Plastic bag ban begins on Kauai and Maui, fee discussed for rest of state

Hawaii News Now - Jan 11, 2011
Tim Sakahara

KAPAA, KAUAI - At the Big Save Supermarket in Kapa'a, Kauai it's out with plastic bags and in with paper sacks.
"We just started the paper bags today, so far so good, I didn't hear anything bad yet," said Marycel Garcia, Big Save Supermarket Assistant Manager.
"It's a great day today. I got one of the first bags from Big Save, I think it's a great idea, plastic, it's going to do us all in," said Cecil G, shopper.
Some stores on Maui are not following the law yet. We're told the Kmart and Ross Dress for Less in Kahului are still using plastic bags.
Stores that don't comply face a $500 a day fine. It's all to avoid plastic bags littering the environment.
"We have some pristine trails where plastic bags were found once we allow these to get out in the wild who knows where they'll wind up," said Robert Harris, Sierra Club, Hawaii Chapter.
The Sierra Club started a site called and invited the public to submit their photos of plastic bags affecting the environment.
"Whenever you give something away for free people tend to over utilize and don't recognize the problems they cause," said Harris.
State Senator Mike Gabbard is thinking about introducing a bill this session not to ban, but to charge 25 cents per plastic bag. It's similar to other places in the world.
"Ireland is 22 cents since 2007 and interesting what I found about Ireland since they instituted the ban it is socially unacceptable now to be seen with a plastic bag in public," said Sen. Gabbard, (D) Energy & Environment Committee Chair.
Stores like Foodland already offer incentives to customers to remember re-usable shopping bags. They give you a five cent credit and after 10 visits with a reusable bag you get a free bag of nuts.
"Today was my last stamp so I get my free nuts next time," said Frankie Quinabo, a shopper who enthusiastically supports a plastic bag ban. "It's an incentive. I went back out to the car to get the bag just because I knew it was my last stamp today."
While many customers agree with a plastic bag ban, it didn't stop them from using them. As for paying 25 cents per bag, that would take time to get used to.
"It's easier to ban then to create a specific financial burden for them," said Marty Sanders, shopper.
"It's going to take time. Change happens," said David McCulloch, shopper.
"At first glance that's a problem for some people but in the end it will give people more incentive to bring their own bags. In the end we are actually paying for them anyone, the cost is just passed on to us," said Brian Russo, shopper.
The 25 cent fee per bag is still just an idea. It would need to pass the house and senate. A similar bill that would have charged 5 cents died last year.
Sen. Gabbard says 60 percent of the money raised from a potential bag fee would go to the state Department of Health. The other 40 percent would go back to the retailer.