Wegmans Food Markets Inc. became the first retailer to join the American Chemistry Council's group dedicated to the growth in polyethylene film recovery and recycling.
Wegmans Food Markets joins 14 other companies in ACC's Flexible Film Recycling Group. Shoppers at the grocery store chain's 81 stores return approximately 1.5 million pounds of plastic bags annually, and the company collects an additional 1.5 million pounds of plastic stretch and shrink wrap a year from shipping pallets.
All of that plastic is recycled to help make the company's plastic bags and other products such as durable backyard decking projects, the company said.
The store has collected plastic bags from customers since 1994.
“Recycling of plastic bags and film is one effective way to address environmental concerns,” said Jason Wadsworth, sustainability coordinator for Wegmans, in a statement. “Because of our closed-loop system, bags and film that customers return for recycling at our stores are made into new Wegmans bags, not litter.”
Shari Jackson, director of the Flexible Film Recycling Group, said in a statement that the retailer will have valuable insights into programs to increase recycling of plastic bags and wraps.
Jackson said the group is attempting to spur more recycling of PE film and plastic bags, saying the group “believes more can be done to spur significant growth in plastics film recycling.
“This is why we're working so determinedly to help grocers and retailers, which have the critical infrastructure for recycling plastic film, to maximize the collection of this valuable material by sharing tools, best practices and through consistent customer education,” Jackson said in the statement.