HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Legislature is searching for solutions to the state’s plastic problem.
Lawmakers are looking at a bill that would do away with single-use plastic toiletries at hotels and instead encourage them to provide things like shampoo, conditioner, and soap in bulk dispensers.
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The little complimentary bottles might not look like much, but just a single hotel chain can use hundreds of millions of them in a single year.
“As a notable tourism destination here in Hawaii, we also really have an opportunity to kind of put our money where our mouth is when we talk about how important the environment is and how Hawaii wants to engage and more sustainable tourism,” Rep. Nicole Lowen (D) chair of the House Energy & Environmental Protection committee said.
Lowen is one of the introducers of the bill. She thinks that the industry is already beginning to adopt these practices.
Marriott has pledged to phase out plastic bottles worldwide by the end of the year, something Hyatt pledged in 2021. Holiday Inn is another large chain that is moving away from single-use containers.
“Certainly, the spirit of this particular bill or series of legislative measures is something that we don’t really have an issue with,” Hawaii Tourism and Lodging Association President & CEO Mufi Hannemann said.” It’s all about timing. It’s all about making sure that there’s an understanding of the fact that every hotel chain every hotel brand is different.”
The bill would prohibit hotels with 50 or more beds from handing out personal care products in small plastic bottles in 2024 and 2025 for lodging with fewer than 50 beds.
Lowen said they would be willing to push that back further, but with each month that passes more plastic is added to Hawaii’s landfills.
“There was a research study that was done that over 300,000 pieces of single-use plastic are used by like one sort of general 200 room four-star hotel every month,” Surfrider Foundation Hawaii Regional Manager Lauren Blickley said.
Rubbish on Oahu also gets burned for electricity output at H-Power.
Blickley said that plastics are “not able to biodegrade in any way, shape, or form and the vast majority of them, especially when you’re looking at the hospitality industry are not being recycled.”
“So again, headed directly for the landfill on our neighbor islands or H-Power on Oahu. When you’re burning plastics. It’s releasing a lot of very harmful chemicals into our environment,” Blickley added.
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HB1645 passed its first reading and is scheduled to be heard by the Energy and Environmental Protection as well as Labor and Tourism committees on Thursday morning, Feb. 3.