Attention Shoppers! Bring Your Own Bag Starting July 1

By Adam Schlachter and Barbara Blaier

Heading to the store soon? Besides your list, make sure to bring plenty of reusable bags. Effective July 1, the Plastic Carryout Bag Ban expands to all retail stores within Delaware. It completely bans plastic film carryout bags at checkout. Stores may provide paper bags at checkout, no bags at all, or they may sell their own reusable bags. Reusable bags are defined as cloth bags or durable fabric bags with stitched handles.

#BYOBagDE (Bring Your Own Bag Delaware)

Are you like many of us who leave our reusable bags in the car or at home? Here are some helpful suggestions:

  • Place your items back in your cart after checkout and bag them at your car or keep a box/laundry basket in the trunk to hold items.
  • If purchasing just a few items, why not skip the bag altogether?
  • First item on your shopping list: “Remember BAGS!”
  • When leaving home, sing the song “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes” substituting the words: “BAGS, Wallet, Keys & Phone.”
  • Keep your empty bags together and hang them on your front door. This step makes them easy to grab when you go shopping.
  • Have a carabiner? Clip your bags together and then clip them to your shopping cart at the store.
  • Remember to clean your bags often by washing or wiping down with a disinfectant cloth.

For Bag Geeks Only

Already using reusable bags when shopping? Try using reusable produce bags, too!

Maybe you have too many reusable bags. Make someone’s day and give an extra to a neighbor or the person behind you in line at the store. Instead of wrapping a present, give it in a reusable bag, making it two gifts in one.

Ban Background

The original Plastic Carryout Bag Ban passed in 2019 was signed by Governor Carney and went into effect on January 1, 2021. In 2021, the legislature enhanced the Plastic Carryout Bag Ban by completely removing plastic film carryout bags regardless of thickness as well as expanding the ban to all retail stores within Delaware. Restaurants can still use plastic carryout bags of any description and are not required to have an at At-Store Recycling Program.

Exempt Bags

Not all plastic film bags are banned under the Plastic Carryout Bag Ban. Plastic film bags typically found in stores for produce and other similar items are still allowed to be given out. However, any retailer that provides the exempt bags below is required to set up an At Store Recycling Program and it must be easily accessible to customers. These exemptions include:

  • Bags used to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat or fish, flowers or potted plants, or other items to contain dampness.
  • Bags used to contain live animals such as fish or insects sold in pet stores.
  • Bags used to transport chemical pesticides, drain-cleaning chemicals or other caustic chemicals.
  • Non-handled bags used to protect a purchased item from damaging or contaminating other purchased items when placed in a recycled paper bag or a reusable grocery bag.
  • Bags provided to contain an unwrapped food item.
  • Non-handled bags that are designed to be placed over articles of clothing on a hanger.
  • Bags used by customers inside a business to package loose items, such as nuts, ground coffee, grains, fruits, vegetables or candies.

The Bottom Line

Plan for the ban starting in July and remember to #BYOBagDE (Bring Your Own Bag Delaware). For more information go to for all the details.

Adam Schlachter is an environmental program manager with the DNREC Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances.

Barbara Blaier is an environmental scientist with the DNREC Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances.

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