September 30, 2021
In June, House Bill 212, as amended, was passed by the Delaware State House and Senate. Special thanks are extended to the primary sponsors and leaders on the legislation, Rep. Gerald Brady, Rep. Valerie Longhurst, Rep. Eric Morrison, and Senator Kyle Gay. Governor John Carney signed HB212 into law on September 30, 2021.
HB212 closes the inadvertent loophole created when 2019's HB130 law which went into effect on January 1st allowing plastic bags greater than 2.25 mils thick. It now clarifies the definition of truly reusable bags, largely by the definition including requisite “stitched handles” following the model set by neighboring New Jersey. HB212 also expands the law to all size stores and not just the largest retailers. It will take effect July 1, 2022.
In 2019, House Bill 130 was passed which banned single use plastic bags up to 2.25 mils thick from being used at the largest retailers across Delaware (those 7,000 sq.ft. or larger, and those with three or more locations of at least 3,000 sq.ft.). This new law became effective on January 1, 2021. Thank you to the prime sponsors and leaders on this important piece of legislation: Rep. Gerald Brady, Rep. Valerie Longhurst, and Sen. Trey Paradee.
Dover, DE (June 6, 2019) –
This afternoon Delaware’s State Senate passed House Bill 130 which will ban single use plastic bags as of January 1, 2021 and will join California, New York and Vermont as the states which have passed legislation to address the growing crisis of plastic pollution. Governor Carney has pledged to sign the bill into law.
House Bill 130 introduced by Representative Brady, and co-sponsored by Senator Trey Paradee, moves the existing at-store recycling program regarding the use of single-use plastic bags to a new level by actually banning the use of thin plastic bags by large retailers. The bill allows for several exceptions such as meat. The goal is to encourage a shift to to reusable bags. Additionally, the bill aims to clean up Delaware’s communities and watersheds, reduce storm water and trash management costs to taxpayers, and promote the health and safety of watersheds, wildlife and humans, and the ecosystem’s food chain.
According to Dee Durham, co-founder and co-chair of Plastic Free Delaware, an environmental group focused on education and advocacy on issues surrounding plastic pollution in Delaware, “millions 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.” Additionally, Plastic Free Delaware contends that single-use plastic bags contribute a toll on human health and well-being as toxic plastic particles are now being found in the food chain.
The insidious development of a “disposable” culture is exemplified by the exponential growth in the use - and abuse - of single-use plastics. Our communities, roadsides and marine environments are choking in trash and plastic litter. It is estimated that the average American uses 500 plastic carryout bags annually. Single use plastics are made from natural gas or petroleum, a fossil fuel in limited supply with extensive environmental impacts in its extraction, production, and transportation.
Along Delaware's coastlines, despite the current voluntary recycling law put in place in 2009, plastic carryout bags remain one of the most prevalent and pervasive types of litter found annually during the annual Coastal Cleanup which is only three hours each September. Statistics maintained by Delaware’s Recycling Public Advisory Council indicate that the current law has not achieved its goal of shifting shoppers’ norms to reusable bags. In addition, plastic is the most prevalent item found in a 2018 study of Delaware’s roadside litter.
Plastic Free Delaware applauds Rep. Brady and Sen. Paradee and the other legislative leaders for tackling the crisis of plastic pollution with this first step addressing single use plastic bags.
Plastic Free Delaware is the only statewide organization focused on addressing the scourge of plastic pollution in Delaware by addressing the root causes through education, awareness building, and advocacy initiatives with a current focus on single-use plastic bags, straws, polystyrene, and balloons, for the health and benefit of animals, humans, our communities and our environment.
of plastic bags are reused or recycled. So, more than 90% are ending up in the landfill or worse, out in our communities and environment.
The first plastic sandwich bags were introduced in 1957. Department stores started using plastic bags in the late 1970s and supermarket chains introduced the bags in the early 1980s. So, it was not too long ago that we actually didn't even use plastic bags. We can learn to live without them again.
Kid you not, the comment Plastic Free Delaware receives most often when discussing a bag ban or fee is that "but I use them for doggy duty."
1.) see #1 above (less than 10% are reused or recycled)
2.) Do you realize that they are not free? Consumers are paying for these bags now, by placing a mandatory fee on them we are simply externalizing the cost and giving customers a choice.
“Disposable” plastic bags:
[i] Researchers have commonly found plastic bags in the digestive tracts of dead sea turtles. [Source: See N. Mrosovsky et al., Leatherback Turtles: The Menace of Plastic, 58 MARINE POLLUTION BULL. 287, 287-88 (2009) (noting that 37.2% of Leatherback turtle necropsies from 1968 to 2009 showed plastic in their stomachs, and plastic bags were the most commonly found item).
[ii] National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2011; O'Brine and Thompson, 2010.
