Bill To Tighten Plastic Bag Ban Moves Forward

Delaware lawmakers are strengthening the near-prohibition on single-use plastic bags that took effect at the start of the year.

The House approved a bill Wednesday (House Bill 212) that would close a loophole in which many larger stores or chains introduced slightly thicker plastic bags touted as reusable. The new legislation defines a reusable bag as made of certain cloth or other durable fabric – with stitched handles. Plastic bags would also have to reach a higher level of thickness to qualify as reusable.

“Shortly after the implementation of the state’s prohibition on single-use plastic bags, we realized the law of unintended consequences was occurring. We immediately received complaints from constituents, that new, thicker plastic bags were being provided by several stores. This practice was in clear violation of the spirit of the bill and our intent,” Representative Gerald Brady, D-Wilmington West said. “Unfortunately, the thicker bags only compounded the threat on our environment. It became apparent that further steps would be required to reduce the use of plastic bags, thus protecting our ecosystem, cleaning up our communities and purifying our watersheds”. 

Exemptions to the ban would continue: plastic bags can be used to wrap meat, fish, flowers or potted plants, live animals, and bags used to carry chemical pesticides, and bags placed over articles of clothing on a hanger.

The legislation goes to the State Senate for consideration.