Styrofoam ban proposed

LIHUE — Two members of the Kauai County Council are gearing up to propose a measure addressing single-use polystyrene, similar to a bill the Maui County Council took under consideration Tuesday.

Councilmembers Mason Chock and JoAnn Yukimura have been working on the measure with Island School senior Carolyn Price.

“It’s a fantastic time to be drafting this policy with Mason and JoAnn, and we’ve been doing lots of brainstorming,” Price said. “Hopefully Maui will have a good model for us to follow.”

Chock said they have been talking with food vendors and researching the issue to develop a fair bill.

“(It takes) into consideration both the negative impacts of Styrofoam on the environment and wildlife, and its potential impacts on human health,” Chock said.

The Maui bill has been a topic of debate with proponents using a 2011 plastic-bag ban as a symbol that these kinds of laws work.

Opponents voiced concerns at the Maui proceedings, saying that the ban is unsustainable and will be a burden on the food-service industry due to the higher cost of alternative containers.

The Maui ban does have a few exceptions — for things like fish, poultry, eggs and butchered meats. Also exempt are polystyrene foam coolers and packing peanuts.

Civil penalties of up to $1,000 per day are proposed in the Maui bill.

And while Kauai’s leaders are keeping an eye on the action in Maui, Kauai’s version will be tailored to address the specific needs of its people.

“It’s a matter of how far-reaching the impacts will be,” Price said. “I’d like to think it’ll propel councilmembers and citizens to provide support for such a bill, attend public hearings and vocalize opinions.”

Price, Chock and Yukimura plan to bring their draft bill to the Kauai County Council in the coming weeks for a first read and have been working on the bill together for three months.

While other measures have been brought before the Kauai County Council addressing single-use polystyrene, this bill takes a bigger-picture look at the issue.

Price is finding ways to eliminate single-use polystyrene, but she also aims to divert waste from the landfills, engage in youth leadership, and integrate drug and prisoner rehabilitation into the picture.

Her goal is to tweak the entire system on the island in order to help the people of Kauai, protect the environment and provide for the island’s future in a way that is sustainable.

“When you put together landfill diversion and youth leadership development and prisoner rehabilitation and reform, you start getting an exponential multiplier effect instead of just one value after another,” said Evan Price, Carolyn’s dad.

Involving the youth leadership and rehabilitation elements to the plan is not only a holistic approach, it’s a way to catch more attention, he said.

“Council members can see youth having an opportunity to initiate programs and being part of something positive,” he said. “Then there’s something that makes dollars and sense as far as money goes, and relates to the landfill space being utilized.”

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