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Customer calls out popular grocery chain over produce section offering: 'I do wish they'd jump on the sustainability train'

"Really, Wegmans?"

"Really Wegmans?"

Photo Credit: iStock

Unnecessary plastic packaging on produce is becoming a trend and not one that shoppers seem to like. In particular, there's been a rash of individually wrapped potatoes in stores all over the world. Wegmans is unfortunately one of the companies seen in 2024 with this product in its produce aisle.

What happened?

One Redditor shared their experience shopping at a local Wegmans, where they found individually wrapped russet potatoes for sale. 

Individually-wrapped potatoes: "Really Wegmans?"
Photo Credit: Reddit

"Really, Wegmans? Tiny, individually wrapped potatoes?" they complained in their post on r/upstate_new_york.

Their photo shows a box full of bright orange plastic packages. They look like sleeves for microwave burritos or a similar product — but the package, which bears the Wegmans label, says it contains a russet potato. It also proclaims this "food you feel good about" and offers directions for putting the whole package into the microwave. Never mind the fact that a potato is one of the easiest foods to cook and has its own natural skin to contain it when microwaving.

This isn't the first time Wegmans has been called out for selling plastic-wrapped potatoes. A post from March 2023 shows the same product, complete with microwaving directions — all that's changed is the packaging. The new packaging likely qualifies as more total plastic in weight and volume in a landfill, which adds up when they are sold this way in the thousands.

Wegmans has also been taken to task for using unnecessary plastic packaging for other products. One commenter noted: "Wegmans doesn't seem to be on board with plastic waste reduction. Don't get me wrong, I love Wegmans, I look forward to shopping there every week, but I do wish they'd jump on the sustainability train with their packaging."

Why does plastic packaging matter?

First of all, microwaving it in plastic is not the safest way to cook a potato. While this packaging is theoretically designed to go in the microwave, many types of plastic leach dangerous chemicals when heated — even ones designed for food. Small fragments called microplastics may also break free and get in the food.

Besides that, there are the environmental effects. Microplastics aren't good for the water or soil, either, and animals often get hurt by getting stuck inside or trying to eat plastic trash. Even when it's correctly disposed of, some plastic can't be recycled, so it simply sits in a landfill for decades.

What is Wegmans doing about plastic waste?

Wegmans did not respond to The Cool Down's original request for comment about its plastic packaging.

However, the company's website claims it has reduced its virgin plastic use in the last eight years. Instead, it's adding recycled plastic, plant-based materials, and mineral fillers to its packaging and trying to use thinner packaging where possible.

What can I do about plastic waste?

Besides recycling plastic wherever possible, you can look for a grocery store or a local produce seller that has eco-friendly policies and doesn't use plastic packaging. The more you support plastic-free brands, the more pressure other companies are under to follow their example.

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