Hawaii Begins Enforcing Plastic Bag Ban

Mainly Affects Grocery Stores, Restaurants And Farmers' Markets

Hawaii Begins Enforcing Plastic Bag BanAs part of a gradual phase-out program, retailers in Hawaii County, HI, are now required to charge shoppers a small fee for single-use plastic bags – the beginning of a ban that will eventually extend across the entire state. The new law, which went into effect late last week, mainly affects grocery stores, restaurants and farmers' markets.

"In the end, this bill is not about plastic bags, politics or the Hawaii County City Council," said Hawaii County Mayor Bill Kenoi. "It's about protecting our beautiful island."

With the new law, Hawaii County becomes the third of Hawaii's four counties to enforce a single-use plastic bag ban, joining Kauai and Maui. Retailers in Honolulu County will face a ban starting July 1, 2015. In keeping with the gradual change supported by legislators, by January 17, 2014, all single-use plastic bags will be prohibited in Hawaii County.

"Cutting down on petroleum-based plastic packaging and also paper packaging, lessens our dependence on foreign oil and use of natural resources while reducing air, land and water pollution," said Paul Buklarewicz, the president of Keep Hawaii Beautiful.

If a business violates the Hawaii County ordinance, it will first receive a warning letter. A second violation will result in a $250 fine and a third violation will carry a $500 fine. Retailers that break the law four or more times will face a $1,000 fine, per offense. The ordinance does allow for ban exemptions in cases where plastic bags are used for items like fish, meat, nuts, fresh produce and prescription drugs.