ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Wegmans here has announced that it is increasing the availability of sustainable packaging and sustainable containers in its fresh food areas, according to the company's website. In her weekly online column, Wegmans' vice president of consumer affairs, Mary Ellen Burris, said that the new containers had been introduced partly as a result of shopper input.
“A ‘green’ comment we get from shoppers is about the packaging of food bought in fresh food areas, like our Market Café and Produce [departments],” Burris wrote. “We wanted you to know that we're working on this, and that changes are being made. A recent step: Change all the Asian Wokery Bar food containers (the little red boxes) from pure, bleached paper to those made of 100% recycled paper (35% is post consumer paper; the rest is scrap paper generated during manufacturing). The new boxes perform just like the “old” ones; only the color now is ‘Kraft’ or brown. On the salad and food bars, we're adding a ‘green’ choice; a similar material of 100% recycled paper.”
Burris added that “all of [Wegmans'] merchants and buyers” are working toward new packaging alternatives, and that Wegmans this summer had hosted a two-day packaging summit to examine all of the materials used by the company and its suppliers.
“The objective was to see where we could reduce packaging containers by either elimination or sharing similar ones across multiple departments,” Burris explained. “Next in priority was to determine where packaging could be made using a renewable resource (like recycled paper or sources like sugar cane or grasses as in our fish fry containers). Then, to consider where the type of plastic could be shifted to materials customers could put into curbside recycling,” based on the No. 1 and No. 2 HDPE plastics recycling available in customers' residential areas.
Finally, Burris noted that rising prices for petroleum-based packaging products, combined with rising transportation costs, have given companies like Wegmans a greater incentive to reduce costs while making changes that will have a positive environmental impact.