as some of the bags we’ve used in the past,” recounted Wadsworth.
This year, for the first time, the company has issued a Recycling Report Card showing how its efforts in this regard have fared over the past year. The report card will be displayed for customers who visit stores during the Organic Festival. Highlights include the donation of 15 million pounds of food to local food banks and pantries, and the composting of 2.3 million pounds of food waste; the recycling of 107 million pounds of cardboard and office paper; and the recycling of 3 million pounds of plastic bags and wrapping.
The Organic Festival highlights the link between environmental sustainability and organic foods, according to the grocer.
Family-owned Wegmans operates 79 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts.