Kauai Council approves ban on plastic bags with 4-2 vote


POSTED: Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Kauai County Council voted 4-2 yesterday to ban plastic carryout bags.

The bill was introduced by council members Tim Bynum and Lani Kawahara.

Under the bill, retailers — from minimarts to plate-lunch spots, pharmacies, liquor stores and supermarkets — may offer only biodegradable plastic, 100 percent recyclable paper, or reusable tote bags at checkout. Retailers can choose to charge for the bags.

The bill goes into effect on Jan. 11, 2011, the same day that Maui County's plastic checkout bag ban goes into effect. The bill originally proposed putting the ban in place in July 2010.

“;I'm pleased that it passed today,”; Bynum told the Star-Bulletin. “;It's the right thing to do for the environment, for Kauai and for the state of Hawaii.”;

Bynum said overall, the council received more testimony in support of the bill than opposition to it. Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. also supported the bill.

Some groups, such as the Kauai Chamber of Commerce, said they supported the spirit of the bill but were against further government intervention.

The Retail Merchants of Hawaii opposed the ban, saying the higher costs of offering alternatives would be passed on to the consumer.

Whereas Maui County's ban prohibits all kinds of plastic bags, Kauai County's ban allows for biodegradable bags that conform to a European standard and contain no polymers derived from fossil fuels. These single-use bags must also decompose at a rate comparable to paper, leaves and food waste.

Kauai's bill allows for only paper bags that contain no old-growth fiber and a minimum of 40 percent post-consumer content.

Penalties for retail establishment owners violating the Kauai County plastic-bag ban are $250 a day for the first notice, $500 a day for the second notice, and $1,000 a day for the third and subsequent notices of violation within 365 days of the first notice.