The Honolulu City Council is expected to pass the strictest ban in the state on single-use plastic products.
A final vote is expected to pass during the council’s scheduled meeting Wednesday, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
The bill was approved by the council’s Public Safety and Welfare Committee two weeks ago by a 3-2 vote and a solid majority of the full council appears ready to pass the measure, officials said.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he is likely to sign the bill.
Plastic bans went into effect in Maui and Hawaii counties during the last year, but they prohibit polystyrene foam containers only. The Honolulu bill would also apply to utensils and other service ware.
The version approved by the safety and welfare committee would prohibit food vendors from providing plastic forks, spoons, knives, straws, or other utensils and plastic foam plates, cups and other containers beginning Jan. 1, 2021.
The ban would include additional plastic food ware and apply to non-food-purveying businesses beginning Jan. 1, 2022, officials said.
Food industry leaders who oppose the measure but appear resigned to its passage have asked for additional time to remove existing plastic container stock. The request is expected to be considered by council members before the final vote.
Jason Higa, CEO of Zippy’s Restaurants’ parent company, FCH Enterprises, anticipates the need for “additional fixes that will have to take place” while switching hundreds of products to nonplastic alternatives.
Food containers made from plant-based materials do not yet provide the necessary protection from bacteria, ABC Stores CEO Paul Kosasa said.
“The notion that we can just eliminate it and go with the (plant-based) bioplastics is false because the technology for bioplastics hasn’t come to the point where it can provide the adequate protection,” Kosasa said.
Nicole Chatterson, director of environmental group Zero Waste Oahu, said the bill represents “a manageable framework and timeline for businesses to replace select single-use plastic food containers with healthier alternatives.”