So what’s next for marine debris prevention in Hawai‘i related to policy?
HWF continues to collect data along the shores to help support plastic pollution reduction campaigns and there is starting to be a groundswell of support across the state (and nationwide) to reduce local sources of single-use plastics. For example, in December 2019, the Honolulu City & County Council (representing the entire island of O‘ahu – where an estimated 72% of the state’s population resides) successfully passed Bill 40 which phases out the use of plastic bags, polystyrene foam foodware, along with plastic containers, cups, lids and other single-use service items over the course of two years. HWF Board member, John Elkjer, co-owner of Sustainable Island Products, was there throughout the process and testified in person (we submitted written testimony for this Honolulu bill along with the statewide endeavor in 2019 (SB522) that passed without teeth, but with a working group. We hope to move forward with similar and sweeping single-use plastic bans around the state (county by county if we must).
On that end, Maui County Council passed their own sweeping plastics foodware reduction ordinance in April 2020 that will go into effect in January 2021 (this legislation includes plastic utensils, straws, coffee stirrers, chopsticks, cocktail pricks, etc. but customers may ask for plastic versions). Meanwhile, our team is currently working with Councilmembers on Hawai‘i Island to move forward with a single-use plastics bill for the big island ASAP. With or without policy support, we can ALL choose to re-use and opt out of single-use plastics like utensils, to-go containers, coffee cups, etc. by bringing our own containers.
Also, please join us to support your local businesses that have already phased out plastic to-go ware and made it a priority to seek more eco-friendly alternatives!