Why ban single use plastic bags?
Plastics clog our waterways and hurt wildlife. During a 2018 clean up, 1,946 plastic bags were collected on Delaware’s coastal beaches. It is estimated that less than ten percent of plastic bags are currently recycled or reused across the country, resulting in more than 3,500,000 tons of plastic bags thrown away or discarded annually.
Which stores are affected?
The ban impacts the Delaware stores you visit on your shopping day, including chain convenience stores. Restaurants are exempt for now but keep an eye on Senate Bill 140. If passed in its current form, food establishments could no longer give out plastic straws without a request from customers, provide single-use plastic stirrers or picks, or serve ready-to-eat food in Styrofoam containers. Food establishments would need to replace these containers with environmentally-friendly alternatives; another important step in limiting the proliferation of single-use plastics.
Does that mean no bags at all?
No, the law now bans single use plastics. Retailers can choose to offer paper bags, or cloth bags, or a thicker type of plastic bag that is designed to be reusable. Remember, it is, and always has been the retailer’s choice to provide you with a bag for purchases at all.
We’re in a pandemic. Should I worry about reusing a bag?
There is no evidence to show that COVID can be spread by handling a plastic (or any other) bag. Bags should be treated like any other item you use and cleaned regularly. You can clean your bags with a wipe, or throw a cloth bag in the laundry.
What about balloons? Aren’t they a single use plastic as well?
Yes, balloons are a single use plastic and can have equally harmful effects on ecosystems and wildlife. What’s more, some balloon materials take even longer to break down than plastic bags. According to a recent study, balloons were found to be 32 times more lethal than any other litter for marine animals, given their attractive coloring.
The Delaware General Assembly voted this year to ban the intentional release of balloons starting in April 2022. Looking for an environmentally friendly alternative for your celebration? Try bubbles–just as pretty and no danger to wildlife.