Hawaii is the first state in the US to outright ban plastic bags. They also banned paper bags that don’t have a minimum of 40% recycled content.
Although the state didn’t pass this legislation, every county has banned the bags. That will keep about 450 million bags a year out of the state’s waste stream and prevent them from ending up in the ocean.
The local Sierra Club chapter and the Surfrider Foundation led the effort. They expect the state to charge for paper bags in the near future. A 10-cent fee would raise $20 million a year which would go toward restoring and protecting watersheds and rainforest areas that get trampled by non-native animals such as goats and pigs.
Hopefully, Hawaii will be a model for other states. Last month, Los Angeles became the first major city to ban plastic bags and charge for paper bags at supermarkets.
About a dozen California municipalities have banned plastic bags, and the state attempted to pass a state-wide ban in 2010, but industry lobbying killed the bill.
Here’s a trailer for a film on plastic bags, Bag It, that’s appearing on the Documentary channel.
Read about all the plastic bag bans and the industries that fight them: