In 2019, the Delaware General Assembly passed a law banning plastic carryout bags (82 Del. Laws c. 166) to help reduce beach and roadside litter, increase recycling efforts, and reduce the impact of plastic bags at regional recycling facilities that manage material from Delaware’s Universal Recycling program.
In 2021, the Delaware General Assembly updated that law expanding both the bags banned and the stores impacted by the law (83 Del. Laws c. 216).
Starting July 1, 2022, retail stores in Delaware will no longer provide plastic bags at checkout. The law reduces waste and limits the number of plastic bags that litter our roads and waterways. Choose a reusable bag, or bring your own, wherever you shop.
For those of you that use those bags as a car trash bag, road sick bag, trash can liner, doggy poop picker-upper, a laundry bag, a kitty litter pan liner, use it as packing material, for soiled diapers, for garden trash, to clean out the vacuum bag, to keep your beach towel clean, store your plunger in the bathroom, use it for auto maintenance clean up, stuffing for crafts, a clothespin holder, yard sale bags for customers, as plant protectors, for kitchen prep, to keep bread fresh, to keep lettuce fresh, to keep socks dry in the snow or a million other things life will soon change for you.
On January 1, 2021, a bill introduced by Gerald Brady of Wilmington’s 4th Representative District and signed into law by Governor John Carney will take effect. The new will expand upon the existing at-store recycling program regarding the use of single-use plastic bags. The existing requirements will continue, however, stores subject to this program will now be limited from providing single-use plastic bags for only specific uses thereby encouraging a shift to reusable bags.
The purpose of the law, as detailed in the preamble, is to clean up Delaware’s communities and watersheds, reduce stormwater and trash management costs to taxpayers, and promote the health and safety of watersheds, wildlife and humans, and the ecosystem’s food chain. On January 1, 2021, the bill enacts a ban on stores providing single-use plastic bags at check-out.
Proponents of the bills say that plastic bags end up as litter strewn across our communities, roadsides, parks, forests, rivers, and coastlines, and clog our stormwater management systems resulting in increased cleanup costs.
Less than 2,000 plastic bags were collected on Delaware’s coastal beaches during the 2018 International Coastal Cleanup Day, amid more than two tons of trash collected, according to the bill.
It’s not clear what stores will provide as an alternative.
If the move is back to paper bags that will likely raise the price of just about everything one buys.
The full bill is provided below.
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 7 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO RECYCLING AND WASTE REDUCTION.
WHEREAS, billions of plastic bags end up as litter strewn across our communities, roadsides, parks, forests, rivers and coastlines, and clog our storm water management systems resulting in increased cleanup costs; and
WHEREAS, 1,946 plastic bags were collected on Delaware’s coastal beaches during the 2018 International Coastal Cleanup Day, amid more than two tons of trash collected in just a few hours that day; and
WHEREAS, it is estimated that less than ten percent of plastic carryout bags are recycled or reused across the country, resulting in more than 3,500,000 tons of plastic bags thrown away or discarded annually; and
WHEREAS, single use plastic carryout bags have significant impacts on wildlife, causing injury and fatalities when turtles and other marine animals mistakenly ingest plastic; and
WHEREAS, plastic carryout bags are difficult to recycle, contaminate other material that is being processed for recycling and composting, and clog the machinery in recycling Materials Recovery Facilities causing daily delay and expense; and
WHEREAS, both retailers and communities can derive significant financial benefit when single-use plastic bags are no longer distributed to consumers, resulting in the elimination or reduction of litter cleanup, sewer/wastewater and recycling management costs; and
WHEREAS, single use plastic bags contribute a toll on human health and well-being as toxic plastic particles are now found in the food chain,
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Amend § 6099A, Title 7 of the Delaware Code by making deletions as shown by strike through and insertions as shown by underline as follows:
§ 6099A At-store recycling program
(a) For purposes of this subchapter, the following definitions shall apply:
(1) “Department” means the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
( 1 2) ”Manufacturer” means the producer of a plastic carryout bag sold to a Store.
( 2 3 ) ”Plastic carryout bag” means a plastic carryout bag provided by a store to a customer at the point of sale made from non-compostable plastic and not specifically designed and manufactured to be reusable .
( 3 4) ”Reusable bag” means either of the following a fabric or plastic carryout bag which meets all of the following requirements :
a. Is either a bag made of cloth or other fabric that has handles and is designed and manufactured to be used repeatedly , or b. is a durable plastic bag with handles that is at least 2.25 mils thick and
b. Is designed and manufactured to be used repeatedly for at least 125 uses.
c. Has a volume capacity of at least 4 gallons (equivalent to 15 liters or 924 cubic inches).
d. Is machine washable or made from a material that can be cleaned and disinfected.
e. Does not contain lead, cadmium, or any other toxic material that may pose a threat to public health. A reusable bag manufacturer may demonstrate compliance with this requirement by obtaining a no objection letter from the federal Food and Drug Administration.
f. Complies with Section 260.12 of Part 260 of Title 16 of the Code of Federal Regulations related to recyclable claims if the reusable grocery bag producer makes a claim that the reusable grocery bag is recyclable.
g. A reusable carryout bag made from plastic film shall also meet the following requirements:
(i) It shall be capable of carrying 22 pounds over a distance of 175 feet for a minimum of 125 uses and be at least 2.25 mils thick, measured according to the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard D6988-13.
