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Wegmans Warns of 'Unintended Consequences' to Cuomo Bag Ban

Retailer said proposed N.Y. state-wide bill would only increase the use of paper bags, which are also harmful to the environment

Wegmans voiced strong opposition to a proposed bill to ban single-use plastic bags at grocery stores, convenience stores and other retailers across the state of New York on Wednesday.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced a program bill that would ban bags earlier this week.

The retailer said it has long been Wegmans' position that "unintended consequences come from banning anything" in a statement obtained by Democrat and Chronicle, and that increasing the sale of reusable bags in-store is a better solution that would also reduce the use of single-use paper bags.

Wegmans argued that banning plastic grocery bags would only increase the use of paper bags, which "is not what’s best for the environment," the retailer said. Paper bags are heavier and take up more space than plastic, it said. 

"It takes seven tractor trailers to transport the same number of paper bags as plastic bags carried by one tractor trailer," the retailer said. "It also takes about 90[%] more resources and energy to make and recycle paper compared to plastic."

Wegmans said it will continue to encourage its shoppers to return their plastic bags for recycling, and that the plastic bags it uses are made from 40% recyclable material. It said close to 50% of its plastic bags were recycled in 2017. 

Additionally, Wegmans warned that even reusable bags can take a toll on the environment. 

"It’s important to consider the additional resources it takes to manufacture reusable bags," the retailer wrote in its statement. "If not used by consumers on a regular basis to replace paper or plastic bags, reusable bags are not better for the environment, and they are also not recyclable."

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