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Delay requests refused, so ban on plastic bags starts Jan. 1

‘All stores will suggest you bring a recyclable bag,’ a trade group executive said, and if you do, ‘you will be asked to bag your own groceries.’

A request to delay Delaware’s ban of most single-use plastic bags was turned down Thursday, the leader of two trade groups said, and so was a request to delay new rules on in-store recycling. The ban and all its accompanying regulations start Jan. 1.

Julie Miro Wenger is executive director of the Delaware Food Industry Council, the Delaware Association of Chain Drug Stores and Keep Delaware Beautiful. She said that she had asked the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to delay the ban by six months and to delay a requirement that stores take back and recycle single-use bags from consumers until 30 days after the pandemic state of emergency ends.

Both requests were turned down, she said, and she was told there were no other requests that would affect the start of the ban.

“We are fully supportive of a ban,” Miro said, noting that her trade groups represent all major pharmacies in the state and about 80% of food retailers.


The ban spells out multiple exceptions, such as small stores and specialty items, but it clearly targets the checkout line at chain supermarkets, drugstores and convenience stores.

The companies that she represents are concerned about the recycling mandate. Early on during the pandemic, when it was less clear how COVID-19 was spread, “quite a number” of retailers removed bins to collect bags, she said. Since then, “many” have restored the bins.

Along the way, they have reported that consumers are incorrectly and thoughtlessly disposing of medical gloves and masks in the recycling bins.

They were also concerned that adding rules about bags will further clutter all the newish messaging that shoppers now encounter about masks, one-way aisles and social distancing.


Starting Jan. 1, some stores will offer paper bags, for free or at a cost; some will off plastic bags that are at least 2.25 mils thick for free or at a cost; and some will offer both, she said.

“All stores will suggest you bring a recyclable bag,” she said, and if you do, “you will be asked to bag your own groceries.”

Miro said that she has not surveyed stores about their paper-or-thicker-plastic plans, but she noted that paper bags are harder to get, with deliveries taking up to 28 weeks for the quantities that stores need.

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