Reminder: 15 cent bag fee goes into effect on Sunday at all retail stores

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The 15 cent bag fee goes into effect this Sunday. Unless you want to fork over the extra change at check-out, make sure to bring your own bag.

Most people are probably used to bringing a reusable bag with them to the grocery store, or at least they have one in their car. But the bag fee applies to all retailers, not just grocery stores.

Tina Yamaki, president of retail merchants of Hawaii, said it affects everyone.

“So when you go buy clothing or make-up, board shorts or sun glasses and you put it in a bag, you’re going to be charged 15 cents whether you’re at a discount stores or a high end retailer,” Yamaki explained.

It also affects trade shows and farmers markets. Anywhere a retailer sells you an item.

The law states: “a businesses may provide reusable bags, compostable plastic bags, or recyclable paper bags for the purpose of transporting groceries or other merchandise provided they charge the customer a minimum of 15 cents per bag.”

Valerie Joseph, owner of POSHd boutique said it will take some time to get used to.

“I understand there’s that we’re trying to reduce the landfill and promote a more greener shopping practice, but I feel a little uncomfortable charging for that because it’s part of what our customers receive, it’s part of the experience. So I’m on the fence, but I understand it’s the law it’s something that we have to do,” Joseph said.

Where does the 15 cents go?

“It’s going to affect our income and it is a taxable item,” Joseph said.

That means it actually costs a little more than 15 cents. And retailers will pay more taxes because of the extra income.

What if retailers simply don’t charge the fee? Are there any consequences?

Yamaki said there are.

“The city’s going to be enforcing this law, and yes, there is a fine of $100  to a $1,000 dollars per incident, per day,” Yamaki said.

Yamaki said the law is meant to protect the environment, but she said the use of reusable bags already had unforeseen impacts.

“With reusable bags we’ve seen more and more thieves sticking items into then and then running out of stores, so we have seen an up-tick in crime that way. And it’s unfortunate cause, at the end of the day, it’s the consumer who is going to have to pay for all of this theft,” Yamaki said.

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