March 27, 2019 Delaware's House & Senate pass House Concurrent Resolution 17

HCR17 recognizes the issues of plastic pollution and the role of plastic straws, and requires the Delaware Restaurant Association to report back by May 1, 2020 on voluntary efforts its members have taken to curb plastic pollution.

Sabin Lowe, a Plastic Free Delaware Board member and co-chair of the Newark Charter School Marine Science Club provided testimony before both the House and Senate in support of HCR17.   Extra special thanks to Rep. Paul Baumbach, Rep. Valerie Longhurst, and Sen. Trey Paradee for their leadership on this effort.



March 31, 2019


Legislation is expected to be introduced this Spring in the Delaware state legislature.  It proposes an outright ban on single use plastic bags at the larger retailers.  The action item now is to get calls and emails in to state Representatives and Senators and ask them to please sign on as co-sponsors.   FIND YOUR LEGISLATORS


Once the bill is scheduled before the House Natural Resources Committee we will send out a notice.   We hope to get as many folks of all ages – students encouraged!! - to attend and testify at the House and Senate Committee hearings.  Those representing organizations get 4 minutes, individuals get 2 minutes.  There will be a sign up clipboard as you enter the hearing room if you want to speak.  

FIND YOUR LEGISLATORS  (scroll all the way to the bottom)

Please send requests for support and co-sponsorship to your House and Senate legislators and share with your members/constituents as well.

Thank you in advance for your help.  Will let you know as soon as I have more details.



History of laws leading up to the present status on plastic bags in Delaware

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.

2017 - House Bill 215 

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.

2013 - House Bill 198 

Extended Sunset for 2009 law for three more years

2009 - House Bill 15

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. 


Bag Laws Elsewhere

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.

Map of U.S. bag laws

Map of U.S. bag laws