The current status is that plastic bags and film need to be taken back to large retailers to be recycled. This has been in place since 2009. We can do better. The rest of the world is leading the way.
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. Championed by Rep. Valerie Longhurst, the law went into effect on December 1st, 2009 and required all stores with at least 7,000 square feet of retail space or at least three Delaware locations to create an in-store recycling program for plastic bags. Stores are also required to provide reusable bags for purchase and include a message encouraging customers to recycle their plastic bags. In this, Delaware was the third state to pass a mandatory plastic bag recycling program, behind California and New York. Unfortunately, that is where the First State's leadership ended. No substantial reforms have been passed since to address the continuing blight of plastic bags. Plastic bags still continue 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.
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
Created requirements for large retailers (7,000 sq.ft. or more OR 3,000 sq.ft or more IF three or more locations) to provide recycling bins for plastic carryout bags and plastic film in prominent locations, and educational signage.
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.