Oahu's plastic bag ban officially in effect

Oahu's plastic bag ban officially in effect
Published: Jul. 1, 2015 at 9:07 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 1, 2015 at 4:04 PM HST
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Starting Wednesday, grocers and retailers across the island will no longer be allowed to provide plastic checkout bags to customers as part of Oahu’s plastic bag ban.

The ban will include all plastic checkout bags, defined as a carryout bag provided by a business to transport groceries or other retail goods made from non-compostable plastic and not designed for multiple reuse. However, retailers can provide recyclable paper bags, compostable plastic bags and reusable bags, which include ones made out of plastic at least 2.25 mils thick. 

The City and County of Honolulu passed the restriction three years ago to help prevent plastic from ending up in the ocean, but it is the last county in the state to make the transition. A similar ban for the Big Island began in 2013, while Kauai and Maui County made the switch four years ago.
On Oahu, violators can be fined starting at $100 per day up to $1,000 per day for repeat offenders.

Federal entities, like the Defense Commissary Agency, are not required to follow the ban. The Navy Exchange is voluntarily complying, but the commissary at Pearl Harbor and others will not be in compliance, according to a DCA official. They do offer recyclable paper bags and reusable bags, but the plastic is not compostable or biodegradable. Stores will continue to promote recycling plastic bags at bins nearby, the DCA said.

Affected businesses are trying to ease the transition for customers, offering various incentives. For example, Foodland is rewarding customers with a 5-cent bag credit or three HawaiianMiles for every reusable bag used during checkout. They’ll also be entered to win weekly prizes and a grand prize every time they use their reusable bags.  
The following is a quick list of what is and isn't acceptable:

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - NO

  • plastic checkout bags
  • non-recyclable plastic bags


  • reusable bags
  • compostable plastic bags (identified by compostable logo)
  • recyclable paper bags


  • Small plastic bags (veggies/fruits, nuts, candy, hardware)
  • Frozen food bags: flowers, meat, plants
  • Bags for prepared foods: take-out, fast food, bakery goods
  • Newspaper bags
  • Pharmacy bags
  • Door hanger bag
  • Laundry
  • Multiple packages: Garbage, pet, yard
  • Pet store bags for live animals: fish, insects
  • Pesticide/Chemical bags
For more information about Oahu's plastic bag ban, click here

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