Lee Cataluna: Dishing out some political action with your Zip Pac
Zippy’s is one of the most apolitical, noncontroversial, everyone-has-a-place-at-the-table businesses in Hawaii.
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Bill 40 Cripples Local Businesses by Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Scribd
Zippy’s is one of the most apolitical, noncontroversial, everyone-has-a-place-at-the-table businesses in Hawaii. You can go there to talk politics all you want and nobody will shush you. You can go there hoping to avoid politics and the gaggle of Democrats huddled over their won ton mein at the next table or the Republicans strategizing over teri beef at the neighboring booth won’t bother you at all. Live and let live, eat and let eat.
But now, when you pay for your Zip Pac or get a bucket of chili to go, you get a call to political action with your food order.
“We’ve never taken an issue directly to our customers like this, but when it affects so many local food companies, including us, we had to let them know,” said Jason Higa, CEO of FCH Enterprises, the parent company of Zippy’s.
A slip of paper, which Zippy’s started handing to customers on Oct. 29, details the potential impacts of Honolulu City Council Bill 40, which would ban the use of plastic containers by Oahu food producers.
“BANNED: The plastic wrap around your Spam musubi … the bento box from the convenience store, plastic poi bags, trays under your locally grown meat at the super market, your tofu container, and thousands more items. But, the mainland-based chip manufacturer gets a free pass, like the mainland meat processor and other imported items. Is this fair?”
Wow. It’s enough to make you pause mid-katsu.
“We wanted to be clear with our customers that Zippy’s supports reducing single- use plastic,” Higa said. “Our concern is with a poorly constructed Bill 40, which relies upon an ‘undue hardship exemption’ process impacting all Oahu businesses while exempting mainland and imported foods.”
Bill 40 was originally about banning plastic straws, utensils and takeout bags in restaurants. It was expanded to include all food manufacturers on Oahu and to include all plastics that are used in the manufacturing of food on the island.
The paper states, “This bill is extremely unfair to local businesses and will ensure that only mainland companies can ship food to Honolulu. This bill is the death of the local food industry and deepens Hawaii’s dependence on imported foods.” The statement closes by asking customers to call members of the City Council to urge them to vote no on Bill 40 and lists the contact information for each Council member to make it easier for customers to do so.
So yeah, Zippy’s ain’t playing around.
Higa said that in 2010, Zippy’s eliminated polystyrene takeout plate lunch containers before bans were suggested, because that’s what customers wanted. He said the restaurant chain recently switched to compostable soup and chili bowl containers based on customer feedback. He uses these examples to illustrate that his company, like many local companies, isn’t opposed to change, but opposed to how the change is being mandated.
“Bill 40 asks for too much, too fast, and gives food manufacturers virtually no time to find viable alternatives that don’t impact quality, freshness and food safety,” Higa said.
Reach Lee Cataluna at 529-4315 or firstname.lastname@example.org.