Honolulu passed a bill banning most plastic utensils, food containers and straws on the island of Oahu, where almost 70% of the state’s residents live.

Lawmakers in Hawaii’s largest city just passed what could be one of the strictest bans on single-use plastics in the country.

The Honolulu City Council this week voted 7-2 to pass Bill 40, which bans businesses and restaurants in Honolulu County from serving food and beverages with plastic straws and utensils and containers made of polystyrene foam. The legislation will take effect in phases, with polystyrene foam being banned first in 2021 and disposable plastic being banned in 2022.

The measure will cover Honolulu County, which the council oversees and includes the entirety of Oahu, Hawaii’s most populated island.
Lawmakers on the Big Island and Maui County, which includes the islands of Maui and Molokai, have previously banned foam containers but those measures do not cover plastic utensils. Honolulu County followed suit in 2015 and banned plastic bags in grocery stores, making Hawaii the only state at the time to completely ban most plastic bags.

Hawaii’s efforts to reduce use of disposable plastic is part of a growing wave across the country. This year, legislatures and city councils in at least 34 states have passed or considered measures that ban or discourage single-use plastic bags, polystyrene foam and single-use plastic utensils.

California started years ago, passing a statewide ban on plastic bags at large retail stores in 2014; a referendum forced the issue onto the November 2016 ballot where it passed to remain in effect. New York passed a similar measure this April. However, few governments have passed sweeping bans that cover a wide variety of plastic products, such as the one in Honolulu. 

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