Statewide styrofoam ban advances

KHON - February 6, 2019
By: 
Erika Engle

Maui County did it. Hawaii island is going to do it.

Many people want to know -- when will a ban on styrofoam containers go statewide?

A bill to ban styrofoam containers for take-out food -- STATEWIDE -- cleared a hurdle at the Capitol and is on its way forward.

Introduced by Senator Mike Gabbard, the bill was approved for further action with no amendments.

Gabbard first introduced this sort of bill in 2013, but given Maui's ban that took effect at the end of December, and the coming ban on Hawaii island, Gabbard is encouraged.

"The awareness has grown tremendously. When you live in paradise, you want to keep it paradise. As this awareness has increased, I think that this might be the year."

More and more Hawaii restaurants are opting out of styrofoam and single-use plastics in efforts to become more environmentally conscious.

More than 200 Hawaii restaurants have eliminated styrofoam containers and made additional changes to be certified as Ocean Friendly Restaurants by the Surfrider Foundation. The movement started in Hawaii and now is spreading across the mainland.

The commitment by those restaurants also increased their costs.

Many sustainable, biodegradable and compostable alternatives are available at ChefZone, a food-service wholesale division of Y. Hata & Company and Manager Christine Hoek says they are all the rage, among restaurants that can afford them.

"At minimum you're looking to spend at least twice as much for the biodegradable than the styrofoam option. Sometimes some of the selections are three times as much."

However, many of their customers are mom-and-pops, or other small businesses, with limited budgets.

"Really you're talking about the small business owner that's buying one case a week or a month, has no room to store it, necessarily, at their facilities, so granted, I mean, it's something that will definitely hit them in their pocketbooks and they're concerned."

Still Gabbard and bill supporters are pushing forward. He says, "I want Hawaii to be the first state in the country to say, 'okay, we're done.'"

We will continue to follow the bill -- and will keep you posted.

https://www.khon2.com/news/local-news/statewide-styrofoam-ban-advances/1...