The Honolulu City Council passed a single-use plastics ban that will be the first in Hawaii to include all plastic containers used for food sales and service. The council voted Wednesday in favour of the measure that is expected to be signed by Mayor Kirk Caldwell and fully enacted by 2022.
Food vendors would be prohibited from providing plastic forks, spoons, knives, straws or other utensils and plastic foam plates, cups and other containers beginning Jan. 1, 2021, officials said.
The ban would add other plastic food ware and begin applying to non-food-purveying businesses starting Jan. 1, 2022, officials said.
Businesses that do not adhere to the law face fines of up to $1,000 a day, although exemptions could be issued if they cannot find reasonable, non-plastic replacements.
Opponents and supporters held rallies over the proposal. The council also received 2,183 pages of testimony on the bill through Tuesday, City Clerk Glen Takahashi said.
Environmentalists highlighted the food industry plastics that can be found littering Oahu’s streets and waterways. Plastic utensils and containers are made using fossil fuels and their production contributes to climate change, they said.
Restaurants and other foodservice businesses said the measure was vague and confusing.
“Many of the definitions in this bill have problems that will make it hard for businesses to implement, and hard for the department to enforce consistently,” said Lauren Zirbel, executive director of the Hawaii Food Industry Association
Councilman Joey Manahan, who authored the bill, said the effort to pass the measure appeared to gather momentum as it moved through the approval process.
“Really and truly, it is everybody’s bill. Because we are talking about the health and well-being of our oceans and our planet, our island Earth,” Manahan said.