- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - Maui County officials say they need more time to decide on two proposals that would extend the county’s ban on plastic bags to include reusable ones and do away with food containers.

A County Council committee chose to defer the matter at a meeting Monday until Corporation Counsel can review the proposals, The Maui News reported (http://bit.ly/2f8Gv7V).

The proposal from council member Elle Cochran would prohibit businesses from providing plastic bags to customers at checkout and elsewhere in the store. Some exemptions would include plastic bags used to package loose items, such as fruits and vegetables.

In 2011, Maui County became the first in the state to ban single-use plastic bags at checkpoint. The law still allows for the use of reusable bags, which Cochran said “still end up in our landfills and take longer to break down.”

The second proposal would ban single-use polystyrene food containers. Styrofoam would not be banned under the bill, according to Maui County Environmental Coordinator Robert Parsons.

The committee heard from about two dozen residents who spoke on the issue. Those who were in favor of the proposals said plastic and foam products harm the environment, while others said a ban would negatively impact businesses.

Stella Yasuda is a sales representative with Honolulu-based KYD Inc., which manufactures polystyrene products and also distributes compostable materials. Melted-down polystyrene is reusable, she said, adding that compostable products require heavier materials to make, which would result in higher shipping costs for businesses.

Emily Kunz, who owns Choice Health Bar in Lahaina, said people visit the island because of its beautiful environment.

“We were ranked again the number one island in the world,” Kunz said. “It should coincide with us having the number one best environmental protection laws.”

The committee agreed with residents that more needs to be done to address pollution in the county, with council member Gladys Baisa suggesting “a more intensive anti-litter campaign.”

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Information from: The Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com

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