Legislation limiting the availability of single-use plastic carryout bags passed the House by a wide margin.
Sponsored by Rep. Gerald Brady, D-Wilmington, HB 130 expands Delaware’s existing at-store recycling program by largely prohibiting single-use carryout plastic bags at large and chain stores. The House passed the bill 33-7.
A number of Republicans joined Democrats in passing the bill.
Delaware already requires large retail stores to establish at-store recycling receptacles so customers can return plastic bags.
Still, less than 10 percent of plastic carryout bags are recycled.
Under HB 130, stores with more than 7,000 square feet of retail sales space, or chains with three or more locations with each having at least 3,000 square feet of retail sales space would be affected. Restaurants would be excluded. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, those stores would not be permitted to provide “any single-use plastic carryout bag” to a customer at the point of sale.
The bill includes the following exceptions – bags used to wrap meat, fish, flowers or potted plants or that contain unwrapped food items; bags that contain live animals; bags used to transport chemical pesticides; and bags placed over articles of clothing on a hanger.
Gov. John Carney issued the following statement: “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. 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.”
Lawmakers amended the bill to make clear that HB 130 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 of HB 130. The only city of that size is Wilmington
The National Conference of State Legislatures, stated that three states have enacted statewide bans on single-use plastic bags, including two of the most heavily populated of the 50 – New York and California. Major cities such as Boston, Chicago and Seattle have also enacted similar ordinances.
HB 130 heads to the Senate for consideration. The path is less smooth for the bill since Democrats hold a slight majority.