City comes out against proposal to ban plastic bags
The city administration opposes a City Council proposal to ban plastic bags, saying there is little litter around the island and that it could negatively impact businesses.
Eric Takamura, city Environmental Services director, said he believes there are better ways to dispose of plastic bags rather than banning them, including improved recycling programs.
The City Council's Planning and Sustainability Committee deferred the bill at a meeting yesterday to give the administration more time to evaluate its current and upcoming recycling programs.
When Councilman Charles Djou asked whether the administration thought plastic bags littering the island was a problem, Takamura said no.
"We don't want to be the policemen on how to use plastic bags," Takamura said.
Many residents testified in favor of the bill modeled after several U.S. cities banning businesses earning more than $1 million annually to give out nonbiodegradable plastic bags. They argued that it would eliminate the harm plastic bags pose to the environment.
Others, including Richard Botti of the Hawaii Food Industry Association, said it would harm businesses on Oahu.
Botti, whose association represents primarily grocery stores, suggested requiring businesses to have recycling programs, encouraging reusable bags and knotting plastic bags to prevent them from flying out of the landfill.
The ultimate solution, Botti said, would be sending the plastic bags to the city's HPOWER facility, where it can be burned to produce energy.
Takamura also added that by banning plastic bags, the city could lose this source to produce more energy when it plans to upgrade its HPOWER capacity.
The City Council committee also deferred measures requiring the city to place recycling receptacles at city facilities, including at more than 290 parks. They are expected to discuss these issues at another committee meeting later this month.