Categorized | Environment

Plastic bag bill signed into law

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Mayor Billy Kenoi has signed the plastic bag reduction ordinance.

Kenoi signed the bill Monday, Jan. 16, before he left for the United States Conference of Mayors in Washington, D. C.

The bill phases out the use of plastic bags at checkout counters in stores over the next year, but does allow for continued use for produce and meat. Consumers still will be able to choose between paper bags, boxes and reusable bags.

Kenoi said he considered all arguments before making his decision to sign the bill, eventually deciding it was a quality of life issue and beneficial to the island in the long term.

Kenoi said the new rule isn’t a matter of over-governance, but is more of an education and awareness move to encourage behavior change, much like seatbelt use, littering and recycling.

In the end, he said, it was about leaving a cleaner, healthier island for the next generation.

“In the end, this bill is not about plastic bags, politics or the Hawaii County Council. It’s about protecting our beautiful island,” he said.

Kenoi also urges the County Council to continue implementing measures to bolster the county’s Zero Waste policy.

The bill garnered more comments and opinions than just about any other issue during Kenoi’s term. The mayor said he quizzed every person he ran into and was amazed that it was split almost evenly between proponents and opponents.

The county Department of Environmental Management will now draw up administrative rules for implementation of the ordinance, which will take effect January 17, 2013.

Public hearings are expected on the administrative rules.

Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann, who introduced the bill, said he believes people want to protect the environment and will readily adapt to the new rule.

Maui and Kauai already have implemented similar ordinances.

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