Single-use plastic ban considered on Oahu

HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu officials have proposed prohibiting single-use plastics at food service establishments, a proposal on which the county is divided, a report said.

Honolulu City Council was scheduled to discuss the bill Wednesday at a monthly meeting, the Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday.

The bill would prohibit food vendors from distributing plastic service ware to customers, including foam containers and other non-compostable items, unless specifically allowed, officials said.

“We’re looking for some kind of a ban on single-use plastics,” city councilman Joey Manahan said adding that foam containers and plastic straws are among the top items on the target list.

The Hawaii Food Industry Association and the Hawaii Restaurant Association have historically opposed plastic bans.

“In addition to being more expensive for businesses and consumers, the alternatives to plastic utensils are also not always available in the quantities that Oahu businesses need,” food industry executive director Lauren Zirbel said. “We believe that a more proactive and functional way for the county to reduce the total amount of waste generated would be through incentives.”

The Department of Environmental Services would oversee the ban and provide waivers to companies who prove the bill would cause undue hardship, officials said.

Manahan expects environmental groups will support the bill he introduced.

“We’re doing so much around climate change and sustainability,” Manahan said. “We’re so concerned about sea level rise, but here we are still producing plastics in the state. Is that a sustainable practice going forward?”

Mayor Kirk Caldwell has also addressed the state’s need to cope with sea level rise and other environmental priorities.