Supporters say protests from Hawaii’s food manufacturers and restaurant owners allowed them to work together to include exemptions for local businesses.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed into law one of the strictest disposable plastic bans in the country.
Bill 40 drew backlash from Hawaii’s food manufacturers and restaurant owners, who called it unfair for local businesses and devastating for the economy.
It went through several rounds of revisions with exemptions added to address concerns.
“This is not about taking away things from all of us, us local folks who like our local food, we get all of that. But we get it without using more plastic. And there’s a way to it. So I thank the Chamber and I thank the retailers for stepping up and they protested,” Mayor Caldwell said. “It helped us working with those who want to protect our blue continent to craft a bill that was balanced and fair.”
Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara said businesses will work with the city to make sure policies are reasonable and practical.
“This bill represents the importance of all of us to coordinate, communicate and collaborate on issues so that together we can protect our island state,” McNamara said.
The signing on Magic Island marks a major victory for environmental groups who say they want sustainable solutions to the rising problems of plastic waste and fossil fuel dependence on Oahu.
Honolulu City Council member Joey Manahan called the bill “environmental justice,” and Council member Tommy Waters credited the courage and work of community leaders and youth like 17-year-old Dyson Chee.
“The passage of Bill 40 is what we need to create a movement that’s going to make a difference that’s going to protect not only our beaches, but the health and this beautiful land we call home for future generations to come,” Chee said.
The law follows similar plastic bans on Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island.
Restrictions on plastic will be phased in starting in 2021. Business have until Jan. 1, 2022 to comply with the full ban.