New exemptions to plastic bill in City Council

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A bill to expand the plastic ban on Oahu will be brought up once again at the Honolulu City Council, but there’s been some changes.

Under the latest proposal, pre-packaged foods like juice boxes sold with a plastic straw, cup-noodle and plastic or foam packaging for raw meat, seafood and eggs would be allowed.

Some say this is a good thing, since under the first version of the bill, the restrictions were too broad.

“The way we’re reading it, it could potentially include really any food or beverage that is packaged in any type of plastic, which are most of the items sold in a grocery store,” said Lauren Zirbel.

Pamela Boyar, owner of Farm Lover’s Markets said raw food packaging has been one of their biggest concerns.

“We have vendors that bring local meat, and we also have vendors that also bring fish. If they’re placed directly on the ice without anything to protect that, that is a hazard, and I cannot have that at the market,” said Boyar.

Another change to the bill is that businesses will still be able to give plastic straws to customers who ask. This was added for some people who may have medical or physical conditions that require them to use a straw.

There are also new proposed amendments to the date when the ban would begin. Originally, the ban was set to start in January of 2020. There are suggestions to move that ban start date all the way up to 2022.

However, there are still some other exemptions that people would like to see.

“One of the amendments that we had asked for in that particular bill is relating to whether or not baked goods and prepared foods should be allowed to put into a plastic bag,” said Zirbel. “Because the only other legal item is a a paper bag, which would not be able to hold in moisture or say if curry spilled in a bag.”

Businesses say another problem is bread packaging.

“Our baker dudes make all their bread. It’s more sanitary to have it covered and then bring it here, and it stays fresher in plastic,” said Boyar.

People will get another chance to testify in front of the Honolulu City Council at the Committee of Safety and Welfare Thursday. The bill has already passed two readings before committee.

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