Ban on plastic bags for businesses other than restaurants from July 1

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control advises retailers and buyers in the state that their bagging options are changing.

Starting July 1, Delaware retail stores, retail stores but not restaurants will no longer provide plastic bags at checkout. An update to the plastic bag ban, passed by the Delaware General Assembly last year, extends the 2019 ban to all retail stores, regardless of size, and prohibits the distribution or the sale of all plastic film take-out bags at the checkout. The previous law excluded small, off-chain stores from the mandate.

DNREC has also launched a marketing effort known as BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag.

As part of Delaware’s 2019 plastic bag ban, the law allowed plastic film bags 2.25 millimeters thick to be considered reusable. Last June, the Legislature strengthened the state’s plastic bag ban to include all plastic film take-out bags, regardless of thickness. Starting July 1, retailers can choose to offer paper bags or reusable bags made of cloth or other durable fabric with sewn-in handles. The law also allows retail stores to charge customers for the use of bags at checkout.

The DNREC encourages the use of fabric or fabric bags brought by customers to the shops where they shop, while advising that these reusable bags be washed or cleaned after each use by turning them inside out and wiping with a cleaner or disinfectant.

Single-use plastic bags were known to foul roadsides and waterways while being blown by the wind into trees and even power lines.

The objective of the enhanced bag ban is to reduce litter on roads, waterways and seaside; to save landfill space; to increase recycling efforts and help recycling facilities avoid delays when plastic bags get stuck in machines.

“Before this law was enacted in 2019, it was estimated that every Delawarean used about 434 plastic bags each year, many of which ended up as trash in our landfills,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “By realigning the legislation to further limit the use of film carrier bags, we are reducing the litter that too often ends up on our roads, in our waterways and along our shorelines – all of which harm our environment, including harmful effects on our wildlife and sea creatures.

All retail stores that continue to provide exempt bags are required to maintain an in-store recycling program for plastic and film bags, including cereal box liners, newspaper sleeves and single-use products or bags of fresh meat and seafood. Drop-off points must be visible and accessible in the store. Bags that are no longer reusable or no longer wanted should be recycled at these locations. DNREC’s Waste and Hazardous Substances Division is also reminding Delawares that plastic bags should never be placed in the bins that are part of the state’s curbside recycling program, but should instead be returned to stores. where the bags come from to be recycled.

Plastic bag recycling rates have been low, with some grocery stores not making recycling areas highly visible to those looking to recycle bags.

Consumers and retailers can find more information about the enhanced plastic bag ban at de.gov/bags.

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