Honolulu mayor backs stronger plastic bag ban as Maui shifts focus to styrofoam

On Oahu, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell pledged his support for a bill that would ban stores from using all plastic bags, even those that are considered reusable or compostable.

Under Bill 59, plastic bags of 2.25 mil or higher would no longer be considered reusable bags as of Jan. 1, 2020. However, merchants would be allowed to charge a minimum of 10 cents for each reusable bag, including 2.25 mil plastic bags, until the sunset date is reached.

“I think most people don’t reuse those bags. We see them in our parks. We see them blowing in our streets. We see them in the Ala Wai Canal,” said Caldwell. “Let’s do what our other sister counties do, and let’s get on with something we should have done in 2015.”

Restaurants would be exempt from this rule, and could still distribute plastic bags as many do now.

The bill will have a final reading at the city council on Wednesday and will likely become law if approved.

Meanwhile, Maui County residents will see styrofoam containers disappear now that Mayor Alan Arakawa has signed a bill into law that bans such containers at restaurants and other food establishments.

“By doing this, we’re going to force the wholesalers to be bringing in the types of product that the market will be able to work with, and the end result, I believe, will be beneficial to our community,” Arakawa said.

Supporters say the ban will protect the environment, but businesses worry about the cost of switching to other types of containers.

Residents will still have time to get used to the ban, which goes into effect in 2019.

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