Delaware’s single-use plastic bag ban set to take effect Jan. 1

DELAWARE – Each year, the average Delawarean goes through 434 bags according to DNREC. That means the entire state is using almost half a billion bags per year. That’s why starting January 1st, single-use plastic bags will no longer be allowed at large retail stores in the state.

While the move will likely have a positive impact on the environment, some, like the owners of Hocker’s Super Center, aren’t happy about the timing of the change.

Gerry Hocker said, “This is just another slap in the face to the retailer, and particularly to the large retailer.”

Hocker feels the state should’ve delayed implementing the ban in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s because he feels reusable bags aren’t necessarily sanitary.

Hocker said, “If you saw some of the nasty bags that some customers bring in there, you don’t know where they’ve been.”

But the state insists that the chances of catching COVID from a reusable bag are low.

Adam Schlachter, a Program Manager at DNREC said, “We’ve reviewed a lot of the studies, actually all the studies that are out there on the reusable bags and what they all conclude is if the bag is sanitized, there is minimal risk of any disease transferring.”

Hocker feels, however, that you can’t count every customer to sanitize their bags before each use.

In response, the state said that any business that is truly concerned about the spread of COVID-19 should do the following: “We’re encouraging the stores to make the customer or allow the customer to bag the items themselves,” Schlachter said.

On top of reusable bags, the state says customers can use paper or cloth bags. But Hocker says he doesn’t feel right making his customers pay for new grocery bags in the wake of a pandemic.

“It’s going to create a burden for some of the lower income people who don’t have disposable income to go out and by 6 10 12 reusable bags,” he said.

This ban only affects retail stores that have more than 7,000 square feet as well as smaller stores that have at least three locations in Delaware of 3,000 square feet each or more.

All retail stores affected by the law are required to provide an At-Store Recycling program for plastic bags and other specific plastics, like cereal box liners, newspaper sleeves, and single-use produce or meat bags.

The drop-off locations should be visible and accessible within the store. Bags that are no longer reusable or unwanted should be recycled at these locations.

Businesses that don’t comply with these changes will face fines.


Categories: Delaware, Local News