The regulation will prohibit businesses from providing plastic bags at the point of sale “for the purpose of transporting groceries or other goods.”
Why ban the bag? Well, the innocent looking plastic bag comes with a surprising amount of, well, baggage. At the front end, plastic is a petroleum product, and drilling for crude is becoming increasingly unpopular for those of us who would rather not fry fish that have been pre-dipped in a BP oil slick.
On the back end, billions of plastic bags become nearly immortal litter, polluting the environment for between 500 and 1,000 years. Their effect on the marine environment is lethal, killing at least 100,000 birds, whales, seals and turtles every year. Plastic breaks down into bite-size toxic bits that are consumed by land and marine animals and introduced into the food chain, where it can kill again and again. Doesn’t look so innocent now, does it?
Many akamai businesses already have a handle on the bag issue. A great number of them have taken steps to promote reusable canvas or recycled bags, which are sold at nearly every checkout counter.
The ordinance will take effect Jan. 11, 2011, so although we have additional time to adopt the habit of bringing our own bags when we shop, a campaign called Maui County B.Y.O.Bag is starting very soon to encourage early compliance by businesses and consumers.
In fact, First Friday Wailuku on Aug. 6 will be Maui County’s first B.Y.O.Bag event. Kids and adults are welcome to make a statement while getting the message by decorating their own reusable bag at the county bag booth. (For a sneak peek at the groovy new logo, see corresponding graphic.)
The public is also encouraged to review the ordinance rules at www.mauicounty.gov/solidwaste (click on “Plastic Bag Ban”) or call the Recycle Maui County Hotline at 270-7880.
Feedback may be submitted via verbal testimony at the hearing, or through written testimony prior to the hearing (Tuesday, Aug. 17 deadline). Submit comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via postal mail to DEM, Solid Waste Division, 2200 Main St., One Main Plaza Ste. 225, Wailuku, HI, 96793.