Plastic bags sacked on Oahu

Published: Apr. 25, 2012 at 5:41 PM HST|Updated: May. 10, 2012 at 4:21 PM HST
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A bill to ban plastic bags in Honolulu heads to Mayor Peter Carlisle's desk
A bill to ban plastic bags in Honolulu heads to Mayor Peter Carlisle's desk

KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu is the only county in the state not to regulate plastic shopping bags, but now the city council has approved the plan to ban plastic shopping bags and some paper bags as well.

The vote was 7-1, Councilman Nestor Garcia was the lone no vote.

Keep in mind this is an outright ban not a fee per bag.  That means the plastic shopping bags you get from super markets, convenience stores and restaurants will not be allowed.  Paper bags will be allowed but only if they are made of at least 40 percent recycled material and have a recyclable logo on it.

There were some compromises made.  The ban won't take effect until July 2015 giving stores three years to get rid of inventory and prepare for the transition.  It also gives suppliers time to get more bio-degradable bags to the market.

"I'm confident when we reach 2015 we will have progressed to a point where the cost of a biodegradable plastic bags will be no different from the price of bags that are given out now," said Ernie Martin, Honolulu City Council Chair. "I'm very pleased I think from the very beginning I've always supported the ban itself."

"We're ecstatic. We're going to be the first state in the U.S. to do a complete ban on plastic bags throughout and as an ocean state, a coastal state it is important we take a leadership role on this issue," said Robert Harris, Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter.

There are various exceptions.  The bags used to carry produce, meats and nuts are allowed.  So are dry cleaning bags and garbage and yard bags.  The bag your newspaper comes in is also allowed.

The law is not in the bag yet.  Mayor Peter Carlisle still needs to sign the bill. He released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

"I always believed that as long as people litter their plastic bags, something needs to be done. Right now, properly discarded plastic bags are incinerated for energy at H-Power. I want to acknowledge the City Council for wrestling with this issue and attempting to resolve the concerns of retailers, consumers and all Oahu citizens who care for the environment. I plan to review this final draft of Bill 10 and accept public input before I make a decision."

To read the text of the bag ban bill click here.

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