Kauai County has become the second county in Hawaii to ban plastic carryout bags at retail establishments.
Meanwhile, in Alaska, the Fairbanks North Star Borough has rescinded a 5-cent tax on disposal plastic carryout bags that officials approved four weeks ago.
The Kauai ban, approved Oct. 7, applies to all retailers in the county and mandates that they only offer shoppers at checkout lines reusable bags; non-petroleum-based, biodegradable plastic bags; and 100 percent recyclable paper bags that have a minimum of 40 percent recycled content and which contain no old-growth fiber.
Both the Kauai County ban and a ban in Maui County, Hawaii, which was approved in 2008, are scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2011, effectively banning plastic carryout bags on two of Hawaii's four largest islands.
The Maui ban prohibits all plastic carryout bags, including those made from bio-based resins. Kauai retailers have the option to charge customers for the bio-degradable and paper carryout bags, and the county plans to distribute 25,000 free reusable bags to residents this month.
Assembly members in the Alaska borough voted 8-1 on Oct. 8 to rescind a planned 5-cent fee on plastic carryout bags reversing a 5-3 vote taken four weeks ago. The 5-cent tax would have applied to grocery stores, discount chains, and bookstores with $1 million or more in annual sales.
The only U.S. city that has approved a tax on plastic bags is Washington, which passed a 5-cent tax on all paper and plastic carryout bags at grocery stores, drug stores, and retail food establishments that will go into effect in January.
There are 11 plastic carryout bag bans in the U.S., six of which were enacted this year.
Ocean City, Md., will have a public debate Oct. 15 on whether to ban plastic carryout bags.
Toronto, Canada's largest city, has a 5-cent tax on plastic bags.
Copyright 2009 Crain Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.