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Honolulu Looks to Maui as Oʻahu’s Plastic Bag Ban Nears

June 23, 2015, 2:08 PM HST · Updated June 24, 3:55 AM
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Plastic Bag Ban. Graphic by Wendy Osher.

Plastic Bag Ban. Graphic by Wendy Osher.

By Maui Now Staff

Honolulu media outlets are looking to Maui as the implementation date of their plastic bag ban nears the July 1, 2015 start date.

In response to the inquiries, Maui County Communications Director Rod Antone compiled a list of answers to the most frequently asked questions about Maui’s ban that went into effect in January of 2011.

Q: How does Maui County enforce the plastic bag ban?

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A: Maui County has never had to enforce the plastic bag ban after written warning, but the following enforcement procedures are in place:

A violator is given written warning.  If warning is ignored, the director may issue a notice of violation and order either in person or via certified mail, return receipt requested. This notice details the violation and may require the violator to stop further violation, pay a fine, and pay a fine for each additional day of violation.  Businesses may appeal this violation.  The director may also institute a civil action in court to enforce the notice of violation and order.

A violator must correct the violation and pay the County a civil fine of $500.   If the violation isn’t corrected and continues beyond the deadline for correction, the violator is assessed a $500 daily fine for each day of continuing violation. If the violation continues, a daily fine is increased to $1,000 on the first day of each 30 day period following the compliance deadline.  For repeat violations the initial fine is $1000.

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The county may use other procedures for collection of fines in accordance with the law and rules of the court. In addition, the county may add unpaid civil fines for plastic bag violations to any county taxes, fees, or charges except residential water or sewer charges.

Q: How many violations (if any) of the ban have been reported since it went into effect? Can the county identify the violating stores and if so who were they?

A: Residents called to report suspected violations. After visits, some of these businesses were found to be using permissible bags. Some businesses received letters that clarified permissible bags and upon revisiting the stores, all locations had either switched to permissible plastic or paper.

Q: If there were any violations, what were the outcomes? Fines, warnings, etc?

A: There weren’t any enforceable violations. By the time the plastic bag ban was initiated, 95% of businesses were compliant with paper or permissible plastic bags; the rest needed clarification about what types of plastic were permissible. Concerned residents were given the opportunity to report a business they felt violated the ban. A Recycling Section team member visited the store to verify the report. If the business was using non-permissible plastic, it was because the business didn’t understand what was permissible and what wasn’t. These businesses were educated and a letter was written to the business. In every instance, a return to the business at a later date revealed a switch to paper or permissible plastic bag. No business has been fined for non-compliance.

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