Proposed Honolulu Plastics Ban Advancing At City Council

Sep 5, 2019

Amendments may be made to a bill that would ban use of plastic bags, utensils and Styrofoam containers by restaurants. The measure, Bill 40,  continued to advance at the Honolulu City Council Wednesday with the unanimous backing of its members.

Honolulu prohibited single-use plastic bags in 2015, but restaurants were granted an exemption for takeout and other transport of prepared food. Bill 40 would eliminate that exemption.

Business groups have raised concerns about the proposed ban, citing the cost of plastic alternatives as a major issue. 

The Restaurant Association sought more time to comply with the possible new rules, which would take effect on Jan. 1, 2020, if approved.

Some organizations also want financial incentives to offset added costs tied to replacing plastics.

Council Member Carol Fukunaga had proposed an amendment to the bill that would provide a property tax exemption to restaurants that fully comply with the measure. However, the amendment was not included in the version of the bill that is moving at the council.

While Fukunaga voted in favor of the measure, she indicated that she had reservations. Council member Ann Kobayashi did the same. 

Some supporters of the bill also want to see amendments, such as those that would expand the proposed ban to include plastic bags with handles and plastic bags used for fruits and vegetables.

Council Member Joey Manahan, who introduced the bill in July, indicated he is open to exploring amendments to the measure, but he reserved judgment on them.

“What if we decided to just ban everything, all the plastics and then tell them well figure it out, figure out what you guys are gonna do. I bet you they would figure it out really quickly,” he said. “I really think we need to find a solution to this issue. I know this bill is going to require some amendments but I’m curious to see what those are.”

The council passed Bill 40 unanimously on the second of three readings, and it now returns to the council's Public Safety and Welfare Committee for further discussion.