National News

Honolulu mayor to sign latest 'plastic bag ban' into law

Posted July 24

— Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell will sign Oahu's latest plastic bag ban into law, on Monday.

Effective in July of next year, Bill 59 (2016) FD1, CD3 will require businesses to charge a 15-cent fee for each reusable, compostable plastic or recyclable paper bags.

The new law will also phase out all plastic bags, including compostable and thicker 2.25 mil bags-- that are often marketed as reusable-- by the year 2020.

Currently, stores are already prohibited from handing out plastic checkout bags and non-recyclable paper bags.

So for environmental groups like Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, this bill is a big victory.

"This bill.. its another step in the right direction for us to protect our environment, and in the long-run sustainability of Hawaii, " said executive director of Sustainable Coastline Hawaii, Kahi Pacarro.

Pacarro has been on the forefront of Honolulu's new "plastic bag ban bill." He says that Sustainable Coastline Hawaii finds an average of just under 2,000 plastic bags, per year on Oahu.

"Plastic bags represent one of the worst designed products in the world, because they end up in our society.. in our environment.. killing animals .. and just ultimately being an eyesore, especially for our tourism here in Hawaii," Pacarro said.

Still some who oppose the new bill say banning single-use plastic bags, completely, is "inconvenient" and is not the answer.

"Nobody wants litter, but what we should be focusing on is cleaning up the beaches... enforce the laws for littering that are already on the books, maybe even just make it stricter." Oahu resident, Justin Tanoue said. "You shouldn't punish the whole island, population for a few that break the law."

Family owned business, Island Plastic Bags told Island News they would lose nearly 10 percent of their customers once the ban goes into effect.

"We believe in a fee for use. We don't believe in outright bans," Island Plastic Bags president, Adrian Hong said.

"15 cents is not much, but to me it's not about the money.. It's the principle.. what are they going to ban next." Tanoue added.

Supporters of Honolulu's new bill say the goal is getting people to use their own bags, instead of plastic ones.

"Why are we targeting plastic bags.. because they are the low hanging fruit," said Pacarro. "They're prevalent and all over our society and it's got to stop."

Exceptions to the new ban are bags for dry cleaning, produce, meat or fish, bakery goods, flowers and newspapers. (for a full list click here)

Mayor Kirk Caldwell will hold a signing ceremony, at 1:30 on Monday at Ala Moana Regional Park.

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