HONOLULU (KHON2) — The City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Environmental Services (ENV) is reminding businesses that the first phase of the Disposable Food Ware Ordinance is set to take effect April 1.

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That means restaurants will not be allowed to use plastic bags with handles to put prepared food in. Forty Niner Restaurant in Aiea is looking at possibly using paper bags as an alternative if there’s supply.

“I know as far as distributors they’re low as far as paper bags. So the only option I can think of is maybe the customers bringing their own bags or using boxes,” said owner Wil Cordes.

Businesses are also required to charge at least 15 cents for each acceptable bag under the law. One customer says he will miss using the plastic bags.

“We drive a lot so we are on the go, and for us to just have a box in our vehicle without a bag or anything is kind of inconvenient for us, especially if we’re picking up multiple lunches for employees and stuff like that. It’s very hard to carry it,” said Reuben Liboy Jr. of Kapolei.

Customers will no longer see disposable plastic utensils and straws while acceptable materials can only be provided by request. Food vendors must ask customers if they need a knife and fork or vice versa, or there needs to be a self-serving station for utensils. Chauns Rodrigues of Makaha thinks it is a good rule.

“Only thing you got to remember. The idea of walking and ah they forget that. We have to get used to it that’s about it,” said Rodrigues.

“We’re so used to doing the same thing over and over and over thousands of times so now we got to change our verbiage. It’s going to be a learning curve for everybody,” said Cordes.

Folks can still go to the store and buy their own plastic utensils until the end of 2021.

“That means your box stores, your local grocery stores come January 1, 2022 will not be selling any plastic utensils at that time, and it also means that distributors will not be able to distribute plastic utensils come next year,” said Markus Owens of the Department of Environmental Services.

2022s ban also includes foam food ware and disposable plastic food ware with a few exceptions.

Enforcement of the ordinance was originally postponed for 90 days on Jan. 1, 2021, to allow continued public education and businesses to exhaust existing inventories of non-compliant food ware. 

No further extensions have been granted at this time.

Starting April 1:

  • Food vendors must provide fossil fuel-free utensils made of bioplastic, paper or other renewable materials instead of petroleum plastic utensils. Food vendors must reduce the use of petroleum plastic takeout bags.
  • Polystyrene foam food ware cannot be sold, provided or offered for sale or use at City facilities, City-authorized concessions, City-sponsored/permitted events or City programs.
  • Disposable plastic service ware cannot be sold, served or provided to customers by any food vendor in the City.
  • Disposable service ware may be provided or distributed by a food vendor only upon the request or affirmative response of a customer or person being provided the prepared food or beverage, and in a self-service area or dispenser.

By Jan. 1, 2022:

  • No food vendor shall sell, serve or provide prepared food in polystyrene foam food ware or  disposable plastic food ware.
  • No business shall sell polystyrene foam food ware, disposable plastic service ware or disposable plastic food ware except for packaging for raw meat, raw poultry, raw seafood, unprepared produce and uncooked eggs, packaging for prepackaged food and shelf stable food and non-compliant products sold to a food vendor who has been granted an exemption for said products under Section 41-27.3, Revised Ordinances of Honolulu (ROH).

For information regarding exemptions and restrictions relating to the DFWO, please click here or email ENV’s Recycling Branch at businessrecycle@honolulu.gov. You may also call 768-3200 (Ext. 6).