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Statement in Response to Plastics Ban Delay & How To Support Ordinance 19-30

December 15, 2020
By: Kōkua Hawai'i Foundation, Surfrider Foundation & Zero Waste O'ahu



Surfrider Foundation, Zero Waste Oʻahu & Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation Issue Statement in Response to Plastics Ban Delay

December 14, 2020 - On December 10th, the City and County of Honolulu announced a 90-day “Education Period” for the Disposable Foodware Ordinance (Ordinance 19-30, previously known as Bill 40). This Education Period moves the implementation of the law from January 1, 2021 to April 1, 2021.

“Our organizations look forward to working with the incoming Blangiardi administration to ensure the swift and effective rollout of this ordinance, which received overwhelming support from a wide base of community members, including local businesses,” stated Jennifer Milholen, Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation's Waste Reduction Coordinator.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented and difficult year for our local businesses. With shutdowns and financial uncertainty, some restaurants have been unable to prepare for the original January 1 effective date. Given these circumstances, a 90-day Education Period for restaurants to prepare for the Disposable Food Ware Ordinance (DFWO) is both reasonable and compassionate.

Popular Support For and Benefits of the Ordinance
The passage of this historic law is the result of over a decade of education, awareness, and organizing from a wide coalition of community members, including youth, restaurants, small businesses, and nonprofits. The bill passed with sweeping public support and a 7-2 vote by the Honolulu City Council. At the final hearing, a scroll signed by thousands of students was presented to ask the City Council to consider their future and pass Bill 40.

The ordinance will be implemented in two phases. The first phase can save businesses thousands of dollars through the “by request only” mandate. This requires food establishments to provide disposable utensils and straws only upon request. Businesses, customers, and the environment benefit by avoiding single-use items that are not required or desired.

“More and more customers eat their take-out at home due to COVID-19,” points out Doorae Shin of the Surfrider Foundation Oʻahu Chapter. “Customers have utensils and home and in the office, and restaurants are wasting precious money by giving away chopsticks and utensils that are not needed.”

Additionally, while eco-friendly alternatives can be more costly than petroleum-based plastic, the prices for plastic-free items are already dropping and will decrease rapidly as more and more businesses make the switch.

Stalls Will Make Plastic Pollution Worse
Over the decade it has taken to pass a comprehensive plastic reduction law, our shorelines, reefs and local wildlife have been increasingly inundated with plastic.

“As the problem continues to worsen, the same special interest groups and large businesses have worked to undermine the changes our keiki and our community have fought so hard for,” stated Nicole Chatterson, Executive Director of the Zero Waste Oʻahu.

Soon after the passage of Ordinance 19-30, and before the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact our islands, special interest groups were already seeking routes for exemption from and delays to the new ordinance.

“Meanwhile,” Chatterson points out, “numerous local and small businesses had already begun to take action on the important issue of plastic pollution both on their own accord and with the support of programs like Ocean Friendly Restaurants.”

Ocean Friendly Restaurants, a Surfrider Foundation program, certifies restaurants that are making progress towards plastic reduction. They offer free signage for any businesses to share the utensils “Upon Request Only” messaging to customers. More information at oahu.surfrider.org/ofr.

Ordinance 19-30 stands as one of the most ambitious and impactful pieces of policy to address plastic pollution. It passed with widespread support from the public, from our youth, and from the City Council and we look forward to the positive changes it will bring to our island community.

Businesses can access educational resources on implementing the DFWO such as flyers to post in their establishment to educate both employees and the public at: https://opala.org/solid_waste/disposable_food_ware_ordinance.html



Doorae Shin, Surfrider Foundation Oahu Chapter Coordinator
[email protected] | (808) 492-3954

Nicole Chatterson, Zero Waste Oʻahu Director
[email protected] | ‭(808) 561-7730‬

Jennifer Milholen, Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation Waste Reduction Coordiator
[email protected] | (808) 277-7096
Ari Patz, Sustainable Island Products
[email protected] | ‭(808) 391-7134‬