Commonly asked questions answered regarding bill banning plastic
Answers to frequently asked questions about the planned single-use plastic container ban, according to the version of Bill 40 that was approved Nov. 14 by the Council Public Safety and Welfare Committee.
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Answers to frequently asked questions about the planned single-use plastic container ban, according to the version of Bill 40 that was approved Nov. 14 by the Council Public Safety and Welfare Committee:
Question: Would all single-use plastic products be banned under Bill 40?
Answer: No. It would phase out only specific types of single-use plastic products — including utensils, cups, plates and clamshells — for which there are currently alternatives. Other plastics could be allowed under exemptions.
>> Related: Single-use plastics ban likely to pass
Q: When would the ban take effect? Businesses would have to stop distributing polystyrene service ware such as forks, spoons, knives and straws, and “foam food ware” containers including plates, bowls and cups for hot or cold food or beverages on Jan. 1, 2021. Other plastic food ware would fall under the ban on Jan. 1. 2022.
A: Would prepackaged products like musubi wrappers or poi bags be banned from using plastic? No. Prepackaged products are all specifically exempted from the ban.
Q: What about plastic bags for produce, candies, nuts or newspapers or the foam used for raw meats and seafood? They would be exempt from the ban, although plastic bags must be handleless.
A: What else might be exempted? Businesses could apply for an exemption if they can show “no reasonable alternatives” to their existing packaging or if complying with the ban would cause “significant hardship.” A third type of exemption that may be granted would be an “industry exemption” where compliance could pose a hardship on the entire food industry. Industry exemptions would only be for two years, with the possibility of two-year renewals.
Q: What would be the penalties for noncompliance? The Department of Environmental Services, which would be tasked with overseeing the ban and its enforcement, could order the prohibited items to be discontinued. Continued distribution despite a city order would be subject to civil fines of between $100 and $1,000 a day.
A: Would the bill place local businesses at a disadvantage? No. An earlier version of the bill unintentionally would have prohibited plastic packaging for anything made locally, including any prepackaged foods. Under federal law, municipalities cannot block interstate commerce, so prepackaged items from outside Hawaii would have been OK. Since prepackaged foods were removed from the ban, this is no longer considered an issue.
Q: Zippys moved to microwaveable, dishwasher-friendly category 5 plastic containers for its Zip Pacs and other takeout entrees that the restaurant deems reusable. Are they going to be allowed?
A: While not polystyrene, they are made of fossil fuel-based plastic. An exemption, possibly an “industry exemption,” would likely need to be obtained from the city.