In Hawaii, every resident is estimated to generate 2.8 tons of waste annually. Practically every island in the state contains plastic litter and debris, including microplastics that may be detrimental to the growth and development of marine fish. To address this waste problem, the state has established bans on plastic bags, polystyrene foam food ware, and disposable plastic utensils in recent years. Now, they are taking it a step further.

Last month, State Representative Sean Quinlan authored a bill banning the retail sale of single-use plastic bottles—specifically, those holding less than two liters of water—and submitted it to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature. Bottled water for emergency response and public health and safety are exempt from the ban. Although the bill is expected to come with significant environmental benefits, it doesn’t come without potential challenges and drawbacks.

Plastic bottles make up a large fraction of plastic waste found in the environment. According to data from the nonprofit environmental advocacy group Ocean Conservancy, plastic beverage bottles are the second most littered item in the world. “Reducing our dependence on plastic bottles, or any throwaway container solution, would certainly be a good thing for the environment,” says Spencer J. Ingley, assistant professor of biology at the Brigham Young University – Hawaii.

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Author: Carla Delgado, Popular Science
Image: Pexels, Popular Science