Caldwell urges Council to pass complete ban on plastic bags
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Caldwell urges Council to pass complete ban on plastic bags

  • DENNIS ODA / 2012

    Honolulu City Council members are scheduled to hold a final vote Wednesday on Bill 59 and have two very different versions before it.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell today urged the Honolulu City Council to pass a bill banning all plastic bags from retail checkout counters, and threatened to veto any measure that falls short of that.

Council members are scheduled to hold a final vote Wednesday on Bill 59 and have two very different versions before it.

Floor Draft 1, introduced by Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga, requires merchants to charge 10 cents per plastic or paper bag at the point of sale. The plastic bags must be at least 2.25 mil or thicker.

Proposed Floor Draft 2, being introduced by Councilman Brandon Elefante, includes the 10-cent-per-bag charge, but calls for eliminating the distribution of all plastic bags on Jan. 1, 2020.

The existing Oahu plastic bag ban went into effect July 1, 2015 but critics immediately pointed out that it contained a major flaw by allowing thicker plastic bags. While most retailers now distribute paper bags when consumers neglect to bring a reusable sack, some major chains continue to hand out thicker plastic ones.

Caldwell was joined today by members of the Surfrider Foundation, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and other environmental groups in urging the Council to vote for Elefante’s version.

“One bill, I believe, moves us backwards, allows plastic bags to continue to be used … which I believe are unacceptable,” Caldwell said. “The other bill bans these bags from being used not today, but 2020, a long time, to allow more time for vendors to get rid of the bags, to get education in place and I believe that’s more than fair.”

Of Fukunaga’s version, “I will veto it,” Caldwell said. “There’s problems with it, legally, and I think it’s bad policy, bad policy for a long time to come. We move backwards, not forwards.”

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