Wegmans will phase out the use of plastic grocery bags across the supermarket company by the end of this year.

This has happened before in New York State, where a ban on carryout bags began in 2020.

But Wegmans announced Thursday that about 45 of the more than 100 stores in its chain still allow the use of disposable plastic bags, and the company will phase out the use of such bags over the next few months.

“We understand shoppers are used to receiving plastic bags at checkout and losing that option requires a significant change. We’re here to help our customers through this transition as we focus on what’s good for the environment,” said Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans Category Merchant for Packaging, Energy and Sustainability. “As we have encountered plastic bag legislation in many markets, we have learned that we can do more and we can have a bigger impact, together with our customers.”

Wegmans spokeswoman Tracy Van Auker said that in places where single-use bags have been phased out, the reaction has generally been positive.

“Clients have certainly responded well. Obviously, every time you eliminate a go-to option, for most customers, that requires a bit of behavioral change,” Van Auker said. “But overall the response has been great. And we see people bringing reusable bags for the majority of their groceries. »

Van Auker said that when Wegmans eliminates the use of bags, it’s possible to use reusable bags or buy a paper bag at a nickel each.

When this happens, proceeds from the sale of the paper bags are donated to each store’s local food bank and United Way. Wegmans said in 2021, it raised and donated more than $1.7 million from that bag load.

Wegmans said that in stores where the company has already phased out plastic bags, on average, paper bags are used for 20-25% of transactions, while the remaining 75-80% of customers use reusable bags. or no bag at all.

The company said that by eliminating plastic bags from the rest of its stores and focusing on transitioning customers to reusable bags, it prevents around 345 million single-use bags from entering circulation in a year. .

The elimination of single-use plastic grocery bags does not affect the continued use of smaller plastic bags for certain items such as meat and produce.