DELAWARE PLASTIC POLLUTION ACTION COALITION
The first plastic sandwich bags were introduced in 1957. Department stores started using plastic bags in the late 1970s and supermarket chains introduced the bags in the early 1980s. So, it was not too long ago that we actually didn't even use plastic bags. We can learn to live without them again.
THE FIRST STATE?
On August 17, 2009, Delaware’s Governor Jack Markell signed a new law that was aimed at promoting the recycling of plastic bags across the state. Championed by Rep. Valerie Longhurst, the law went into effect on December 1st, 2009 and required all stores with at least 7,000 square feet of retail space or at least three Delaware locations to create an in-store recycling program for plastic bags. Stores are also required to provide reusable bags for purchase and include a message encouraging customers to recycle their plastic bags. In this, Delaware was the third state to pass a mandatory plastic bag recycling program, behind California and New York.
This bill was set to sunset in December 2014, but BringYourOwnBag successfully led advocacy efforts to extend the law for another three years. It is set to sunset again in December 2018. The sunset deadline provides a timeline in which to take the next step. Plastic bags still cover our landscapes, and pollute our watersheds, clog our storm water systems and our recycling facilities, causing blight in our communities, added taxpayer expense, and delay/expense in our recycling system.
Delaware is poised to be the First State in the U.S. to take the step already taken by other countries, counties and cities - that is: either ban the bag altogether or place a mandatory fee on it to encourage the use of reusable bags. Reduce comes before Recycle.