HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city has started handing out big, bright yellow garbage bags to businesses in Chinatown to try and tackle the community's chronic trash problem.
Back in June, the city started requiring its 90-plus Chinatown business customers to put their trash in bags -- instead of boxes -- in order to be picked up.
But merchants say homeless individuals going through the trash and illegal dumpers are still creating growing piles of garbage.
“I always see a lot of trash and I clean it up at 6:30 in the morning," said Sam Say of M.P. Lei Shop. “And as soon River of Life opens, there’s just trash again everywhere.”
City officials say the bright bags will help their crews know what trash to pick up and what's been illegally dumped.
"We think it will stand out," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. "We'll know which bags we pick up and which ones we don't. And we're going to be asking the merchants that they comply and put everything in the bag and seal it tightly."
And because the bags are also bigger and more durable than standard trash bags, Caldwell says businesses will be able to put their boxes inside and the homeless population will have a harder time ripping through the plastic.
“I would like every vendor who uses the yellow bags from now on to cut the boxes into smaller pieces where the homeless cannot use it for their bed or making a tent or covering themselves up,” said Paul Min, owner of You Market. “If there is nothing for them to use, we will have less rubbish in Chinatown.”
The city says it will provide the yellow bags for free through January, but starting February, all businesses will need to buy their own from a city-approved vendor.
Officials estimate it will cost about 60 cents a bag.
The mayor says they’re also looking into providing each merchant with a lockable trash bin that can be wheeled to the curb on collection days.
Merchants say enforcement of illegal dumping is also needed.