Single-use plastic ban bill scheduled for City Council vote Wednesday

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Bill 40 CD1, which bans prepared single-use plastics from food vendors, is set to be voted on Wednesday in the Honolulu City Council.

City Councilman Tommy Waters has rewritten Bill 40 three different times and still has some language to clean up in a draft tomorrow before the city council votes on it. He is still optimistic that it will pass.

“I feel pretty good.” Waters said.

“The community especially has been coming out in full force.”

Outside of prepackaged foods, the bill will ban styrofoam containers, straws, handled plastic bags, utensils, and other plastics from food vendors. Waters points to biodegradable options and paper containers as a more environmentally friendly alternative, which could be more expensive upfront but with a chance to reduce price with more demand.

“Once this becomes the norm I think all of the people who make these products can do it for cheaper if there are more people ordering them.” Waters said.

“There are other cities like Seattle that are doing that right now, we can learn from what they’re doing.”

Despite this being a push for a long-term solution to a massive global and local plastic consumption problem, consumers are likely to see an increase in prices early on.

“Change is hard. I get it.” Waters said.

“Change is hard but you know sometimes change is good especially when it protects our Hawaii Nei.”

Meanwhile, those against the bill say it is rushed and too vague in its language. Waters contends that consumers don’t have to worry about local foods or health concerns because he’s added enough exemptions in the bill that should please everyone.

“I took a lot of time to make sure that we don’t affect those local businesses and local suppliers like the lau lau folks the people who make kimchee, the musubi wrappers.” Waters said.

“All of that is taken off of the table that bill does not affect them.”

Fines for vendors who continue to use single-use plastics without exemption would be $100 to $1,000 per day.

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