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Confusion Expected As Strict Oahu Plastics Ban Signed Into Law

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Mayor Kirk Caldwell, left, and other city officials talk about Bill 40, a strict ban on plastic foodware, before the mayor signed the measure at Magic Island on Dec. 15, 2019.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Sunday signed Bill 40 into law, establishing a sweeping ban on single-use plastic and polystyrene foodware for Oahu.

The ban will phase in over the next two years.

By January 2022, plastic and polystyrene service items like utensils and lidded containers will be prohibited.

City Environmental Services Director Lori Kahikina said at press conference at Magic Island that there may be businesses that won't know about the law at the beginning.

"With the plastic bag ban, what we found was 90 percent of the time people just did not know what the rules were. They weren't intentionally trying to not follow the rules. And as soon as we tell them, they fix it. So that's what we're anticipating.

"There's going to be some confusion. We teach them what the rules are, they're going to comply," she said.

Businesses that fail to follow the law face fines of up to $1,000 a day. But if they can show it would be a hardship to comply, they can also ask for exemptions from the new law.

But Kahikina suggested exemptions won't be easy to get. She pointed to a display of compostable foodware that can be used instead of plastics and polystyrene.

The city will be drafting rules to carry out the law and plans an educational campaign to explain the ordinance's provisions.

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