[iii] Andrady, 2011; Betts, 2008; Cole et al., 2011; Derriak, 2002; Moore et al., 2001; Moore, 2008; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2011; United Nations Environment Programme, 2009; Zarfl and Matthies, 2010.
[iv] True, 2012.
Since its founding in 2010, Plastic Free Delaware has been focused on raising awareness about the environmental impacts of single-use plastic bags, encouraging Delawareans to switch to reusable bags, and implement policy changes to mirror laws from across the globe which address the unsustainable use of plastic bags.
Do you know where to properly recycle your plastic bags and film? NOT in your curbside bin! They need to go back to a large retailer in Delaware (grocery stores, drug stores, etc), but were you aware, LESS THAN 10% of plastic carryout bags are reused or properly recycled?
Despite the recycling law implemented in 2009, the rate that Delawareans recycle their plastic bags has not changed consistently for the better.
Learn more about the current law on plastic bags, the history of legislation to this point, and current single use plastic legislation being considered.
This continually growing list of organizations has endorsed a call to legislative action on plastic bags in Delaware.
Thank you to all of the supporters and advocates who have been integral to
PFD's achievements to date!
We, the undersigned, support statewide action to curtail the provision by retail stores of free "single-use" plastic bags and we urge statewide elected officials to pass legislation to that effect. This action will promote the health and safety of wildlife and watersheds, reduce toxins in our food chain, protect the natural beauty of our communities, conserve our resources, and reduce trash and storm water management costs to taxpayers:
Bethany Beach Chamber of Commerce
Brandywine Sprouts, Roots & Shoots Chapter of the Jane Goodall Institute
Bucktoe Creek Preserve
Center for the Inland Bays
Citizens’ Climate Lobby-Lower DE
Claude E. Phillips Herbarium, at DE State University
The Claymont Dust Study Team
Clean Air Council
Council of Civic Organizations of Brandywine Hundred (CCOBH)
Delaware Alliance for Community Advancement
Delaware Audubon Society
Delaware Center for Horticulture
Delaware Clean Water Action
Delaware Interfaith Power & Light
Delaware Local Food Exchange
Delaware Nature Society
Delaware Plastic Pollution Action Coalition
Delaware Recycling Public Advisory Council (RPAC)
Delaware Riverkeeper Network
Delaware Votes for Animals
Delaware Zoological Society
Delawareans for Social and Economic Justice
Delmarva Ornithological Society
Elks Creek Watershed Association
Episcopal Diocese of Delaware
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Wilmington
Green Party Delaware
Harvest Market Natural Foods
Humane Society of the United States of America
Inland Bays Foundation
The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County
League of Women Voters, Delaware
Lewes Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center
MERR Institute, Inc.
NAACP, Newark Branch
Nurses Healing Our Planet, Delaware Nurses Association
OLLI Eco Team
Old Brandywine Village
Plastic Pollution Coalition
Progressive Democrats for Delaware
Rehoboth Beach Chamber
Sierra Club, Delaware Chapter
Students for the Environment (University of Delaware)
Surfrider Foundation, Delaware Chapter
Ten Thousand Villages, Wilmington
The 5 Gyres Institute
The Nature Conservancy, Delaware Chapter
White Clay Watershed Association
Wilmington City Council
Wilmington in Transition
Delaware Way, Delaware Earth Day News And Events Plus Wide Support For Single-Use Plastic Ban Legislation!
Delaware Online, Delaware might be the next state to ban plastic shopping bags
NBC 10 News, New Bill Would Restrict the Use of Plastic Bags in Delaware
WDEL, VIDEO | Plastic, single-use plastic bags targeted for partial ban in Delaware
WBOC, Delaware Eyes Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags
Delaware 105.9 FM, New bill would seriously limit plastic bag use in Delaware
Delaware Business Now, Bill aims to end retail plastic bag use by 2021
Plastic Bags Elsewhere
WHYY, What other states are doing about plastic bags — and what might happen with Pa.’s proposed ban
Delaware Public Media, Are Plastic Bag Bans Garbage?
2018-4-27 CAPE GAZETTE - NAACP Youth Explore Clean Water Issues
22017-12-7 DELAWARE PUBLIC MEDIA - With help from UD class, Lewes businesses consider alternatives for plastic bags
2016-5-4 DELAWARE PUBLIC MEDIA - Plastic Bag fee Lifted Out of Committee
2016-4-24 NEWS JOURNAL - Guinness World Record Bag Ball
2016-3-6 WHYY Newsworks - Delaware Shoppers May Have to Pay for Plastic
2016-3-7 WDEL Delaware to consider 5 cent fee
2016-2-23 NEWS JOURNAL Wilmington City Council Supports Five Cent Fee
2016-1-22 NEWS JOURNAL Editorial - Doerffler Letter
2015-5-27 DELAWARE PUBLIC MEDIA - Legislation Will Charge Fee for Plastic Bags
2012-5-23 NEWS JOURNAL Kids Pitch: Ditch the Plastic Ba
Surfrider Foundation Rise Above Plastics Campaign
Check out this great toolkit resource from Surfrider!
