House Passes Rep. Brady’s Plastic Bag Bill

DOVER – Legislation to limit availability of single-use plastic carryout bags passed the House overwhelming Tuesday.

Sponsored by Rep. Gerald Brady, 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.

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.

“I am pleased that the House of Representatives took this substantial step forward to limit the use of plastic bags in Delaware. We have an obligation to the future generations in our state to take action, and with this legislation we are showing we are serious about addressing this issue, said Rep. Brady, D-Wilmington West. “This is a measured, reasonable approach that will severely cut the number of plastic bags distributed throughout Delaware by focusing on large and chain retail stores. It is my hope that we will no longer see plastic bags waving in the wind, littering our environment and waterways.”

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 a few, small exceptions, including: 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.

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.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, three states have effectively enacted statewide bans on single-use plastic bags, while major cities such as Boston, Chicago and Seattle have also enacted similar reforms.

HB 130 heads to the Senate for consideration.