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Plastic bag fee goes into effect in Hawaii

January 21, 2013

HILO, HAWAII -- A new law that will slowly ban plastic bags from the big island of Hawaii went into effect Jan. 17, according to the County of Hawaii Department of Environmental Management.

Under the new ordinance, all businesses including grocery stores, restaurants, farmer's markets and other retailers must charge a fee for single use plastic carryout bags.

By Jan. 17, 2014 all single-use plastic bags will be prohibited on the island completely.

Plastic bags used for bulk items such as meat, fish, nuts, grains, fresh produce, small hardware, clothing and prescription drugs are exempt from the law, according to the County of Hawaii.

"In the end, this bill is not about plastic bags, politics or the Hawaii County City Council," said Hawaii County Mayor Bill Kenoi in a letter to City Council members. "It's about protecting our beautiful island."

Jennifer Kalish is a staff reporter for Waste & Recycling News.