You may have noticed the signs by the cash register. Starting July 1st, all stores on Oahu will be required to charge at least 15-cents for a plastic or paper bag.

Just like the neighboring counties, Oahu will eventually have a stricter plastic bag ban.     

This new law that goes into effect next month is the next step towards an all out ban on plastic checkout bags. What’s left to carry all your goods will be reusable tote bags, recyclable paper bags, or your own bags. 

Here’s a look at what we’re talking about: the reusable plastic film bags, compostable plastic bags, and recyclable paper bags. Stores must charge you at least 15-cents each per bag! 

So where does the money from the bag fee go? We asked Councilman Brandon Elefante who introduced the law, which tightens the city’s plastic bag ban.

“The fees that are collected, that doesn’t come back to the city. That actually goes back to the merchant itself,” said Councilman Elefante. 

This charge also applies to retailers. 

“When you go to retailers and you buy clothes, cosmetics; when you go to craft fairs, to expos and you buy something, they give you a bag. You have to pay for that bag and it’s taxed, you are going to get a general excise tax on top of that,” said Tina Yamaki of Retail Merchants of Hawaii. 

The changes won’t stop there.

After January 1st, 2020, those thicker plastic bags will no longer be considered reusable. Compostable plastic bags will also be banned.

As the city tries to lower plastic waste, the higher price for checkout bags has some consumers thinking twice. 

“I don’t really like to pay 15-cents so that’s why I like to bring these, reusable bags here,” said Michael Tang, “I think if people don’t bring their reusable bags, people will need to cough up the 15-cents. It’s going to be expensive after a while.”

“That’s really expensive for a paper bag, but everyone should get a tote bag. I guess that is what they are trying to do, to make the price so high,” said Ellie Corral. “I bought some for two-dollars they are kind of expensive, but at least you reuse it.”

There are a few exemptions. Businesses are not required to charge you if you’re protecting or transporting: 

  • Prepared foods
  • Beverages
  • And bakery goods, just to name a few.

For a full list of exemptions, click here for Bill 59 (2016), FD1, CD3.