Bill 40

Dyson Chee, Plastic Free Hawaii Activist testifies for Bill 40 bringing a scroll over 60 feet long with 1,200 signatures from youth on Oahu in support of the bill.

Another hearing for a ban on single-use plastics has moved forward through the City Council's Public Safety and Welfare Committee Thursday, Nov. 14.

The vote was 3-2 with committee members Carol Fukunaga and Heidi Tsuneyoshi voting against the bill, indicating concerns from the business community. Along with committee Chair Tommy Waters, Joey Manahan and Ron Menor sided with the bill.

Over 60 people testified with the majority being supporters of the bill. Among those in support was Nicole Chatterson, coordinator at the Office of Sustainability at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and director of Zero Waste Oahu, who said the bill was “pretty straight forward” and that the bill supports businesses by giving two years of time to fully adjust “which is pretty reasonable.''

“We can move past this false narrative of environmentalists versus business. I’m not up here identifying as an environmentalist… I’m a community member that cares about our business cares about local business and cares about keeping a healthy aina that we can all thrive on,” Chartterson said.

Among those opposed was Lauren Zirbel who testified on behalf of the Hawaii Food Industry Association. She believes the newest draft did not address some of the past concerns in the bill and that “it leaves too much up for interpretation.”

“This bill leaves local food companies open to any range of potential interpretations. This level of uncertainty and unpredictability, will drive companies out of business,” Zirbel said.

The most recent draft on Bill 40 has called for a series of implementation dates on the bill which would be overseen by the Department of Environmental Service.

The first date would include an educational program starting on Jan. 1, 2020.

Jan. 2021, businesses would not be allowed to have plastic serviceware including utensils, straws, and foam foodware available to customers. Compostable serviceware would be available upon request or if there is a self-service area.

The following step would take effect Jan. 1, 2022 which would be a ban on plastic foodware which includes beverage cups, bowls, trays or other “hinged or lidded” containers designed for single use.

The bill now goes to the full Council for a final vote on Dec. 4.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell has indicated in the past that he supports a ban on single-use plastics, signing a bill that banned plastic checkout bags and non-recyclable paper bags in 2017.

News Editor

Geneva Diaz is a senior majoring in Journalism with a minor in Theatre at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Her goals are to work in radio journalism as an environmental journalist.