- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 7, 2017

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - Polystyrene foam containers will be banned on Maui by the end of next year after, making it the first Hawaii county to ban the popular restaurant food takeout containers.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa signed a bill on Tuesday that prohibits the sale and use of polystyrene food containers as of Dec. 31, 2018.

But he also urged county councilors to reduce fines of $1,000 daily for those that violate the ban.

Arakawa wrote in letter to the Maui City Council that the ban “furthers the environmental protections for our community.”

Ban supporters have said the measure will reduce pollution. Opponents have said small businesses and consumer will face higher costs for biodegradable containers.

Arakawa characterized the fines for violating the ban as excessive, urging councilors to reconsider the fine amounts. The Maui ban exempts foam ice chests and containers designed to store raw meat, fish and eggs, he said.

Maui acted as Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell pledged his support for a bill that would require Oahu stores by 2020 to provide customers with thicker plastic bags than the ones they currently give out.

The stores already provide clients with reusable plastic bags but Caldwell and environmentalists said the bags currently sold make their way to the ocean.

“Our animals are eating this,” said Kahi Picarro, executive director of the Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii group, “Other animals eat those, and they eventually end up on our plate again.”

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