Wegmans will eliminate plastic bags in Fairfax Co.

With a new 5-cent surcharge for disposable plastic bags approved by Fairfax County, Virginia, going into effect after the first of the year, grocery chain Wegmans will stop offering plastic bags to its shoppers at stores in Fairfax, Alexandria, Tysons and Chantilly.

Wegmans will offer paper grocery bags for 5 cents each.

Fairfax County’s plastic bag legislation goes into effect Jan. 1. Arlington County and Alexandria approved a 5-cent charge for plastic grocery bags starting next year as well.

Wegmans has done the same in other markets where there are plastic bag surcharges. It eliminated plastic bags at both of its Richmond stores in 2019.

“By eliminating plastic bags and adding a charge for each paper bag, our hope is to incentivize the adoption of reusable bags, an approach that has proven successful for us in New York State and Richmond,” said Jason Wadsworth, Wegmans packaging, energy and sustainability merchant.

Wegmans introduced reusable bags in 2007.

“Environmental issues like pollution and water quality don’t respect political or geographic boundaries. They are shared concerns that affect all of us equally,” Fairfax County Board Chair Jeff McKay said in September, referring to the plastic bag legislation approved by Fairfax County, Arlington County and Alexandria.

Grocers are allowed to keep 2 cents out of every 5 cents collected on each disposable bag in the first year. After a year, that will decrease to 1 cent.

Wegmans said the amount collected from its paper bag charge will be donated to each store’s local United Way and food bank.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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