Business

131 Big Island Restaurants Go Styrofoam-Free

October 18, 2016, 8:12 AM HST
* Updated October 18, 8:19 AM
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After a loss back in June on foam reduction Bill 140, a group of women came together to try and tackle the use of Styrofoam in the food industry by endorsing restaurants and food vendors that use Styrofoam alternatives and to educate others to make the switch.

Today at 3 p.m. in the Kona Council Chambers, Councilwoman Margaret Willie will propose another foam reduction bill in the Environmental Management Committee that would reduce the amount of foam food containers utilized in all Hawai‘i County facilities and venues, and at all county-sponsored events.

It will be the first hearing of the new polystyrene foam bill.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille is proposing another foam reduction Bill in the Environmental Management Committee on Oct. 18 that would reduce the amount of foam food containers utilized in all County facilities and venues, and at all County-sponsored events.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille is proposing another foam reduction Bill in the Environmental Management Committee on Oct. 18 that would reduce the amount of foam food containers utilized in all County facilities and venues, and at all County-sponsored events.

Three women from Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund, Surfrider Foundation and Sustainable Island Products, came together to try and tackle the foam reduction issue.

These women compiled a growing list of foam-free restaurants on Big Island with support from other nonprofits, individuals, and distributors. View the full list of 131 foam-free Big Island restaurants here.

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Sarah Rafferty, the Rise Above Plastics Coordinator with Surfrider Foundation Kona, told the City Council, “Bill 140 would be an assured step in the right direction toward the Zero Waste goal for our island. To still allow fast-food chain restaurants to distribute these materials on a daily basis in a place that depends so heavily on its natural resources is irresponsible. What message are we sending to our visitors and keiki when we promote our island’s beauty and preach respect for the land yet we are purchasing foam products from overseas to be shipped here and stuffed into our landfills after a moment’s use?”

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Rafferty organized a Change.org petition urging Mayor Billy Kenoi to ban expanded polystyrene “EPS” foam food containers back in October 2015, as of today, that petition carries over 5,125 signatures of support.

Megan Lamson, Vice President with Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund added, “We live on an island, and we need to be mindful about what we are bringing in, and to consider how short the life cycle of these so called ‘single-use products’ really is compared to their long life in the environment. EPS foam may take decades or even centuries to degrade. A compostable container, on the other hand, will break down—by definition—in 180 days at a commercial composting facility.”

Lamson added, “Here locally, we are being bombarded with our own ‘ōpala (trash), which is a serious issue on an island. In 2008, our county was dealing with over 200,000 tons of solid waste each year. Today, our landfills are filling up and we have more people eating out of more foam to-go containers, creating even more waste.”

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According to data collected by Terry Miura, volunteers recorded 37,673 pieces of debris during the “Get the Drift and Bag It” coastal cleanup events hosted by multiple groups around Big Island in September 2015: 5% (1,925 items) were recorded as plastic, foam food containers or packaging, or foam pieces.

Cigarette butts continue to rank as the number one collected item for Hawai’i island (and the entire US), however, foam pieces, packaging and food containers numbers are on the rise.

During the upcoming hearing, Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund, Surfrider Foundation, and Sustainable Island Products will stand united in their support for this proposed legislation and future endeavors.

The groups remind the public to choose to eat from foam-free food establishments, compliment the restaurant owners or managers who have opted to select eco-friendly alternatives, bring your own to-go containers, and encourage your favorite plate lunch container joint to just “hold the foam.”

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