Hawaii Big Island Bans Plastic Checkout Bags

Hawaii Big Island Bans Plastic Checkout Bags

The Big Island of Hawaii has adopted a ban on plastic checkout bags, following the lead of two other Hawaiian islands.

Meanwhile, the Hawaiian state legislature is considering at least two statewide bag ban bills.

The Hawaiian island ordinance will take effect January 18, 2013, and affects only bags sold at the counter, says Hunter Bishop, deputy director for the Hawaii County Department of Environmental Management, in an interview. 

It comes after bans on plastic checkout bags took effect Jan. 11 on Maui and Kauai islands and counties. Those Hawaiian counties encompass the islands.

On Hawaii Island, businesses can make plastic checkout bags available for purchase for one calendar year after the law takes effect. It would be up to the individual retailer whether to charge a fee and how much, Bishop says.

The department will have six months to develop specific guidelines for the ban after it takes effect, he says.

“The purpose of this article is to reduce the use of plastic bags and to encourage the use of environmentally preferable alternatives, such as reusable bags,” according to the bill.

Hawaii Island has a population of about 185,000.

Both laws in Maui and Kauai allow retailers to provide recycled-content paper or reusable bags.

Hawaii House Bill 1828 would impose a tax of 20 cents on each plastic checkout bag  given to a customer. It would take effect July 1. House Bill 2260 calls for a fee of 10 cents on all single-use plastic and paper bags, and also would take effect July 1.

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