- Wegmans Food Markets is reducing the amount of paper and plastic from its packaging and replacing these materials with mineral fillers and renewable and recycled materials per, according to The Shelby Report. The retailer also is committed to eliminating potentially harmful chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA) and PVC from packaging materials when possible.
- As part of its commitment to sustainability, the retailer recently unveiled a new produce bag made from 100% plant-based renewable materials. In addition, it has reduced plastic in its rotisserie chicken packaging by 75%.
- “As often happens with sustainability initiatives, the changes we’re implementing and the progress we’re making aren’t always easy to see,” Jason Wadsworth, manager of sustainability for Wegmans, said in a statement. “For some of the sustainable packages we’ve introduced, the change has been very apparent to customers, while for others, they’d never know unless we told them.”
Positioning a brand as environmentally conscious is no longer just a bonus for retailers — it's a growing necessity. In recent studies, consumers have said they were willing to pay more for products that align with their personal beliefs and shop at stores that have a sustainability-focused mindset.
Some retailers are investing in sustainability strategies that are outside the box, but are attracting customers thanks to their efforts. Recent ideas have included working to end deforestation or save pollinator habitats. Others have attempted something new to align with Earth Day festivities.
Packaging is a good category for retailers to center their sustainability efforts. Grocers can position greener packaging as a reflection of their brand's commitment to the environment, and use the overhauls as an opportunity to improve design and overall appearance.
Wegmans has implemented a host of changes to its packaging per its sustainability efforts in recent years, saving 6 million pounds of plastic made from non-renewable fossil fuels since 2015. This amount roughly translates to 150 truckloads worth of plastic packaging saved from landfills, according to the company.
Packaging isn't the only area the retailer is determined to improve, either. For instance, in its Market Café, Wegmans' plastic utensils are now made of 30% plant-based materials and its napkins are made of 100% recycled content.
Other retailers may want to refer to Wegmans' example when implementing their own sustainability efforts. The retailer also works with food banks, is changing lighting in its stores to reduce energy use and has installed solar panels at several of its corporate office buildings. It's uncertain how much these changes are impacting overall sales, but the company is clearly at the forefront of being in tune with the interests of its customers.