Kauaʻi Council Advances Polysytrene Container Ban Proposal

Feb 20, 2020

A proposed polystyrene ban on Kauaʻi has passed first reading at the County Council. Council members discussed the proposed ban at its monthly meeting yesterday. 

Similar to other county bans, Bill 2775 would prohibit the sale and use of styrofoam containers in the county. 

Honolulu was the latest county to ban styrofoam container sale and use.  The city also prohibited single-use plastic utensils. Maui County was the first to enact a polystyrene ban, followed by Hawaiʻi Island.

The Kauaʻi measure would also exempt food packaged outside of the island, such as Cup Noodles, and containers used for raw or butchered meats.

Council member Mason Chock, who co-introduced the bill, said a polystyrene ban would help divert harmful waste from the environment and the county's aging landfill -- which is expected to reach capacity in 2027.

"We have been struggling to identify a new landfill," Chock said. "We know that part of that effort, in not only sustaining the life of this current landfill, is to divert as much as we can, but to also get rid of harmful materials that take up space in our landfill."

Chock says he has considered a polystyrene ban for years, but there were enforcement and economic concerns. But he believes there are enough viable alternatives available for businesses, and the cost can be absorbed by customers who are willing to pay for more sustainable containers.

"As a county, we have to look at what we can accomplish. And whenever we can, we need to try and act on it," he said.

But there was some criticism of the proposal. Council members Arthur Brun and Ross Kagawa raised concerns about how the ban would affect smaller restaurants and if the alternative containers would be able to handle liquids.

Chock says the proposed ban is just one in a series of initiatives the council and Mayor Derek Kawakami are considering. He says some of the initiatives under consideration are a single-use plastics ban and a composting program.

The council advanced the measure 6 to 1, with Council member Arthur Brun being the lone "no" vote. A public hearing on the measure will be scheduled for further discussion.

If passed, Bill 2775 would take effect Jan. 1, 2021.