My Plastic-Free Life Plastic Free Schools
NOAA Marine Debris Program Environmental Protection Agency
100 Steps to a Plastic Free Life
The sew-a-thon project takes donated upholstery fabric and repurposes it into reusable cloth shopping bags. Since May 2019, PFD volunteers have been making and giving away reusable cloth bags to food banks for their clients. We have made and distributed more than 400 bags so far.
The three goals for this program are to provide free, reusable grocery bags to those who are economically vulnerable, to keep fabric out of the landfills, and to keep single-use plastic out of the environment.
The initial sewing project is the Morsbags program, a movement in Europe and the United Kingdom. Each reusable bag has the potential to eliminate hundreds of plastic bags over its lifetime, which can keep plastic out of our oceans and other waterways. Morsbags are 20 inches long and 18 inches wide, and take about a half yard of fabric to make. Cloth comes from repurposed fabric, old curtains, and other sturdy medium-weight cotton cloth. Plastic Free Delaware and Zero Waste First State set up groups of volunteers to sew at various community locations and supplies everything needed to sew the bags. We are recruiting volunteers who already know how to sew and those who are willing to learn how to sew bags. We plan on training and organizing start-up groups throughout Delaware.
Participating Food Banks
Newark Area Welfare Committee
St Patrick’s Center in Wilmington
Non Profit Partners
Sew-A-Thon Events ON HOLD DUE TO COVID RESTRICTIONS
(preregistration required space is limited & reserve a sewing machine if you are not bringing your own)
To donate, volunteer to make Morsbags, or to schedule a sew-a-thon for the bags, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the help of more than 16 schools, church groups and many other teams and individuals, a Guinness World Record was set for the World's Largest Plastic Bag Ball!
The event brought lots of media attention to the issue and reached thousands of students, teachers, and families on issues surround plastic pollution, recycling and caring for our Earth.
Thanks to a decade of advocacy by Plastic Free Delaware and many other volunteers, as well as the leadership of State Rep. Valerie Longhurst, Rep. Gerald Brady, and Sen. Trey Paradee, as of January 1, 2021, "single use" plastic carryout bags less than 2.25 mls thick cannot be sold or distributed by large retailers in Delaware. Large retailers must also continue to offer the recycling bins for plastic bags and film as despite the new law these will not evaporate from our lives.
2021 - House Bill 212
Passed by both the House and Senate in June 2021, and signed by the Governor in September 2021. Redefines allowable reusable bags as having stitched handles and expands law to all stores. Effective date 7/1/2022.
2019 - House Bill 130
Passed and signed into law, making Delaware the fourth state in the U.S. to pass a law to address plastic bag pollution. Went into effect 1/1/2021. The new law impacts large retailers (more than 7,000 sq.ft or ones with three or more locations of 3,000 sq.ft. or more). Only addresses thin plastic bags less than 2.25 mls thick. Time will tell if this new law significantly addresses the problem, or if it needs to be strengthened further.
Made the current law regarding recycling bins at large retailers permanent (deleted the sunset clause), and added a reporting requirement for large retailers to report annually the # of single-use carryout bags they distribute.
2015-2016 - House Bill 202 (DID NOT PASS)
Would have placed a 5 cent fee on plastic carryout bags at large retailers. Had widespread bipartisan support. Passed House Natural Resources Committee unanimously.
Extended Sunset for 2009 law for three more years
On August 17, 2009, Delaware’s Governor Jack Markell signed a new law that was aimed at promoting the recycling of plastic bags across the state. It created requirements for large retailers (7,000 sq.ft. or those with three or more locations of 3,000 sq.ft or more) to provide recycling bins for plastic carryout bags and plastic film in prominent locations, and educational signage. Championed by Rep. Valerie Longhurst, the law went into effect on December 1st, 2009. Stores were also required to provide reusable bags for purchase and include a message encouraging customers to recycle their plastic bags. With this, Delaware was the third state to pass a mandatory plastic bag recycling program, behind California and New York. Yet over the subsequent years, plastic bags continued to cover our landscapes, pollute our watersheds, clog our storm water systems and our recycling facilities, causing blight in our communities, added taxpayer expense, and delay/expense in our recycling system.
2009 - Legislation led by Rep. Valerie Longhurst established the at-store plastic bag and film recycling program.
It is estimated that more than 54% of the world's population is now covered under laws either completely banning plastic bag or laws placing fees on bags which greatly reduces their use but provides shoppers options and simply externalizes an existing cost.
In the U.S., California has passed a statewide law and Hawaii is fully covered by county laws. Several other states are considering laws. Many other counties and cities also have laws banning or placing fees on single use plastic bags, including Washington D.C., Boston and Chicago.
HERE is a list of state and local laws in the U.S. And THIS SITE and THIS SITE also keep track of existing laws.