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Reducing Plastic Pollution in Delaware

08 • 22 • 2023

Reducing Plastic Pollution in Delaware

Passed legislation that will reduce plastic pollution in Delaware.

After three years of effort, including sharing action alerts, calling elected officials, and testifying at hearings, the Delaware Chapter helped pass a bill that will reduce plastic pollution in Delaware.

Towards the end of 2020, chapter volunteers asked DE State senators to sponsor a bill banning foam in foodware containers as neighboring states had done. By May of 2021 they had a bill sponsored by DE State Senator Paradee that went even further, but that bill was not passed into law. 

Senatro Paradee once again introduced a bill in February, 2023. Senate Bill 51 bans EPS foam (commonly known as Styrofoam™) foodware such as “clamshells”, cups, and plates at restaurants, food trucks, and bars. It also bans plastic cocktail/coffee stirrers, as well as requiring plastic straws to be given out only upon request.

That bill was finally passed by the DE legislature on June 27, and signed into law on August 22, 2023 by Governor Carney. Surfrider is grateful for the leadership from Plastic Free Delaware to get this bill across the finish line.

EPS foam and straws are some of the most commonly found items in beach cleanups. These items break into tiny pieces, increasing toxin exposure to marine life and entering the food chain. Similar bills have already passed in MD, VA, NJ,DC,  and NY, and there are plenty of alternative products that food establishments can use instead of EPS foam foodware.

EPS foam (resin number 6) is not economically feasible to recycle as it has little to no value and high contamination from food residue. New York City’s Dept of Sanitation has done extensive research on the recyclability of EPS foam and found that, in the eight largest recycling programs in North American that collected EPS foam, none were recycling EPS foodware. EPS food containers pose a human health risk, as they can leach small amounts of the toxin styrene when they come into contact with warm food or drink, alcohol, oils, and acidic foods. 

This bill is a great step forward in helping keep Delaware clean and plastic free!