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Hawai’i Lawmakers Consider 10 Cent Bag Tax

Posted January 31, 2013, 10:09 AM HST Updated January 31, 2013, 11:45 AM HST
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Michael Molina introduced the Plastic Bag Ban in Maui County. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Michael Molina introduced the Plastic Bag Ban in Maui County. File photo by Wendy Osher.

* Published 10:09 a.m. Updated 11:39 a.m. to clarify bag types. *

By Wendy Osher

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would require certain businesses to collect a 10-cent fee for each single use bag provided to customers upon checkout.

According to the bill, a “single-use checkout bag” would mean any type of one-use bag whether plastic or paper, recycled or non-recycled.

House Bill 357 would allow businesses to keep 10% of the fees to reimburse them for the cost of implementing the program. The remaining funds would go towards programs that mitigate the effects of the bags on the environment.

The majority of funds would be used for watershed protection and restoration, including the removal of invasive species as well as watershed acquisition.

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If approved, businesses found in violation would be subject to a minimum fine of $1,000 per violation.

The House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection is scheduled to hear the bill today.

The proposed legislation comes on the heels of a plastic bag ban that went into effect in Maui County in January 2011, prohibiting businesses from providing plastic bags at the point of sale for the purpose of transporting groceries or other goods.

The proposed state legislation aims to address environmental concerns while other counties in the state gear up for bans of their own.  Both Maui and Kauai currently have bans in place; the Big Island of Hawai’i began implementing a fee for bags this month, with a ban to be phased in next year; and Oahu’s ban is scheduled to take effect in 2015.

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