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Group Wants Hawai‘i Island to ‘Hold the Foam’

September 5, 2017, 8:45 AM HST
* Updated September 5, 8:26 AM
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Image courtesy Hold the Foam Working Group.

The Hold the Foam Working Group supports Councilwoman Eileen O’hara’s proposed Bill 13 that would reduce the use of polystyrene foam (e.g., Styrofoam) in food service and food ware products on Hawai‘i Island after July 1, 2019.

Bill 13 is scheduled to be heard by the Hawai‘i County Council on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, at 9 a.m. in Hilo.

Hold the Foam is asking the community to attend the council meeting and testify.

What started as a group of dedicated wahine from three separate organizations has grown into a collective working group comprised of local organizations and individuals, coming together to create a movement to reduce the use of polystyrene foam on Hawai‘i Island for a foam-free Hawai‘i.

Hold the Foam working group stands united in their support for this proposed legislation, and all future endeavors towards a Foam Free Hawai‘i. Hold the Foam believes that polystyrene foam is both problematic to our environment and detrimental to our economy, as it threatens native wildlife and negatively impacts our island’s waste management goals.

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“We live on an island and we need to be mindful and consider the short lifecycle of these single-use products compared to their long life in the environment,” said  Megan Lamson, vice president of the Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund. “Polystyrene foam may take decades or even centuries to degrade. Our landfills are filling up and we have more people eating out of more foam to-go containers, ultimately creating more waste. We really have to stop and think about the huge disconnect between our daily purchases, our waste and our island ecosystems. There is no ‘away’ for us. Away is our ‘āina or it is our oceans, and neither are a proper disposal mechanism for our trash.”

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According to 2015 data, volunteers collected and recorded 37,673 pieces of debris during the “Get the Drift and Bag It” coastal cleanup events hosted by multiple groups around Hawai‘i Island. Of this figure, 5% (1,925 items) were recorded as foam pieces, packaging and food containers.

Supporters of the bill are invited to sign a petition at Change.org, urging the County Council to ban expanded polystyrene “EPS” foam food containers on the island. The petition was created in October 2015, and as of today, carries over 5,815 signatures of support.

The group also encourages supporters to choose to eat at foam-free food establishments, compliment restaurants who have opted for eco-friendly alternatives, bring your own to-go containers, and ask your favorite plate lunch joint to just “hold the foam.”

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For a list of foam-free restaurants, go online or contact the group at [email protected].

Download the group’s Big Island Polystyrene Call to Action here.

Download the expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam information sheet here.

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