Delaware is the newest state in the Union to ban single-use plastic bags. With the Christina River to his back, Governor John Carney signed House Bill 130 into law on July 29th, which will take effect on January 1st, 2021. Governor Carney also signed in Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 5, which increases fines for illegal dumping, and establishes a Litter Investigation and Enforcement Fund.
These newest bills are the result of initiatives like Governor Carney’s Keep DE Litter Free, and the work of anti-pollution activists like Dee Durham, co-founder of Plastic Free Delaware. Durham began her fight to ban single-use plastic bags in Delaware over a decade ago, after the state’s 2009 recycling law failed to change shoppers’ behavior.
Plastic bags are the fourth most commonly found form of litter around the world.
According to Durham, less than 10 percent of single-use plastic bags are recycled, leaving the rest to end up in the landfill, on roads, or in waters. Delaware state Senator Stephanie Hansen was quoted as saying that plastic bags are the fourth most commonly found form of litter around the world.
While Delaware’s incoming ban on plastic bags deals a major blow against plastic waste, Dee Durham calls the bill “imperfect”, since it does not place fees on single-use paper bags at stores. Durham would ideally like to see the new law encourage people to switch to reusable bags. Nevertheless, Durham is continuing her fight against single-use waste. One of the next items on her list of targets will be plastic straws, which seems natural, since switches from plastic bags and straws to paper straws and bags often go hand-in-hand.
Many Delawareans are already making the switch from single-use plastic to reusable shopping bags.
On January 1st of 2021, residents of Delaware will officially join the other 55 percent of the world’s population, who live in places with similar plastic bag bans. While the bill has yet to take effect, Delawareans are already making the switch from single-use plastic to reusable shopping bags. With a tougher stance on plastic bags, Delaware could be one step closer to moving away from plastic straws and foam tableware, and switching to more sustainable paper straws.
When the bill goes into law, Delaware will join New York, Hawaii and California in banning plastic bags. If Delaware’s fight against plastic waste continues succeeding, the state could be the first in the Union to enact a full ban on single-use plastic straws. For now, other states have only banned restaurants from handing out straws, unless requested. A full plastic straw ban could make Delaware a small state with a big impact on the Midatlantic region, and the rest of America. Should this happen, the future for the paper straw in its birth region looks bright.