Business leaders protest Honolulu single-use plastics bill

HONOLULU — Members of the Oahu business community took to the grounds of Honolulu’s city government building to protest a bill that would ban a range of single-use plastic items.

Retail and wholesale business leaders gathered at the Honolulu Hale on Tuesday to speak against what they believe is a poorly crafted measure by the city council, news organizations reported.

Bill 40 would prohibit the use of certain plastic items and polystyrene containers by restaurants and food manufacturing companies. The bill would give mainland competitors an advantage because the law would not apply to their products, business operators said.

The primary concerns of businesses involve the seemingly wide breadth of the latest draft and the timeline for its implementation. The bill’s list of targeted products has expanded beyond its original intent of phasing out plastic straws, stirrers, utensils and bags, they said.

The demonstration by about 200 people included a display of packaged goods they believe would be prohibited from being sold. They included Hawaii kitchen staples such as macadamia nuts, animal crackers, kimchi and drink cartons.

“It affects all Hawaii businesses, all manufacturers,” FCH Enterprises CEO Jason Higa said.

The council’s Public Safety and Welfare Committee has allowed hardship exemptions for businesses with no alternatives to the use of plastics.

The goal is to prohibit single-use plastics, not ban all plastic packaging for food processed in Hawaii, said Councilman Joey Manahan, the bill’s author.

The last draft of the bill was “a little bit broad and vague,” Manahan said. “I can understand a lot of the apprehension that was coming from the food industry.”

Manahan and Councilman Tommy Waters, who heads the Public Safety and Welfare Committee, said they are meeting with industry leaders to address their concerns.

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