Delaware took a step in the right direction a couple of years ago in banning one-use plastic bags that made their way into roadsides, trees, and waterways.
The law became effective on Jan. 1, but three Democratic legislators claim the measure is seriously flawed.
In the current legislation, Delaware went along with the 2.5-mil. width used by California, a pioneer in dealing with the one-use bags. Exemptions were made by Delaware for small retailers and restaurants.
However, the three legislators sponsoring the bill House Bill 212, Reps. Gerald Brady, D-Wilmington West; Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear; and Eric Morrison, D-Glasgow now view 2.25 width as a loophole.
Citing constituent complaints, they introduced House 212, which calls for bags to be about than four times that thickness.
HB 212 goes on to define a “reusable bag” as made of polypropylene fabric, PET non-woven fabric, nylon, cloth, cotton, jute, hemp product, or other washable fabric. The bag also must be made of cloth or other durable fabric that has stitched handles is designed to be used at least 125 times and has a capacity of at least four gallons.
That standard will pretty much force customers to bring their own bags or purchase their own at the store.
Based on my totally unscientific observations, the number of plastic bags along roadsides and even in trees decreased while overall litter has not.
It also takes time to change habits. Early on, it was easy to forget reusable bags. The habit is now ingrained among more of us.
Our household does recycle one-use plastic bags, which are still surprisingly common when exemptions for restaurants and small retailers are taken into account.
Granted, we are the exception to the rule, since the recycling rate for plastic bags is a dismal 10%.
The bags currently offered at Acme and other stores can be used more than once and we keep one around as a spare when buying one or two items.
The bottom line is that it is too soon to throw in the towel on the current legislation.
Moreover, the bill also comes at the end of the session, leaving no time for actually doing due diligence.
In the meantime, take it easy, drink lots of water and look in on friends and family who may be vulnerable to the heat. – Doug and Sharon
Editor’s note: The previous version of this story incorrectly listed mil. as a millimeter.