HONOLULU (KHON2) — Styrofoam and water don’t mix according to a new ordinance in the Maui County Council.
Councilmember Tamara Paltin, who introduced the legislation, is looking to ban cheaply made polystyrene made bodyboards from being sold or rented.
“I could just put a fist through it this,” Paltin said while holding one of the boards. “The little wrist strap it really wouldn’t do anything for you in any kind of real surf,”
Paltin would know, she spent years as an Ocean Safety Lieutenant in Kapalua before retiring. She says she would often come across rescuees in need of help while on the disposable boards.
We’d find all of these disposable styrofoam boogies in half on the beach and we’d go and pick them up and you couldn’t really throw them away because the rubbish can was overflowing with boogie boards,” Paltin said.
The styrofoam adds to Maui’s landfill, or worse if it doesn’t make it there.
“They break up into a million tiny little balls that are easily ingested by our marine life and eventually into us because there are fish that are eating these little pieces of plastic,” Maui Councilmember Kelly King said.
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino says he supports the ordinance if the council is specific about the type of board.
“I would like to make sure health concerns and safety concerns are taken into consideration.” Mayor Victorino said.
Maui is notorious for having a plethora of great bodyboarding. Resident Alexander Muto has body boarded there since he was a child. He used to see the boards littered on beaches and stuffed into trash cans.
“If they could ban the styrofoam use ones and just have a renting thing that you rent them from the hotels, that would be a lot better because I hate seeing these things in the trash cans and the particles going everywhere,” Muto said.
Organizations like Used Surfboards Hawaii are another way to keep boards out of landfills. They have people, including tourists, sell boards they purchase in consignment.
“We are the epitome of trying to eliminate waste it’s Used Surfboards Hawaii,” owner and operate Alex Utal said. “I get folks that come in, tourists come to me and they purchase a board and bring it back and we’ll sell it for them the Costco boards as well they bring it to us and we buy them,”
The ordinance just passed out of reading unanimously and still has two readings to pass through in the County Council.