(ii) It shall be recyclable in this state, and accepted for return at stores subject to the at-store recycling program
(5 6 ) ”Store” means a retail establishment, excluding a restaurant, engaged in the business of selling or exchanging goods and/or services for cash, barter or any form of consideration on the assumption that the purchaser of such goods and/or services has acquired the goods and/or services for ultimate consumption or use and not resale that provides plastic carryout bags to its customers in conjunction with the sale of such goods and/or services and that meets either of the following requirements:
a. Has at least 7,000 square feet of retail sales space, or
b. Has 3 or more stores or retail locations, each having at least 3,000 square feet of retail sales space, in the State.
(b) The store which provides plastic bags for exemptions listed in (e)(3) below shall establish an at-store recycling program pursuant to this section that permits a customer of the store to return clean and dry plastic carryout bags and film to the store.
(c) An at-store recycling program provided by a store shall include all of the following:
(1) By August 1, 2010, all plastic carryout bags provided by the store to a customer shall have printed or displayed on the bag, in a manner conspicuously visible to a consumer, the words “PLEASE RETURN THIS BAG TO A PARTICIPATING STORE FOR RECYCLING”, or a similar message encouraging the reuse or recycling of plastic carryout bags.
(1 2 ) A plastic carryout bag and film collection bin shall be placed at each store and shall be visible, easily accessible to the consumer, and clearly marked that the collection bin is available for the purpose of collecting and recycling plastic carryout bags.
(2 3 ) All plastic carryout bag s and film collected by the store shall be collected and recycled in a manner consistent with the intent of this section. In no instance, shall a store permit collected plastic carryout bags and film to be disposed of or to further any act other than the recycling of such bags.
(3 4 ) The store shall maintain records describing the collection and recycling of plastic carryout bag bags and film collected by such store and shall make the records available to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), upon request, to demonstrate compliance with this section.
(4 5 ) The store shall make reusable bags available to customers within the store, which bags may be purchased by such customer and used in lieu of using a plastic carryout bag or paper bag. This subsection is not applicable to a retail establishment specified pursuant to subsection (c) of this section above.
(e) Effective January 1, 2021 a Store as defined in (a)(5) shall not provide any single-use plastic carryout bag, as defined in Section (a), to a customer at the point of sale except as provided in this section:
(1) A Store may make available for purchase or distribution at the point of sale a reusable grocery bag that meets the requirements of Section (a)(4).
(2) A Store may make paper bags available for no cost or charge any price at their discretion
(3) A store may provide plastic carryout bags for any of the following purposes:
(a) bags used to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat or fish, flowers or potted plants, or other items to contain dampness,
(b) bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage, pet waste, or yard waste;
(c) bags used to contain live animals such as fish or insects sold in pet stores,
(d) bags used to transport chemical pesticides, drain-cleaning chemicals, or other caustic chemicals,
(e) nonhandled bags used to protect a purchased item from damaging or contaminating other purchased items when placed in a recycled paper bag, a reusable grocery bag, or a compostable plastic bag,
(f) bags provided to contain an unwrapped food item,
(g) nonhandled bags that are designed to be placed over articles of clothing on a hanger.
(4) Stores are encouraged to make reusable grocery bag(s) or paper bag(s) available at no cost at the point of sale to any customer participating either in the Delaware Food Stamp Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and/or the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.
( f e ) The manufacturer of a plastic carryout bag shall provide educational materials to all stores required to comply with this section to encourage the reduction, reuse, and recycling of plastic carryout bags and the stores shall place such materials in a conspicuous location, visible to the customers of such store.
( g f )(1) Unless expressly authorized by this section, a county, city, or other public agency shall not adopt, implement, or enforce an ordinance, resolution, regulation, or rule to do any of the following:
a. Require a store that is in compliance with this section to collect, transport, or recycle plastic carryout bags.
b. Impose a plastic carryout bag fee upon a store that is in compliance with this section.
b c . Impose auditing or reporting requirements upon a store that are in addition to those set forth in paragraph (d)(4) of this section.
(2) This section does not prohibit the adoption, implementation, or enforcement of any county, city or other local ordinance, resolution, regulation, or rule governing curbside or drop off recycling programs operated by, or pursuant to a contract with, a county, city, or other public agency, including any action relating to fees for these programs.
(3) This section does not affect any contract, franchise, permit, license, or other arrangement regarding the collection or recycling of solid waste or household hazardous waste.
( h g )(1) A violation of this section, with such determination thereof being made by the Department DNREC , shall result in civil liability or administrative penalty in an amount up to $500 for the first violation, up to $1,000 for the second violation, and up to $2,000 for the third, and each subsequent, violation.
(2) Any civil penalties collected in accordance with paragraph (g)(1) of this section shall be paid to the Department DNREC . The penalties collected pursuant to this section by the Department DNREC shall be expended by the Department DNREC , upon appropriation by the General Assembly, to assist in funding enforcement and furtherance of the intent of this section.
(i) All stores subject to this section shall register with the Department by June 30, 2018, on a form provided by the Department. Information required in the form will relate to compliance with this section.