Plastic Bags Banned On Hawaii’s Big Island

The post-card perfect beaches of Hawaii’s Big Island will now be safer from toxic litter and costly waste thanks to recent decisions by theHawaiiCounty Council and Mayor Billy Kenoi.

In late December, the Council approved a bill that wouldrestrict retailers from offering plastic bags at the checkout counter. And just over a week ago, the bill was signed into law by Kenoi. In doing so, the Big Island joined its neighborsKauai and Maui which already have similar bans in place.However, support for the bill was far from unanimous.

A frequent surfer, Kenoi acknowledged that plastic bags can become unwelcome litter and also threaten marine mammals that mistake them for food.However, Kenoi said he also agrees with bill opponents who feel charging for plastic bags, education and voluntary recycling are better solutions than government mandates for addressing littering issues.

“Yet, this bill holds the promise of keeping our island clean, healthy and safe, and we need to finish the job,” Kenoi told lawmakers.

Hawaii County’s law affects only plastic shopping bags distributed at the checkout counter; garbage bags, those available in the produce section of supermarkets and packaging material are excluded.

For those who feel that the bill is unfair, or will negatively impact retailers in extremely wet areas like Hilo, there will be plenty of time to create an adaptation plan, as the lawwon’t take effect until Jan. 17, 2013.After that, businesses may sell plastic shopping bags for an additional year without violating the law.

Related Reading:

Success! Seattle Votes To Ban Plastic Bags

Update On Great Pacific Garbage Patch (Yes, It’s Still There)

Google Earth Shows Ocean Pollution Is A Global Problem

Image Credit: Flickr velkr0

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Samantha Richardson

I am really glad that they have banned plastic bags. I wish they were banned everywhere, they are such a hazard to all forms of life, and are no good for our environment. If you forget to bring your mesh bag, too bad, buy another one at the register. Take plastic bags away and people will learn to adapt very quickly!

Ruth R.
Ruth R.3 years ago

Banning plastic bags will demonstrate to each nam, women, and child that we do not need plastic bags. Thanks for the article and the good news.

Merrily L.
La Loba L.3 years ago

It's a shame that people can't be trained well enough to not abuse the use of plastic bags. It seems that humans can't be trained for many things - like live where you love it, but leave nature alone, instead of wanting everything in sight to go away. The ban on bags on the island of Hawaii is great, except the County Council then immediately passed a measure stating that all stores who use their bags, plastic or paper, will begin taxing 10 cents for every bag a store uses, beginning next January. That's outrageous! There are people here who live on the street, and have NO way they could make, or buy cloth bags. We've always used ours for litter, after bringing it home, and never, ever let them get free to go somewhere that pollutes the environment. Bad Bad Mayor Kenoi!!

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe3 years ago

I have been used cloth bags for about 9 years now. I will admit though, in the summer, I will put meat in a plastic bag at the grocery because it sometimes leaks.

Rebecca T.
Rebecca T.3 years ago

Great news. You can sign my petition to ban the bag in Maine here:

Sarah M.
Sarah M.3 years ago

Awesome! We need this nationwide!

Rosemary Graf
Rosemary Graf3 years ago

It's time all states ban plastic bags. It's better to use your own bags to carry your groceries home in. One only has to pack them in their cars & they are ready to go. No more broken bags that will drop groceries, Also, there are stores that will give you cash if you use your own bags.

Chad A.
Chad Anderson3 years ago

Where I live you have to pay a deposit for bags and many stores will not give out plastice ones anymore in any case. I applaud Hawaii and prefer cloth bags anyhow. You can sew them when they rip and wash them when they get dirty!

Christy Elamma
Christy Elamma3 years ago

I would like to see a nation wide ban, but if it takes one state at a time, then so be it!

Audra W.
Audra W.3 years ago