HONOLULU, HAWAII – On Wednesday Hawaii officially became America’s first state enforcing a ban on plastic bags. There is also a ban on all paper bags comprised of less 40% Post-consumer recycled material. This makes Hawaii the first state in the union to fully prohibit them.
By July 1, 2015, retailers will have to switch to reusable bags or paper bags that are at least 40% recycled materials.
California recently passed a law that requires stores to charge for reusable bags, but the measure has been put on hold until a referendum is held in November 2015.
Unlike the California ban, which was passed by the state legislature, Hawaii’s ban was instituted at the county level.
Robert Harris, Sierra Club’s Hawaii chapter director said “Being a marine state, perhaps, we are exposed more directly to the impacts of plastic pollution and the damage it does to our environment”.
He also added “People in Hawaii are more likely to be in the water or in the outdoors and see the modern day tumbleweed plastic bags in the environment.”
The Honolulu County Council approved the ban late last month and Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, who is also the county executive, initially held back his support, saying “he wanted to collect more public input due to enforcement and cost concerns.”
Some are concerned the ban will lead to an overuse of paper bags. And while paper is biodegradable, it could still amount to significant waste.
Overall, the ban is a step in the right direction.
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