POSTED: 3:07 p.m. HST, Feb 29, 2012
Members of the City Council's Public Works and Sustainability Committee today advanced a bill banning the distribution of plastic bags by most retailers on Oahu despite opposition raised by supermarkets and other business interests.
Oahu is the only one of Hawaii's four counties without a plastic bag ban.
Maui and Kauai have already imposed bans, while the Hawaii County law takes effect next year and merchants would still be allowed to sell plastic bags for another year without penalty.
Under the bill being considered in Honolulu, businesses making more than a yet-to-be-determined gross sales amount would be required to distribute only compostable bags, recylable paper bags, or reusable bags to customers.
The bill now goes back to the City Council for the second of three required readings.
Several council members, among them Nestor Garcia and Romy Cachola, said they would prefer to see if the Legislature passes a bill requiring a fee for single-use plastic bags.
Retailers and other business interests said a per-bag fee would be more effective in fighting plastic bag pollution while a ban on plastic bags would cost more.
City Environmental Services Director Tim Steinberger did not support or oppose the bill, but noted that the city would incur additional costs for administration and enforcement if a plastic bag ban were imposed.