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The Honolulu Advertiser
Updated at 3:12 p.m., Friday, August 22, 2008

Maui bans plastic shopping bags

Advertiser Staff

WAILUKU, Maui The Maui County Council today passed a law prohibiting stores from distributing plastic shopping bags, the first such ban in the state.

The law takes effect Jan. 11, 2011, to give businesses time to use up their plastic bag supplies.

Councilman Mike Molina, who introduced the proposal, said the "landmark" legislation would benefit the environment and county taxpayers, who are spending nearly $200,000 annually for a contractor to pick up stray bags blowing around the Central Maui Landfill.

Carol Pregill, president of Retail Merchants of Hawai'i, which opposed the ban, said it would have unintended consequences for consumers, including higher costs at the checkout stand.

Her group and other business organizations favor anti-litter programs and promotion of reusable shopping bags as an alternative to an outright prohibition on plastic.

Under the new law, both compostable and noncompostable plastic bags not specifically designed for multiple use are prohibited, leaving recyclable paper and resuable bags as acceptable alternatives.

Recyclable paper bags must be 100 percent recyclable, contain a minimum of 40 percent post-consumer recycled content and display the words "reusable" and "recyclable" on the outside of the bag.

Reusable bags must be made of cloth or some other durable material designed for multiple use.

San Francisco became the first U.S. city to prohibit plastic shopping bags in April 2007, and similar measures were being considered in Boston, Baltimore and other cities.