Proponents of plastics-ban bill hold rally before committee vote
With smiles and cheers beneath a bright morning sun, supporters of Bill 40, which seeks to ban Styrofoam and single-use plastics in the City and County of Honolulu, gathered Tuesday for an educational rally on Honolulu Hale’s front lawn.
Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser!
You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription.
Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story.
With smiles and cheers beneath a bright morning sun, supporters of Bill 40, which seeks to ban Styrofoam and single-use plastics in the City and County of
Honolulu, gathered Tuesday for an educational rally on Honolulu Hale’s front lawn.
They held colorful hand-lettered, cardboard signs declaring such slogans as “Malama aina,” “Single-
use plastics kill wildlife,” “I love local business” and “No plate lunches were harmed in the making of this bill.”
Local youngsters Dyson Chee, 17, and Jaffer Dakroub, 9, expressed concerns for human health as well as the planet their generation will inherit.
“I’ve tried to put this in very simple language that adults can understand,”
Dakroub said to laughter and applause. He said that Styrofoam and single-use plastics are made of fossil fuels, which emit greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants; produce waste in the oceans that’s ingested by fish and goes up the food chain to humans; end up in landfills, sickening people who live nearby; “and the cost of cleaning them up makes taxpayers sick.”
A main goal of the event, said co-organizer Nicole Chatterson of the 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 lunches.
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 musubi and other prepackaged foods, such as poi, cookies and chips, and raw meat, poultry, eggs and fish, are exempt from the ban.
While Bill 40 prohibits serving takeout meals in Styrofoam or single-use, fossil fuel-derived plastics, alternatives made of renewable, plant-based fibers and plastics are affordable and readily available in Hawaii, said several restaurateurs whose establishments have been certified as Ocean Friendly by Surfrider Foundation.
“It’s been a huge benefit for our business,” said
Rafael Baez, owner of Island Brew coffeehouses, of using renewable materials, which his customers endorse.
“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 whips up frozen desserts from local produce. “Renewables are good quality and work just as well — we’ve never had complaints, only appreciation from customers.”
And far from being burdened, the business has thrived and grown, Hong said.
Clamshells and plates made of sugar cane and wheat fiber, and corn-
derived, PLA plastic cups, bowls, lids and utensils, were displayed by local business Sustainable Island Products, which sells only renewable wares, said Ari Patz, manager of regional sales and marketing. “But they’re (also) widely available from nearly all the big distributors on Oahu,” Patz said, dismissing claims that plant-based products would be difficult for local businesses to find.
The bill’s introducer, Council member Joey Manahan, said that while the intent was never to apply to food manufacturers, “I can understand how some people could have interpreted it that way by (wording) that was a bit broad and vague in the last version.” He said that revisions in the new version should be clarifying.
However, the Hawai‘i Restaurant Association sent an email Tuesday urging its members to ask their City Council representatives to vote no because the bans 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 tomorrow’s meeting, or to submit online testimony, go to honolulu.gov.