By Sammi Cohen
Most Rochesterians can’t imagine life without Wegmans. But soon, they’ll all need to remember their reusable grocery bags when they make a shopping trip — or else they’ll end up paying the price.
That’s because the chain has finally set the date of their plastic bag ban, ahead of New York State’s own that goes into effect on March 1. Starting on January 27, Wegmans shoppers statewide will no longer have access to the single use plastic bags they’ve grown accustomed to using (and adding to a growing collection in the hall closet).
Up to 500,000 reefer trailers are currently in operation in the United States. Many of those trailers are packed with various items heading to Wegmans locations around the northeast.
While we rely on plastics for a variety of applications in our everyday lives, such as the durable plastics created through the reaction injection molding process, single use plastics are being heavily targeted for their wastefulness. Stainless Steel 304 is the number one most common grade of stainless steel. While 88% of the world’s steel is recycled, single use plastics are known to be harmful to the environment. We currently use 23 billion plastic bags each year, but researchers state that these bags never really decompose. This has prompted states like California to ban these single use plastic bags outright — and New York followed suit.
But until now, New York residents weren’t exactly sure when their shopping routines would be disrupted. You won’t be able to walk into a store, load your cart with personal care items (many of which contain oils in concentrations of 1-99%) and prepared food, and expect to be given grocery bags for free. Wegmans previously announced the chain would be getting rid of the bags (other than plastic bags used for uncooked meat, sliced and prepared foods, bulk products, prescription drugs, carry-out orders, and newspapers) prior to the statewide ban, but now, some residents are scrambling to get their reusable bags in order so that they won’t be forced to pay a fee.
That’s right: if you forget your own bags, you’ll need to pay a fee — if you’re in a county or municipality that’s opted into that corresponding program, that is. Wegmans will charge five cents per paper bag where applicable. Instacart shoppers will not be charged extra for paper bags, since they do not have the option of providing their own reusable ones. But before you make assumptions about where that money is going, you should know that the chain plans to donate those proceeds to local food banks in areas that have not opted into the statewide five-cent charge program. In the areas that have opted in, two cents from each bag will go towards local government, while three cents will be diverted to New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund.
That said, many advocates have pointed out that paper bags and even reusable plastic options are not necessarily better for the enviornment and that some of the guidelines show a lack of understanding about the issues at-hand.
Still, that won’t stop the wheels of progress from turning — or keep you from needing to invest in reusable shopping bags. There are plenty of options available (there are even ones you can buy right at Wegmans), but most people will want bags that are washable and sturdy enough to carry all of that fresh food without worry. Although the number of fast-food restaurants throughout the U.S. has more than doubled since the 1970s, having the right kind of reusable bags can make it that much easier to shop for healthy itemsand support environmental initiatives. It’ll just take some getting used to — and likely a couple of extra trips back to the car to retrieve the bags you forgot in the trunk.
Tags: New York state, plastic bag ban, sustainability, Wegman's
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