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Big Isle to ban use of foam containers by food establishments

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The use of polystyrene foam food containers will be banned by food establishments thanks to a new bill by the Hawaii County Council.

The Hawaii County Council passed a bill on Wednesday that will ban the use of polystyrene foam food containers by retail food establishments and vendors starting July 1, 2019.

Bill 13, introduced by councilwoman Eileen O’Hara passed 7-2 on Wednesday and is expected to be signed by Mayor Harry Kim.

“This is just something that we need to do,” O’Hara told the Star-Advertiser. “I understand how difficult it is to get people to change practices, change behavior and a lot of what we do is simply that, changing behavior.”

Before the law goes into effect, O’Hara said the bill calls for the development of administrative rules to enforce the new law. The director of the department of environmental management is also required to establish an education program on or before Jan. 1, 2019.

Hawaii County follows the lead of Maui County Council, which voted to ban the sale and use of polystyrene foam containers starting Dec. 31, 2018.

A number of exceptions are in place for coolers and ice chests intended for reuse, as well as packaging for raw meat, fish and eggs that have not been further processed, as well as foods packaged outside the limits of Hawaii County.

Fines will be $10 for the first, $50 for the second and $200 for the third and any subsequent violation.

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