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Honolulu mayor signs Oahu single-use plastics ban into law

December 17, 2019 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — A measure prohibiting all single-use plastic and polystyrene food service items on Oahu has become law.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed the bill into law Sunday.

“I support removing single-use plastics from the waste stream and reducing dependence on oil-based products, and I believe this legislation strikes a fair balance,” Caldwell said in a statement before the signing.

The Honolulu City Council passed the measure Dec. 4.

Food vendors will be prohibited from providing plastic forks, spoons, knives, straws or other utensils and plastic foam plates, cups and other containers beginning Jan. 1, 2021, officials said.

The ban will add other plastic food ware and begin applying to non-food-purveying businesses starting Jan. 1, 2022, officials said.

Businesses that do not adhere to the law face fines of up to $1,000 a day, although exemptions can be issued if they cannot find reasonable, non-plastic replacements, officials said.

There may be businesses that do not know about the law when it takes effect, city Environmental Services Director Lori Kahikina said.

“There’s going to be some confusion. We teach them what the rules are, they’re going to comply,” Kahikina said.

The bill contains numerous exemptions, including plastic bags without handles for loose items and plastic for raw meat, poultry and other foods.

“We are committed to engage on environmental issues. We understand that there is an urgent need to address climate change,” Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii President Sherry Menor-McNamara said.

Menor-McNamara appreciated some of the amendments to the bill that addressed business concerns, she said.

“From a business perspective, we want to make sure that policies are practical, rational and reasonable,” she added.