WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Wegmans plastic bag ban starts January 27

Jan 7, 2020
Originally published on January 6, 2020 1:48 pm

Wegmans shoppers will no longer be able to carry their groceries home in the store's recognizable brown plastic bags at the end of January.  

The Rochester-based supermarket chain is removing single-use plastic bags from its New York stores on January 27, ahead of a statewide ban that takes effect on March 1.

Customers will have two choices: bring their own bags - which Wegmans is encouraging them to do - or request paper bags, which come with a 5-cent fee per bag. Customers who receive SNAP or WIC benefits are exempt from the fee.

In counties or municipalities that are not opting into the 5-cent fee, Wegmans says the money collected from the fees will be donated to the local food bank serving each region.

Plastic bags will still be allowed for uncooked meat, bulk items, sliced or prepared foods, newspapers, prescription drugs, and carry out orders from restaurants or markets.

The plastic bag ban was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Earth Day 2019. Supporters say eliminating the single-use bags will reduce litter and greenhouse gas emissions, plus protect the environment.

Wegmans debuted the no-plastic policy at its Corning and Ithaca stores and called the pilot program successful.

A statement from Tops Markets, says that chain plans to follow the schedule outlined by the state, and eliminate the plastic bag use as of March 1.

The company says that will allow shoppers time to make any necessary adjustments. Tops says as it stands now, shoppers have a wide selection of bags too choose from including their reusable bags and the Tops Totes for Change bags where a portion of the proceeds go back to local charities in the community.

Tops says that when the law takes effect in March, it will continue to offer customers paper bag options for five cents with a portion of the proceeds going back to local charities.

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