Hawaii lawmakers consider plastic bag tax

Hawaii lawmakers consider plastic bag tax
Published: Jan. 30, 2013 at 8:27 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 30, 2013 at 11:37 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Statewide all plastic bags will be banned by 2015, but lawmakers have a plan for single-use bags between now and then, which they say will save the environment and taxpayers money.

At least seven variations of "bag bills" are up for consideration this legislative session -- and one of them proposes a $.10 fee for non-reusable bags.

"We've already seen a number of countries and cities across the world move ahead with bills like this and it's drastically reduced pollution and the collection and cleanup that states have to pay on a regular basis," said Representative Chris Lee, Chair of the House Committee on Energy & Environmental Protection.

House Bill 357 would require businesses to charge a dime for each single-use bag provided to customers at check-out.

Shirley Lor, who already shops with re-usable bags, likes the idea. "I say yes because then it will kind of encourage people to get rid of the plastic bags, and keep a more healthier living – lifestyle – and for the Earth as well, too."

If the $.10 single-use bag fee is approved, businesses would get to keep 10% of it and the rest would go to the state to fund watershed restoration.

"The cost of life in Hawaii would go up significantly if we don't take care of our watersheds," said William Aila Jr. , Chairman of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

According to the D.L.N.R., rainfall in Hawaii is expected to drop by as much as 30% in the next few decades. Experts like Aila Jr. say that would have a major impact on the cost of everything from drinking water to local produce or beef.

"Right now with climate change we're seeing our water supply begin to dry up and if we want to have enough fresh water available for everybody in the years to come, we need to do something today," said Rep. Lee. "It's a small cost to be paid today to save a significant amount of money in the long run."

State legislators are scheduled to review the single-use bag fee during a hearing at the Capitol Thursday morning.

Follow Mileka Lincoln on Facebook: facebook.com/MilekaLincoln.HNN or on Twitter: twitter.com/MilekaLincoln

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