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Honolulu mayor, council chair call for less loopholes in plastic bag ban

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HONOLULU — Honolulu officials are calling for stricter enforcement of Oahu's new plastic bag bans as environmentalists are concerned that the law has too many loopholes.

Both Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Council Chair Ernie Martin said they are open to strengthening the law, which took effect July 1. The law allows the use of plastic bags if they are at least 2.25 mils thick, reported Hawaii News Now (http://bit.ly/1Dehfis).

Stuart Coleman of the Surfrider Foundation said some stores have "taken a step back" since the new law was enforced.

"And now the grocery stores, which are the biggest offenders, having so many plastic bags, are doing these thicker bags which will now take 10 times as long to deteriorate," Coleman said.

Martin said he was open to meeting with merchants to get them to voluntarily stop using the thicker plastic bags.

"Personally, I'm a little disappointed by those merchants who have, I think, exploited, perhaps, a loophole in the law and chose to distribute thicker bags," Martin said.

The new law passed and was approved before Caldwell took office, but he also agrees that an all-out plastic bag ban is better for Oahu.

"The end of the day, I think the thicker bags have to go and compostable bags, while it's a great concept, and yes, we can burn them in our HPower facility and generate energy, if we want to compost them, we can't do it here," Caldwell said.

Martin and Caldwell said the law has succeeded at improving the environment on Oahu due to there not being as many of the thin plastic bags around anymore. They plan to look into what parts of the law need to be changed and then make a decision on how to close the loophole.


Information from: KGMB-TV, http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/

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