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90-day extension OK’d for education of plastic utensils ban for Oahu restaurants

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Mayor Kirk Caldwell has agreed to a request to extend by 90 days the “education period” for Oahu restaurants and other food vendors that by law are supposed to stop using plastic or other fossil-fuel-based forks, spoons, knives or other utensils on Jan. 1.

That means they now technically have until March 31 to use up their existing stock.

The Hawaii Restaurant Association and restaurateurs have been pleading with the mayor for the extension, insisting that the closures and slow-down in business cause by the COVID-19 have upended their plans to use up their wares by the end of this year.

Under the latest phase of Honolulu’s Disposable Food Ware Ordinance, food vendors were required by Jan. 1 to only provide fossil fuel-free utensils made of bioplastic, paper, or other renewable materials instead of petroleum plastic utensils, and curtail the use of petroleum plastic takeout bags.

Another provision that’s to kick in says that any utensils still allowed under the new law are to be distributed must be done upon customer request only.

“Restaurants are dealing with a lot right now, and we wanted to be flexible,” Caldwell said, in a release.“This education period will give food vendors the time they may need to use up remaining inventory while also making sure there are no unanticipated consequences resulting from the impact of the pandemic. This is an extraordinary time, we have an emergency proclamation in place, and we want to help where we can.”

The additional three months is also expected to give the Department of Environmental Services time to establish administrative rules for the new ordinance.

For more information on the new law, go to:

Questions about the Disposable Food Ware Ordinance and the education period can be directed to Environmental Services at 768-3200 ext. 6 or

More information about the Advisory Group is available at and a recording of the November 30 hearing is available at The updated administrative rules will be available on ENV’s website ( once finalized.

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