Big Island council OKs plastic bag ban
The Big Island County Council approved a ban on plastic shopping bags in a 5-3 vote today, sending the proposed ordinance to Mayor Harry Kim for further consideration.
Kim has been generally supportive of the idea, and is expected to sign the measure. Assuming he does sign it, the Big Island ban would take effect a year later, a lag the council included in the bill to give retailers a chance to provide alternatives for customers.
Council Chairman Pete Hoffmann, who introduced the bill, said it generated more feedback than any other measure in his time on the council, with about 90 percent of the comments in favor of the bill. There was opposition from some retailers, however.
"It's a small step in the direction toward making sure the environment is protected, to the degree that we can," Hoffmann said.
The bill allows retailers to provide only recyclable paper bags or reusable bags to customers, and includes fines of up to $1,000 for businesses that continue to use plastic.
Voting against the measure were Hilo council members Stacy Higa, Donald Ikeda and J Yoshimoto. Councilman Dominic Yagong, who manages retail stores, recused himself from the voting.
Maui County approved a similar ban last week. It will take effect in 2011.