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After two-month delay, plastic foodware ban takes effect

The Maui News

Maui County’s new law prohibiting plastic foodware went into effect on Tuesday after the rollout was delayed by two months due to supply chain issues.

The ban affects businesses that package food or beverages to order (takeout, deli counter and drinks), as well as businesses that sell these items for use. Businesses must now provide nonplastic products that are safer for the environment.

Banned items include plastic disposable food service containers and utensils such as forks, spoons and knives, as well as plates, trays, bowls, cups, hinged containers (plate lunch) and straws.

The law was passed by the Maui County Council and signed by Mayor Michael Victorino last year, and was set to take effect Jan. 1. However, the county postponed the date as businesses struggled to obtain products due to the clogged global supply chain.

With the new law now in effect, residents can expect that:

• When shopping at local retail stores, utensils, cups, plates, bowls and other types of disposable foodware will be nonplastic.

• Takeout food will be served in nonplastic containers.

• Utensils and straws must be nonplastic, and will be provided by request only.

• Disposable foam coolers will be banned for sale or use.

• Plastic containers used for “prepackaged food” will be allowed, but are discouraged.

The Environmental Protection and Sustainability Division continues working with affected businesses and suppliers to help them transition toward nonplastic products.

“We are focused on education and working with businesses to comply with this new law,” Mayor Michael Victorino said in a news release Tuesday. “There is a temporary exemption process in place to assist businesses with supply-chain challenges and those that need to exhaust noncompliant supplies. We will assist in every way possible. We want to see our local businesses thrive as we take steps toward protecting our environment.”

A number of businesses, such as those experiencing COVID-19 related shipping and supply delays, are being granted temporary exemptions, so some plastic foodware may remain in use by some businesses in the coming months. County-approved exemption notices will be posted at each business location that has been granted an exemption.

Businesses affected by shipping and supply concerns, or other compliance issues, are encouraged to request an application for temporary exemption by emailing recycle.maui@mauicounty.gov.

For more information on Plastic Disposable Foodware Ordinance No. 5084, visit mauicounty.gov/plasticfree.

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