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Delaware Senate Democrats

Sen. Paradee files bill to limit beverage container rings and other single-use plastics in Delaware

April 11, 2024

DOVER – Continuing the General Assembly’s work to eliminate plastic litter from Delaware’s greenspaces and waterways, lawmakers on Thursday introduced legislation to curtail the use of beverage container rings, plastic shrink wrap and other plastic connectors commonly used to package bottles and cans.

Sponsored by Sen. Trey Paradee, Senate Bill 263 would prohibit the sale of beverages packaged in rings or other plastic connectors in Delaware, starting on July 1, 2025. The bill would not impact aseptic containers, such as juice boxes.

“As a mountain of evidence continues to pour in about the harmful effects of plastic in our environment and in our bodies, we simply cannot afford to keep doing things the same way and hope this problem solves itself,” said Sen. Paradee, a Dover Democrat who chairs the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee.

“The future of Delaware’s vibrant tourism industry demands that we step up now to reduce the volume of microplastics that is already threatening to choke the life out of our ocean, bays and marshes,” he said.  “The legislation I sponsored today marks the next step in our ongoing work to protect the rights of future generations to share in the rich natural heritage of this great state.”

Commonly called six-pack rings, plastic beverage rings have been denounced for harming wildlife and contributing to pollution ever since they replaced paper and metal ring holders following their invention in the 1960s.

Delaware was among the more than 25 states that banned non-degradable or non-recyclable ring carriers by 1990. Soon after, a federal mandate required all plastic beverage rings to be degradable.

However, concerns about plastic ring carriers have reemerged in recent years with new attention being paid to the micro- and nano-plastics that result from the decomposition process. 

Mostly invisible to the naked eye, those microscopic plastic particles end up in waterways, soil and the air where they enter the human food chain. Recent studies have linked the presence of microplastics in the bloodstream to higher risks of heart attack, stroke and numerous other health issues.

Plastic beverage rings are also not easily recyclable, and the Delaware Solid Waste Authority does not accept them in the statewide single-stream recycling program.

While Maine became the nation’s first state to ban plastic beverage rings in 1989, Canada followed suit by enacting a ban on plastic beverage rings in 2023. Beverage ring bans also have been introduced in Rhode Island and New York.

The beverage industry also is moving away from plastic rings. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, AB InBev, Molson Coors, Grupo Modelo, and several other of the world’s largest beverage companies have announced plans to replace plastic rings with fiber based alternatives in some markets.

“We’ve all seen pictures of animals stuck in plastic 6 pack rings and we know that they usually cannot survive once this happens to them,” said Rep. Sophie Phillips, the House prime sponsor of SB 263. “Our wildlife are essential to our ecosystem functioning properly, so decreasing the amount of plastic in our environment, one step at a time, will help ensure a strong and healthy planet for all of us.”

If passed by the Delaware General Assembly, Senate Bill 263 would mark another important step in Delaware’s efforts to prevent single-use plastics from ending up in streams, rivers, forests, beaches, and landfills.

The Delaware General Assembly passed legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Paradee in both 2019 and 2021 that significantly curtailed the distribution of single-use plastic bags by Delaware grocery stores and other retailers. Legislation sponsored by Sen. Paradee in 2023 also limited the use of polystyrene containers and many single-use plastics at food establishments throughout Delaware.

Senate Bill 263 has been assigned to the Senate Environment, Energy & Transportation Committee.