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    Wegmans Planning to Get Aggressive on Sustainability

    Consumer official Burris says some self-examination led the chain to decide to kick its 'S Word' effort up a notch.

    It sounds like Wegmans is getting more serious about its sustainability efforts, judging from comments made by the Rochester, N.Y.-base chain's s.v.p. of consumer affairs, Mary Ellen Burris in her latest weekly online column.

    "Several months ago, it seemed that the word "sustainability" was either ill-defined or not understood at all for many," Burris wrote in the column. "To better define how these global challenges affect us and map out future direction, we assigned one person to a new position that focuses on sustainability and began the work. After reviewing and documenting existing programs (some in place since the early 1990s), and determining future focus, we're moving ahead aggressively.

    "You'll be seeing and hearing more next month and months after that," Burris promsed online readers.

    She went on to explain Wegmans' policy for handling plastic bags returned to stores for recycling. "They're hauled off to our central reclamation center and then to a company that pays us for them by the pound, and distributes them to manufacturers to make new grocery bags."

    Burris added that the chain recycled 1.5 million pounds of plastic bags in 2007.

    "Also, the stores collect plastic stretch/shrink wrap (1.5 million pounds) that's needed to keep cases of products on pallets from shifting in trailers during travel from our distribution centers to stores," she said. "Seventy percent of that shrink wrap goes into plastic film used for dry cleaning or bread bags while the other 30 percent goes into durable backyard decks and some highway guard rails. So that's 3 million pounds of plastic, put to good use."

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