Local Connection: Politics and Plastics on Oahu

Published: Nov. 22, 2019 at 1:46 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) -The debate over how to move away from plastic and foam containers in the food industry is exposing chronic flaws in how the council does its business – and how business pays the price.

The council started with a simple bill dealing with foam containers and plastic utensils. The goal was to reduce plastic litter.

Then suddenly the goal became to also fight climate change – and the bill became a sweeping ban on all kinds of plastic ware that would have drastically harmed many local food businesses and beloved products like poi and taro chips.

Adding insult to injury, mainland food imports that compete with local products were not covered.

The justified outrage from the business community led to three hasty rewrites that thoroughly confused the public. It barely passed committee on a 3-2 vote with no one sure of its impact.

The Industry knows it needs to reduce single use plastics and is moving toward that end as science and the packaging industry works on practical non-plastic alternatives.

Still, for advocates of immediate elimination of all plastic, this rushed process is not fast enough. They routinely accuse businesses of stalling because of profit.

The battle against climate change is a noble cause, but so is the battle to change the climate for business in this state.

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