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Hawaii Moves to Ban Restaurant Plastic

'Our state can once again take the lead in protecting our environment'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 19, 2019 4:11 AM CDT
Belinda Lau, manager of the Wiki Wiki Drive Inn takeout restaurant in Honolulu, sprinkles cheese on an order of spaghetti in a styrofoam container.   (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)
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(Newser) – Hawaii would be the first state in the US to ban most plastics at restaurants under legislation that aims to cut down on waste that pollutes the ocean. Dozens of cities across the country have banned plastic foam containers, but Hawaii's measure would make it the first to do so statewide, the AP reports. The liberal state has a history of prioritizing the environment—it has mandated renewable energy use and prohibited sunscreen ingredients that harm coral. A second, more ambitious proposal would go even further and prohibit fast-food and full-service restaurants from distributing and using plastic drink bottles, utensils, stirring sticks, bags, and straws.

The Hawaii efforts would be stricter than in California, which last year became the first state to ban full-service restaurants from automatically giving out plastic straws, and broader than in Seattle, San Francisco, and other cities that have banned some single-use plastics. Activists believe the foam container measure has a better chance of passing in Hawaii. "We have this reputation of setting the example for the world to follow, and that's what we're trying to do here," state Sen. Mike Gabbard, lead author of the more ambitious measure, said to the Senate. "Our state can once again take the lead in protecting our environment." Industry groups like the Hawaii Restaurant Association, however, argue that lawmakers are trying to do "too much too fast."

(Read more Hawaii stories.)

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