Chamber of Commerce asks city to delay plastic ban that takes effect in 2021

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — On January 2021, restaurants on Oahu will no longer be able to give people plastic utensils, straws or plastic bags with handles for take-out food. This is part of a law that passed last year.

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Zippy’s has already started to transition to the new rules. As of Sept. 2, utensils will only be given out if people request them.

Zippy’s said on its website that it is making the changes now to get ahead of the mandate and help customers get used to the new rules.

However, Sherry Menor-Mcnamara, President of the Chamber of Commerce said some businesses need more time, especially now, as they work through the second shut down.

“It’s not simply throw it away, all the existing inventory and buying new ones,” said Menor-Mcnamara. “There is a process to it, and ultimately, if there’s additional expenses to a business during this time, it will translate to businesses having to reduce positions or other types of expenses.”

The Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Mayor Caldwell and the city council asking to delay the start date for the ban to a later time but didn’t specify when.

Menor-Mcnamara said there are multiple things that could make the switch to the new rules difficult.

She said small businesses still have not bounced back from where they were pre-pandemic. Menor-Mcnamara also said businesses may find it more difficult to make the switch away from plastic utensils and straws now that suppliers have decreased.

Retail Merchants of Hawaii President Tina Yamaki said suppliers are getting harder to find.

“Some of the suppliers, they’re not there anymore, whether they shut down because of the COVID situation and they’re going to reopen again, or whether that they’re out of business,” said Yamaki.

KHON2 has asked the City and County of Honolulu if the delay will be considered, and this story will be updated once they respond.

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