East Hawaii News

Foam Food Container Bills to be Heard Tuesday

April 29, 2016, 9:07 AM HST
* Updated April 29, 12:49 PM
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Wikki Commons.

Wikki Commons.

Public education, rather than a ban of disposable polystyrene food containers, is the idea behind an alternative plan Hawai’i County Council member Greggor Ilagan plans to introduce Tuesday when the council’s Environmental Management Committee meets.

The plan is the latest in the debate between what the county should do with polystyrene foam disposable food service containers.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille previously proposed a bill, Bill No. 140-16, to place a total ban on disposable polystyrene food containers. That bill was heard but referred to the Environmental Management Commission. Proposed amendments were suggested from the commission.

Wille’s ban is also on the agenda for the Tuesday committee meeting.

Illagan says his bill, Bill 204-16, suggests that the Department of Environmental Management establishes a public education campaign in order to reduce the use of polystyrene foam disposable food service containers rather than a total ban, and says he is introducing the bill to provide the council with an alternative to a total ban.

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“This bill will protect the environment by giving business owners an incentive – in this case, promotion of green credentials – to move away from polystyrene containers,” said Ilagan. “The education campaign will promote environmentally friendly alternatives to the public. It can be a major component of the Zero Waste initiative that the Department of Environmental Management is already doing.”

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Illagan said that his bill was built upon a 2014 report from a task force created by the Maui County Council to regulate the containers. He says the findings in that study including the agreement the educational outreach and litter control were important aspects of addressing litter impacts, helped to build the bill.

“There are many restaurants in Puna that have already transitioned away from polystyrene containers, and we want to support and recognize them,” Ilagan said. “If we publish a list of restaurants that do not use polystyrene containers, people will know which restaurants are still using them, and that will bring market pressure on them to change.”

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