Starting July 1, retailers can choose to offer paper bags, or reusable bags made from cloth or other durable fabric with stitched handles.
New Plastic Bag Ban goes into effect in Delaware starting July 1, 2022. While the ban mostly affects retailers for packaging groceries and consumer goods, here’s what you need to know about the ban and how it affects you and your recycling efforts.
Starting July 1, retail stores in Delaware – all retail stores except restaurants – will no longer provide plastic bags at checkout. An updated plastic bag ban, passed by the Delaware General Assembly in 2021, expands the 2019 plastic bag ban to include all retail stores (with restaurants again the exception) regardless of size, and bans the distribution or sale of all plastic film carryout bags at checkout.
Under Delaware’s 2019 plastic bag ban, the law allowed 2.25 millimeter-thick plastic film bags to be considered reusable. Last June, the legislature enhanced the state’s plastic bag ban to include all plastic film carryout bags regardless of thickness.
Starting July 1, retailers can choose to offer paper bags, or reusable bags made from cloth or other durable fabric with stitched handles. The law also allows retail stores to charge customers for these bags at checkout.
While most stores have cloth or fabric bags for sale, consumers can bring their own cloth or fabric bags but be sure to wash them after each use or at least turn them inside out and wipe them down with a cleaning agent or disinfectant.
According to a news release from the Department Of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the goal of the enhanced bag ban is to reduce roadside, waterway and seaside litter; to save valuable landfill space; to increase recycling efforts; and to help recycling facilities avoid delays when plastic bags get stuck in their machinery.
”Prior to the enactment of this law in 2019, it was estimated that each Delawarean used approximately 434 plastic bags each year, many of which wound up as waste in our landfills,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “By realigning the legislation to further limit the use of film carryout bags, we are reducing waste that all too often ends up along on our roadway, in our waterways and along our shorelines – all detrimental to our environment including harmful effects on our wildlife and marine creatures.”
DNREC also said that all retail stores that continue to provide exempt bags are required to maintain an At-Store Recycling program for plastic and film bags, including cereal box liners, newspaper sleeves, and single-use produce or meat and fresh seafood bags. The drop-off locations should be visible and accessible within the store. Bags that are no longer reusable or unwanted should be recycled at these locations.
DNREC Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances also reminds Delawareans 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 the stores the bags came from for recycling.
Recycle Plastic Bags at At-Store Recycling Drop-off Locations
Plastic bags and film should not go in curbside recycling carts at home. Instead, they should be returned to the store to be recycled.
› All retail stores affected by this law must continue to provide an At-Store Recycling program for plastic bags and film. This drop-off location should be visible and accessible within the store.
› The bins are typically at the store’s entrance or by its customer service area.
› All of the bags that can’t be reused anymore should be recycled at these locations.
Consumers and retailers can find more information about the enhanced plastic bag ban at de.gov/bags.