After years of lobbying for the law and 17 months of preparation after it was passed, Delaware on Friday starts banning single-use plastic bags at the checkout.
The law, its exceptions, its implementation and its rationale are popular topics for rants and raves on the Facebook page of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, which is in charge of enforcing it.
The law’s biggest impact is on supermarkets, chain drugstores and large convenience stores. Small stores don’t have to comply, and some items (like fresh seafood) can still be legally sold in single-use plastic bags.
The law’s basic goal is for “less bags in the environment, our recycling program and ultimately the landfill,” DNREC said in response to one Facebook comment.
“Shoppers should check their store’s policy, but we’re encouraging stores to allow customers to bring their own reusable bags and follow best practices,” DNREC said.
There were no confirmed posts about any store that stops consumers from bringing in their own bags, but there were multiple posts about how stores are requiring consumers to bag their own purchases when they brought their own bags.
The “best practices” refers to the need to sanitize reusable bags, and each type calls for a different cleaning procedure.
If consumers don’t bring in their own bags, it’s a mixed bag on whether stores will sell or give away other types of bags, a News DE Live survey of big retailers found.
“They could choose to provide paper bags, or cloth bags or a thicker type of plastic bag that is designed to be reusable,” DNREC wrote. “Or stores could decide (as they always could have previously) not to provide bags to customers at all.”
Danielle Keefe said paper bags cost supermarkets 9 to 13 cents apiece and reusable bags cost more than the 10 cents that she said is charged. “There is no way Redner’s or any Supermarkets in Delaware can continue to use Paper Bags. … I know; I sell these items to Supermarkets in Delaware.”