No fine for Foodland

LIHUE — Some Kauai residents may have wondered recently whether the ban on plastic checkout bags had been lifted.

It hasn’t.

Last week, Foodland was sending customers home with large plastic grocery bags; an unusual sight considering county law requires all retail establishments on Kauai provide only recyclable paper or reusable bags.

Store manager Orlando Dutdut said Friday that the shipment of plastic bags arrived earlier in the week, and that there was confusion about whether or not the store was allowed to distribute them.

“I stopped it after talking with the county,” Dutdut said Friday. “We got it all straightened out.”

Written on the thick, white bags were the words: “I am a reusable bag!” and “Reuse me over and over again for a greener Hawaii.”

County Solid Waste Program Coordinator Allison Fraley said the county followed up after hearing the bags were being distributed.

“Foodland thought the bags were allowed under our law because thick plastic bags of this sort are defined as reusable under Maui and Hawaii County laws,” she said. “The managers of the two Foodland stores, Waipouli and Princeville, provided immediate compliance and pulled the bags.”

Neither store received a fine.

Fraley said there have been very few violations of the county law since it went into effect in January 2011.

“To our knowledge, all violations have been because of misunderstanding of the law,” she said. “When there are compliance issues, we provide notice to the store and allow them time to make corrections. We have been able to correct all these issues without fining anyone.”

Juliet Garcia at the Foodland corporate office on Oahu did not return phone calls.

The purpose of the legislation, according to the county’s website, is to reduce the significant impacts of plastic checkout bags on the environment, which include litter, an increasing burden on the landfill and threats to marine life.

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