Hawaii Says Aloha to Plastic Bags, Becomes First to Pass a Ban

Hawaii recently became the first state in the country to ban the use of disposable plastic bags. Beginning in July 2015, retailers across the entire state will be prohibited from issuing non-biodegrade checkout bags and paper bags that are not at least 40 percent recycled. 

The full statewide prohibition went into effect after the concurrence of the Mayor of Honolulu to a ban that was passed last month by the Honolulu County Council. Hawaii's two other counties, Kauai and Maui, have already passed plastic bag prohibitions that will be enforced starting in January 2013. Several cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC either ban plastic bags or charge a per bag tax to discourage their use because of landfill and litter problems as well as limited recycling efforts which are often expensive. 

The push to ban plastic bags in Hawaii was driven largely by the Sierra Club and Surfrider Foundation based on the results of a report by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography which found that plastic debris had grown 100-fold over the past 40 years in the Pacific Ocean.