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Plastic bag fee goes into effect in Hawaii

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January 30, 2013


By Jennifer Springer

HONOLULU, Hawaii: A new law went into effect on January 17 that will slowly ban plastic bags from the big island of Hawaii, according to the County of Hawaii Department of Environmental Management.[1][2][3]

Under the new ordinance, all businesses including grocery stores, restaurants, farmer's markets and other retailers must charge a fee for single use plastic carryout bags.[4] As part of the new law, by January 2014 all single-use plastic bags will be prohibited on the island completely.

The decision was made to ban plastic bags because they can threaten wildlife by entangling or choking fish, sea turtles and birds.[5]

“Cutting down on petroleum-based plastic packaging and also paper packaging, lessens our dependence on foreign oil and use of natural resources while reducing air, land and water pollution,” said Paul Buklarewicz, president of Keep Hawaii Beautiful and executive director of Recycle Hawaii.[5]

The law passed by the Hawaii County Council exempts plastic bags without handles used for retail items such as meat, produce, bulk food items, garments and prescription drugs.[6]

Non-profit organizations and non-incorporated community booster organizations are exempt from the law.[6]

Once the law goes fully into effect in January 2014, any retailers still providing the bags will be issued a warning letter. A second violation results in a civil fine of $250 per day. The fine doubles with a third violation and a fourth violation will result in a fine of $1,000 per day.[6]

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