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Total plastic bag ban begins July 1

Charlie Megginson Government, Headlines

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Delaware’s total plastic bag ban takes effect July 1. (DigitalSkillet)

Do you use reusable grocery store bags?

Beginning July 1, you’ll have to choose between reusable and paper — and there won’t be any other options.

Under Delaware’s 2019 plastic bag ban, stores were allowed to use the thicker 2.25 millimeter-thick plastic film bags, which were considered reusable under the law.

Last June, the General Assembly enhanced the state’s plastic bag ban to include all plastic film bags, regardless of thickness.

Starting July 1, retailers can choose to offer paper bags or reusable bags made from cloth or other durable fabric with stitched handles.

The law also allows retail stores to charge customers for these bags at checkout.

The only exception in the law allows restaurants to continue using plastic bags for carryout.

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According to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the goal of the enhanced bag ban is to reduce roadside, waterway and seaside litter, save valuable landfill space, increase recycling efforts and help recycling facilities avoid delays when plastic bags get stuck in their machinery.

“Prior to the enactment of this law in 2019, it was estimated that each Delawarean used approximately 434 plastic bags each year, many of which wound up as waste in our landfills,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin.

“By realigning the legislation to further limit the use of film carryout bags, we are reducing waste that all too often ends up along on our roadway, in our waterways and along our shorelines – all detrimental to our environment including harmful effects on our wildlife and marine creatures,” Garvin said.

All retail stores that continue to provide exempt bags are required to maintain an at-store recycling program for plastic and film bags, including cereal box liners, newspaper sleeves, and single-use produce or meat and fresh seafood bags.

Drop-off locations should be visible and accessible within the store.

DNREC Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances also reminds Delawareans that plastic bags should never be placed in the bins that are part of the state’s curbside recycling program, but should instead be returned to the stores the bags came from for recycling.

Consumers and retailers can find more information about the enhanced plastic bag ban at de.gov/bags.

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