Kaua’i County Mayor Supports Plastic Bag Ban

Posted by — September 16, 2009 8:29 pm

Kaua’i County may soon be plastic bag free. After several delays, the plastic bag ban in Kaua’i seems to be moving forward with support from the Mayor.

On August 26, Bill 2321 passed through the Public Works/Elderly Affairs Committee, but an amendment to the definition of “biodegradable” stalled the process. (KauaiWorld)

Last Thursday, September 9, Council deferred the bill once again after receiving letters of concern and opposition from both the Kaua’i Chamber of Commerce and the Retail Merchants of Hawai’i. Although many members on the County Council believe that the bill will ultimately pass , they want to fully review all information prior to a final decision. (KauaiWorld)

On Monday, Kaua’i County Mayor, Brenard Carvalho Jr. expressed his support of the bill in a letter to Kaua’i County Council. Carvalho wrote, “While I do have a concern about the financial burden this measure may place on our business during these difficult economic times, I also believe that such a ban is inevitable. Many communities have already taken this step and many more will follow.”

If passed on September 23, the Bill will go into effect July 1, 2010 and allow distribution of recyclable paper bags, biodegradable bags and reusable bags to customers. This delay will allow retailers ample time to prepare for the switch. Any retailer found distributing plastic bags would be fined $100 for the first violation, $200 for the second, and $500 for each subsequent violation in the same year. The bill also allows for retailers who feel compliance is an “undue hardship” to apply for an 18-month exemption.

Carvalho sees the time between now and next July as an opportunity for retailers and consumers to make a behavior change. “I am hopeful that we as a community will make the effort in the months leading up to the implementation to change our habits and make plastic bags obsolete before they are banned,” Carvalho said. Behavior change is difficult, but necessary for the health of the environment.

The County has taken a first step in creating behavior change by purchasing 25,000 reusable bags to distribute to Kaua’i residents in the coming months. Reusable bags will not only save retailers money, but will eliminate thousands of single-use plastic bags from our environment. (KauaiWorld)

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