Mayor Caldwell to sign tougher plastic bag ban into law

Mayor Caldwell to sign tougher plastic bag ban into law
Published: Jul. 24, 2017 at 2:10 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 24, 2017 at 6:54 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now/File)
(Image: Hawaii News Now/File)
(image: Hawaii News Now)
(image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mayor Kirk Caldwell will sign the latest plastic bag bill into law Monday, phasing out thick reusable bags and closing a loophole many have expressed concern over.

"We are on an island and we're surrounded by a body of water. It's important to take care, be good stewards of our land, to be good stewards of how we use our resources because at the end of the day it's for our future generations," said author of the bill, Honolulu City Councilman Brandon Elefante.

The new law – to go into effect July 2018 – will charge customers 15 cents for each plastic bag.

The Honolulu City Council unanimously voted to pass Oahu's new plastic bag ban last week, and the mayor's signature will solidify the new law.

Retailers will now be prohibited from handing out thicker plastic bags.

The law also ensures that by 2020, all plastic bags will be banned except for ones used for produce and restaurant takeout.

Critics say the new ban still has loopholes and hope takeout food bags and produce bags can be included later.

"The majority of the plastic bags that we have found on beaches and in parks are actually the food bags," said Suzanne Frazer, president and co-founder of Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii (B.E.A.C.H.).

Frazer said a survey of Ala Moana Beach Park earlier this month found that 63-percent of the plastic bags left behind were take-out food bags.

"I know this bill just passed. But we'd like to see by 2020 a full plastic bag ban encompassing. Not only the compostables and the thick ones that are being banned then, but also the other two loopholes closed as well," Frazer said.

Caldwell said the city is "concerned about those exceptions."

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