What to Know
- A new bill by Democratic state Rep. Gerald Brady would limit the use of plastic bags in Delaware.
- Certain retail stores and chains would be prevented from providing single-use plastic bags at checkout.
- HB 130 has the support of Gov. John Carney and if passed would go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.
Delaware could join a handful of states that restrict the use of plastic bags at large retailers and chain stores.
House bill, HB 130, proposed by state Rep. Gerald Brady, D-Wilmington, would prevent stores with more than 7,000 square feet of retail space, or chains with three or more stores each having 3,000 square feet or more of retail space, from providing single-use plastic bags at checkout.
Delaware already mandates that large retailers have at-store plastic bag recycling receptacles and that plastic bags be printed with recycling messages. Despite those measures, the state still only recycles less than 10 percent of the bags, "leaving more than 3.5 million tons of plastic bags to be discarded annually," Brady's office said in a statement announcing the proposed law.
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"The environmental impacts of single-use plastic bags are alarming, so it's critical we take steps now to mitigate the long-term costs before our ecosystem further deteriorates," Brady said.
The bill does carve out exceptions for certain types of bags, including those used to wrap meat, unwrapped food or flowers. Bags that contain live animals, are used to transport chemical pesticides or are placed over clothes on hangers - think visits to the dry cleaners - are also excepted.
The legislation also "encourages" retailers to make free reusable or paper bags available to low-income people like those enrolled in the state's food stamp or WIC programs.
If the law passes, Delaware would join California, Hawaii and New York as states with limited plastic bag use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Cities across the country, like Boston; Boulder, Colo.; Chicago; Los Angeles; New York; Portland, Maine; San Francisco and Seattle have passed their own local legislation banning or placing fees on plastic bags.
HB 130 has the backing of Gov. John Carney and has been sponsored in the Senate by Democratic Sen. Trey Paradee.
If passed, the law would go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.