New proposal aims to reverse Oahu’s new “bag fee” that charges 15 cents per bag

Local News

It’s been nearly one month since Oahu’s bag fee went into effect. 

Since July 1st, businesses are required to charge customers a minimum of 15 cents a bag. 

There are mixed reactions to the new law. 

“I’m not like I hate it or I don’t love it. I don’t care, it’s just 15 cents,” shrugged shopper Lacey Vasquez. 

Kaluna Hoomana says he prefers not to purchase a bag. “I just carry it out. It’s kind of funny because sometimes (when you’re) at Walmart, you got to make sure you get the receipt. Because they usually think you’re stealing,” he said. 

Over at Ward Village clothing boutique Eden in Love, sales associates say customers have adjusted to the new bag fee, though it comes with a hiccup. 

“We’re converting from not charging for bags and giving extra bags just in case. And now we do have that tone like ‘Oh, I’m so sorry. A bag will cost 15 cents,'” said sales associate Trisha Ramelb.  

“I personally like handing out bags because it’s an advertisement for us. It shares a story about what we do. It’s a way to market our brand and spread the word. It was through those bags that people found out about us,” she added. 

Though the bag fee has only been in effect since July 1st, Honolulu City Councilman Trevor Ozawa thinks it’s time for a change. 

“It’s encouraging people to shop less, to buy only one bag worth whatever they carry out. Honolulu is always ranked one of the worst cities to do business. Why are we making it less likely for people to spend money here?” said Ozawa. 

The council member introduced Bill 59, which would change the existing law so businesses would no longer have to charge customers for paper bags. 

“People want a recalibration on this. Have some sort of a compromise. For plastic bags, a fee is still necessary to encourage people to use more recyclable items. It’s kind of a gray area and I think we can do better. At least hear this bill and hear what kind of feedback we get.” 

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