Maui plastic ban 2020

‘Ano ‘ai kakou, it is with great anticipation that we work towards passing legislation to restrict the sale and use of plastic disposable foodware in Maui County. As the Chair of the Environment, Agriculture and Cultural Preservation (EACP) Committee I am working on a bill that builds on past county successes to limit plastic bags and the use of foodware polystyrene. We need to address the growing plastic pollution problem on our island today and follow suit with other policies adopted in Malibu, Seattle and most recently, the City of Honolulu.  

Plastic disposable utensils are a major contributor to street and beach litter, and ocean pollution. Pollution in our water originates on land and breaks down into microplastics. This is then ingested by marine animals causing irreparable harm to them and our valuable ocean environment. For this reason I am introducing a bill that focuses on banning single-use plastic disposable foodware such as straws, forks, spoons, knives, cups, plates and foam coolers. 

If the bill passes this spring it won’t go into effect for at least another year. This extra time will allow local businesses, who use plastic foodware, to expend their inventory and look for other sustainable options, including those made from locally-sourced plant-based materials.

This bill will not restrict certain items, such as packaging for raw or butchered meats like beef, chicken, seafood and eggs or pre-packaged foods like potato chips or poi. It also exempts the use of single use plastic for emergency governmental purposes and at hospitals, residential care homes and other health agencies. The bill also does not address plastic water bottles and disposable thin shopping bags, both significant contributors to pollution. These items will be followed up on in separate bills as they require a closer look at federal regulations and market ready new products.

If you agree with the measure to restrict single-use plastic on Maui please send testimony to support this bill to EACPcommittee@mauicounty.us. You can always start now by carrying your own reusable utensils when you are on the go, using a water flask and refilling instead of buying bottled water and teaching our keiki to reduce, reuse and recycle. We should all pledge our commitment to Aloha ‘Aina values that seek to preserve and protect our natural island environment for future generations to enjoy. Please lend your time and kokua for our keiki, Aloha nui kakou!

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Shane Sinenci is the chair of the EACP committee. He grew up in Hana and enjoyed fishing along the shoreline. Shane is a conservationist and an advocate for open space and environmental protection. To learn more go to www.mauicounty.us/sinenci or email him at shane.sinenci@mauicounty.us

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