Most Delawareans won’t be able to take their groceries home in a disposable plastic bag starting Friday.
The plastic bag ban Gov. John Carney signed in July 2019 goes into effect Jan. 1.
It bars supermarkets and other stores larger than 7,000 square feet or with more than two 3,000-square foot Delaware locations from giving out single-use plastic bags at checkout. These stores can still give out or sell paper and thicker, reusable plastic bags to customers — and small produce bags inside stores are still allowed.
Customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags to take groceries home in.
Adam Schlachter, a program manager at the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), says the ban should help Delaware’s environment.
“Plastic bags are unfortunately pervasive throughout our waterways and on our roads,” said Schlachter. “The fact that the bag that they’ll be getting at the store is now reusable, hopefully that will encourage them to do that, and therefore they won’t just leave them.”
Schlachter adds that the ban should reduce waste overall.
“The average Delawarean is currently using about 434 bags per year, per person,” he said. “The majority of those unfortunately are going into the landfill now. Anytime that we can encourage a larger bag that can be reused, hopefully the whole overall quantity will drop, and therefore what will wind up going to the landfill will go down.”
The stores affected by Delaware's ban are also required to provide a recycling bin for plastic bags and film.
Eight other states have similar bans already in effect or upcoming.