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First Statewide Plastic Bag Ban In Effect

In June, Hawaii became the first state in the nation to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21. Now, the Aloha State becomes the first in the U.S. to ban plastic bags statewide, as Honolulu County (Oahu) joins the rest of the island in outlawing the bags. The law took effect July 1.

According to, the ban includes all plastic checkout bags, defined as a carryout bag provided by a business to transport groceries or other retail goods made from non-compostable plastic and not designed for multiple reuse. However, retailers can provide recyclable paper bags, compostable plastic bags and reusable bags, which include ones made out of plastic at least 2.25 mils thick.

The city and county of Honolulu passed the restriction three years ago to help prevent plastic from ending up in the ocean, but the county is the last county in the state to make the transition. A similar ban for the Big Island began in 2013, while Kauai and Maui County made the switch four years ago.

On Oahu, violators can be fined starting at $100 per day up to $1,000 per day for repeat offenders. reports that federal entities, like the Defense Commissary Agency (DCA), are not required to follow the ban. The Navy Exchange is voluntarily complying, but the commissary at Pearl Harbor and others will not be in compliance, according to a DCA official. It does offer recyclable paper bags and reusable bags, but the plastic is not compostable or biodegradable. Stores will continue to promote recycling plastic bags at bins nearby, according to the DCA.

Affected businesses are trying to ease the transition for customers, offering various incentives. For example, Foodland is rewarding customers with a 5-cent bag credit or three HawaiianMiles for every reusable bag used during checkout. They’ll also be entered to win weekly prizes and a grand prize every time they use their reusable bags, says.

Hawaii is the first state to fully ban plastic bags at grocery stores. California recently passed a law that requires stores to charge for reusable bags, but the measure has been put on hold until a referendum is held in November.

About the author


Kristen Cloud

A former newspaper editor and publisher, she once enjoyed leisurely perusing the grocery store aisles but, since having a baby in 2016, she is now an enthusiastic click-and-collect shopper.

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