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Bill would ban Styrofoam food containers on Maui


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POSTED: Saturday, June 06, 2009

WAILUKU » Styrofoam “;clamshell”; food containers could be banned on Maui out of concern that they damage the environment.

About 300 restaurants and other food service companies in Maui County sell their takeout plate lunches in such containers. Those businesses would be required to replace the polystyrene—more commonly known as Styrofoam—with biodegradable takeout boxes and containers.

The bill was introduced by Maui Councilman Mike Victorino, who says Styrofoam is often eaten by animals and fish, does not break down and can exist for possibly thousands of years.

Biodegradable takeout containers could cost 6 to 12 percent more than Styrofoam containers, he said. Styrofoam plates cost about 9 cents each.

Opponents of the ban claim the costs would be passed on to cash-strapped consumers.

Harry Nakagawa, vice president of Maui Chemical and Paper Products Inc., said some compostable containers cost as much as 40 percent more than standard Styrofoam containers.

Environmentalists like Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter Vice President Lucienne de Naie said a ban could help cut down on litter.

The proposal will go to the Maui County Council's Infrastructure Management Committee for discussion.

The ban would take effect in 2011. A separate law prohibiting stores from distributing plastic bags on Maui also starts in 2011.