Big Island of Hawai’i Latest to Ban Plastic Bags

In December, the Hawai’i County Council passed a bill banning the use of plastic bags on what is known as the “Big Island” of Hawai’i. Yesterday, Mayor Billy Kenoi signed the bill into law. Kenoi had the option to simply abstain and let the bill pass into law, but his signature adds political credibility to the increasing trend of plastic bag bans across the world.

The Big Island now joins the islands of Maui and Kauai in the ban of plastic bags. Honolulu County, which contains the island of Oahu, where the majority of the population of the state of Hawai’i lives, has struggled to pass similar legislation, though a new version of a bill that has not passed yet will come before the county council this year.

Kenoi acknowledged plastic bags often become litter when he said, “this bill holds the promise of keeping our island clean, healthy and safe, and we need to finish the job.”

Some businesses have misgivings, citing the extra cost of providing paper bags to customers. Realistically, however, businesses are best at reducing costs. With the level playing field of having no plastic bags allowed, businesses might now consider charging 5 or 10 cents for each paper bag given, and providing real incentives for shoppers to bring their own bags.

The bill won’t take effect until January 17, 2013, and businesses on the Big Island will still be able to give plastic bags for one additional year, the extra time given to allow businesses to get rid of any inventory they have and not get stuck with them.



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Photo credit Kouk on Flickr Creative Commons

Scott Cooney, Principal of and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill, November 2008), is also a serial ecopreneur who has started and grown several green businesses and consulted several other green startups. He co-founded the ReDirect Guide, a green business directory, in Salt Lake City, UT. He greened his home in Salt Lake City, including xeriscaping, an organic orchard, extra natural fiber insulation, a 1.8kW solar PV array, on-demand hot water, energy star appliances, and natural paints. He is a vegetarian, an avid cyclist, ultimate frisbee player, and surfer, and currently lives in the sunny Mission district of San Francisco. Scott is working on his second book, a look at microeconomics in the green sector.In June 2010, Scott launched, a sustainability consulting firm dedicated to providing solutions to common business problems by leveraging the power of the triple bottom line. Focused exclusively on small business, GBO's mission is to facilitate the creation and success of small, green businesses.