Lawmakers in the Aloha State want to do away with plastic foam food containers and other items.
One measure would make Hawaii the first state to bar restaurants and other establishments from giving out polystyrene foam food containers. Another bill would prohibit "the purchase, use, sale, or distribution of plastic beverage bottles, utensils, stirring sticks, polystyrene foam containers, plastic bags and straws by state and county agencies, restaurants, standard bars, and any other businesses or individuals on a certain date."
In a speech to his fellow legislators, State Senator Mike Gabbard (D-District 20) said it's about cutting down on waste and protecting the oceans.
"We have this reputation of setting the example for the world to follow, and that's what we're trying to do here," said Gabbard, father of Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii). "Our state can once again take the lead in protecting our environment."
Jeff Stier of the Consumer Choice Center says all Americans are affected by what happens in the oceans and should all work to reduce pollution – but that doesn't justify banning all uses of products, he argues.
"And it's not only to ban plastics because they claim it winds up in the ocean," he adds, "but [also] because it's petroleum-based – and that's what's been driving the anti-plastics campaigns for a long time."
Stuart Coleman, Hawaii manager for the Surfrider Foundation, an organization dedicated to protecting the ocean, waves, and beaches, tells The Associated Press that plastics do contribute to climate change because oil is used to make the products.
Regardless, a big issue on the minds of some restaurant owners in Hawaii is how much extra this will impact eateries already burdened with rising costs of insurance and labor. Alternatives to plastic foam food containers are more expensive, and most restaurants will pass the cost on to consumers.