Lawmakers introduce several bills to ban plastic bag use statewide

KHON - February 20, 2011
Vanessa Stewart

Maui and Kauai already banned plastic bags and soon .. the ban could be extended to the entire state. That's what lawmakers are hoping will happen by introducing several bills to reduce plastic bag use statewide this legislative session. Plastic bags are everywhere and just about everyone uses them. One new bill being introduced by Senator Clayton Hee hopes to prohibit plastic bag use among businesses that make more than $300,000 in gross income. "We're talking about the large chain stores with the polyethlene bags that are not biodegradable," says Senator Clayton Hee, (D) Judiciary Chairman. Last month, Maui and Kauai counties began enforcing a plastic bag ban. "What we've heard is that people are just saying no plastic give me paper so they're switching over to paper so it doesn't really solve the solution," says Senator Mike Gabbard, (D) Energy Committee Chair. Another bill being introduced aims at giving consumers a choice, but not without a cost. "Charges 25 cents per bag per single use bag that's paper or plastic," says Senator Gabbard. Senator Gabbard believes by charging consumers for each plastic bag they use it will force them to bring their own reusable bag. "What it says to the consumer is wait a minute I'm not going to pay 25 cents I'm going to get my reusable bag," says Senator Gabbard. "The difference between this and an all out ban is that the business community is behind this," says Senator Gabbard. Senator Gabbard says some of the money from each bag would go towards the general fund and recycling programs. Lawmakers say the statewide policy would not override laws already in place in Maui and Kauai County. "It hopefully will assist and enlarge their scope so that it will be easier for the other counties to also enforce a ban," says Senator Hee. "It's an inconvenience to relearn on how to do things but it's a necessary inconvenience to moving forward, Hawaii is getting in step when it should have been a long time ago," says Senator Hee. This is not the first time state lawmakers have introduced bills to reduce plastic bag use in Hawaii.