It’s official; Hawaii has won the race in becoming the first state to entirely ban single-use plastic bags. It comes as no surprise, as Kauai and Maui counties had already implemented bans and organized rallies marched to push for a statewide prohibition. Not to mention, Hawaii is the only US state encompassed by water, making the possibility of marine pollution more of a concern.
According to MSNBC.com, Hawaii County will cease non-biodegradable plastic bag distribution as of January 17, 2013, while the statewide proclamation begins July 1, 2015. That gives retailers 3 years to make the switch. Furthermore, paper bags distributed in stores must be at least 40 percent recycled.
Initially, Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle was hesitant to comply, when considering the economic impact on businesses. However, given the industry had three years to adapt to the ruling, he went forward with the “environmentally friendly bill”, stating, “This is groundbreaking. Hawaii has become the only state in the United States where every county has plastic bag legislation.”
In the meantime, retailers are encouraged to use their remaining plastic bags in stock, while raising awareness to buyers on the future of reusable bags at checkout.
Recent polls indicated that nearly 85 percent of participants supported the environmental move. Advocates for the prohibition hope that this will influence other states to push legislation and decrease distribution of single-use plastic bags in the nation.