Legislation limiting the availability of single-use plastic carryout bags overwhelming passes in the Delaware House of Representatives.
House Bill 130 would expand Delaware's existing at-store recycling program by essentially prohibiting single-use carryout plastic bags at large and chain stores.
Stores with more than 7,000 square feet of retail space, or chains with three or more locations with each one being at least 3,000 square feet would be affected. Restaurants would be excluded.
Delaware already requires large retail stores to establish at-store recycling receptacles so customers can return plastic bags.
Plastic carryout bags are also required to have labels that contain printed recycling messaging. Even so, plastic carryout bags are recycled at alarmingly low rates – less than 10 percent – leaving more than 3.5 million tons of plastic bags to be discarded annually.
The bill includes a few, small exceptions including bags used to wrap meat, fish, flowers, potted plants or that contain unwrapped food items as well as other exceptions.
The bill was amended to make clear that it does not restrict or prohibit a city with more than 50,000 residents to enact a law requiring stores in excess of 500 square feet to comply with the requirements.
"Plastic bags are a significant source of litter in our state - stuck in trees and discarded on the side of the road. We know that very few plastic bags are recycled and many of them end up as litter," said Governor John Carney in a statement. "I want to thank members of the House for their vote to pass this legislation, which will help clean up our state and give us another tool to protect our environment. Thank you to Representative Brady for his leadership on this issue, and I look forward to the Senate taking up this legislation."
The bill passed the house by a 33-to-7 vote and now goes to the Senate.