Some retailers still giving out plastic bags on Oahu, and they're legal

Published: Jul. 4, 2015 at 1:47 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 4, 2015 at 2:51 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A long-awaited plastic bag ban took effect Wednesday on Oahu. But customers at Walmart were still getting plastic bags, leaving some surprised.

The new law forbids plastic checkout bags, but it does allow reusable plastic bags, if they're at least 2.25 mils thick.

"Reusable bag," said Kahi Pacarro of Sustainable Coastlines, reading part of the new bag. "Yes, it is reusable, so they've got one of them."

And it meets the thickness requirement, so it is legal. but Pacarro says it breaks the spirit of the new law.

"It's a very thick plastic bag, and the intent of the law was to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and stop producing bags made out of fossil fuels, which is plastic," he said.

Debbie Smith of Waikiki had a whole collection of bags after shopping downtown, and was still surprised at first to get the plastic one from her Walmart clerk.

"I asked her, and she told me these were biodegradable, faster than the other bags," said Smith.

Smith also got a new thicker plastic bag from Long's Drugs, one that says it can be used at least 125 times.

HNN showed the Walmart bag to some of the vendors at the monthly Arts and Fleas market at the Hawaii State Art Museum.

"I think it's cool. It's reusable," said Jeff Sanner of Avant Pop. "I don't know what the quality is or what it's made of, but it's alright."

Sanner's business has never used plastic bags. It's always been paper.

"I just thought it was better because they're environmentally friendly, right? So I decided to start using them from the get-go," said Sanner.

Others in he business of making reusable cloth tote bags say their business is growing.

"We're upping our production, definitely," said Carol D'Angelo of Ecolicious. "More people are taking the bag into the stores now."

Pacarro is hoping more people will use more of the paper or cloth bags -- and less of the thicker plastic.

"We wish that it wasn't still legal," he said. "And we will hopefully be able to educate the retailers why they shouldn't be offering this bag."

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