Honolulu city council voted 7-2 to ban plastic straws, utensils and polystyrene containers at businesses that serve food and at restaurants in the city. The polystyrene ban will take effect in 2021 and the disposable plastic in 2022. The ban applies to all of Oahu. Maui and Molokai have banned foam containers, but not plastic forks, spoons and knives. Plastic bags were banned state-wide in 2015. California and New York have taken steps to state-wide plastic bag bans, but Hawaii’s inclusion of plastic utensils make it unique.
Business owners were concerned about increased prices on Hawaii’s already high price of consumer goods. Because everything must be shipped to the island, prices are already high in the area. Lawmakers have been working with business owners to address their concerns about price. The council agreed that prepackaged items would be exempt from the plastics ban.
Council member Joey Manahan, who proposed the bill, said of the passage, “This is my contribution to mālama honua (care for the Earth). It is no longer mine, but everyone’s because we are talking about the well-being of our ʻāina, our oceans and our planet.” Hawaii’s unique location makes it a hub for plastic and marine pollution. 85% of trash found on beaches is from single-use plastics.