The lawmaker behind the proposed plastic bottle ban is optimistic it will pass, and not just this year

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – First came the ban on foam and plastic containers, then plastic bags and containers.

Could a ban on plastic bottles be in the future?

Bill 87 originally proposed to ban the sale of all plastic bottles smaller than 2 litres.

It passed its first committee Tuesday, but was amended to apply only to water bottles and exempt bottles for public health and emergency use.

Proponents believe the ban could help reduce marine litter and promote sustainable alternatives. But opponents say a ban is not the answer.

“It’s not going to solve the problem, especially with the bottles,” said Tina Yamaki, president of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii, one of the groups calling for getting rid of single-use water bottles by 2024 unrealistic.

Yamaki said the ban would hurt retailers — who would lose revenue — and consumers, who could pay more for alternative packaging.

“We go by what the consumer wants. And that’s why we provide these things,” he said.

“There’s got to be something that’s going to work, not just us wanting to get rid of it, and that’s it. There are other steps that need to be taken to make it positive and successful.”

Proponents of the ban point to an increase in hydroflask use – evidence that habits are changing.

“The goal is not to disturb anyone or damage the cart or increase the prices at the checkout. The goal is to look at ways we can be a more sustainable community,” said state Rep. Sean Quinlan, D-North Shore.

He presented the draft law twice before this session.

This is the first time a bill has passed a committee, but there are still many hurdles to overcome.

Quinlan admits the bill is unlikely to pass, but says the talks are winning.

“It’s a signal to the industry and the community that we are considering this,” he said.

“And what I didn’t want to happen is a situation where five years later all of a sudden we have a law like this and the industry is completely unprepared. So I’m committed to working with the industry to find solutions. “

For many, this means improving local recycling programs.

“Part of the solution has to be that Hawaii doesn’t have a general recycling system here,” Yamaki said.

“Yes, we have blue boxes at home. But like in other countries or states, you see blue bins all over town where if you have a bottle of water or juice, whatever, you can put it in there for recycling.”

The bill is awaiting consideration in additional committees.

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