[caption id="attachment_230105" align="aligncenter" width="1280"] Walmart will eliminate free bags at checkout lines in Delaware beginning in April. | PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA/MIKE MOZART[/caption]
Less than a year after switching from thicker plastic bags to paper bags following the closing of a regulatory loophole in Delaware, Walmart announced Thursday that it will stop providing any free bags at checkout or pickup next month.The elimination of single-use paper bags will begin in Delaware on Sunday, April 18.Walmart, the nation’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer, has 10 locations in the First State, running from Wilmington to Rehoboth Beach to Seaford.It is billing the bag elimination as part of its ongoing efforts to reduce waste, having already eliminated single-use paper and plastic bags in Canada and Mexico as well as Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, New York and Vermont, as of January – reducing its U.S. bag usage by about 1.2 billion annually. In addition to Delaware, Walmart will also cut the bags in Oregon and Washington stores this month.“Eliminating single-use bags in Delaware is part of our effort to reduce waste,” said Jane Ewing, senior vice president of Walmart Sustainability, in a statement announcing the move. “Our customers want to be engaged on this journey and we remain committed to making the sustainable choice the everyday choice.”To ease the transition for customers, Walmart will sell multiple types of reusable bags and containers throughout stores and at store registers, officials said. Customers will also be reminded to bring reusable bags through store signage, social media posts as well as the Walmart app. Walmart delivery orders will continue to utilize paper bags, but customers will have the option of purchasing reusable bags as well.In 2019, Delaware joined states like California, New Jersey and New York in banning single-use plastic bags in stores. But when retailers, including Walmart, started using thicker plastic bags to skirt the specifics of the law, the Delaware legislature passed another bill to close that loophole.That law, passed in 2021 and enacted inJuly 2022, specified “reusable bags” are those that are made of durable fabric and have stitched handles.Lawmakers are continuing a push to reduce waste in consumer spending with new bill seeking to continue waste reduction with a ban on single-use plastics and polystyrene foam containers in restaurants.Senate Bill 51, introduced on Feb.17 by Sen. Trey Paradee (D-Dover), would prohibit foam containers, plastic straws and beverage stirrers and more from dining establishments. Customers would be provided a plastic straw only on request. If passed, SB 51 would go in to effect on July 1, 2025.