Supporters of Bill 40, which seeks to ban Styrofoam and single-use plastics in the City and County of Honolulu, rallied today on Honolulu Hale’s front lawn.
A main goal of the event, said organizer Nicole Chatterson of Zero Waste O‘ahu Coalition, was to allay opponents’ fears that the expense of switching to alternative packaging would harm local businesses and result in a dearth of such favorites as Spam musubi and plate lunch.
Chatterson said a revised version of the bill, scheduled to be heard at 2:30 p.m. Thursday by the Honolulu City Council Committee on Public Safety and Welfare, clarifies that raw meat, poultry and eggs, grab-and-go items such as musubi, and prepackaged foods such as poi, cookies and chips are exempt from the ban.
While Bill 40 prohibits serving takeout meals, such as plate lunch, in Styrofoam or single-use, petroleum-based plastics, alternatives made of plant-based materials are affordable and readily available in Hawaii, said several restaurateurs and a packaging distributor who spoke at the rally.
“It’s a no-brainer, really the simplest and least thing we can do for the environment,” said Matt Hong, co-founder of Banan, which serves its trademark frozen dessert with renewable bowls and spoons.
And the business has thrived and grown, Hong said.
The introducer of the bill, Councilmember Joey Manahan, said that while the intent was never to apply to food manufacturers, “I can understood how some people could have interpreted it that way by (wording) that was a bit broad and vague in the last version.”
However, while acknowledging the revised bill, the Hawai‘i Restaurant Association sent an email on Tuesday urging its members to ask their City Council representatives to vote no because it still applied to local restaurants, retailers, caterers, food trucks and farmers markets.
To read the latest version of Bill 40 and register to speak at Thursday’s meeting, or to submit online testimony, go to honolulu.gov.