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Oahu’s Plastic Bag Ban Blues


Hey guys my name is Tanya Torres and I am one of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii’s new interns here to educate you all about Oahu’s new plastic bag ban. Some retailers such as Foodland and Target are making it their kuleana to stand by this new law, however others are trying to get away with a loop hole of “reusable plastic” bag. I sat down and contacted some of the major grocery retailers to find out what their plans are now that this law is in effect.

turtlebagg Loggerhead sea turtle  plastic bag copy

Here is the link to the new Plastic Bag Law, stating that businesses are prohibited from giving out plastic and non-recyclable paper bags at checkout. Some exceptions include fruit and vegetable bags inside businesses, take-out bags from food places, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, and ASTM D6400 Standard compostable plastic bags. Accepted bags include Reusable bags such as bags made from cloth, other washable fabric, or other durable material deigned for multiple use; Recyclable paper bags that is 100% recyclable, contains at last 40% post consumer content, or displays the words “Reusable” and “Recyclable.”

In short, if a store sells prepared food (like Subway, L&L, Rainbows Drive In) they are allowed to still use plastic bags. At the grocery store they can still offer plastic bags in the vegetable areas, loose nuts, meat, etc. but at the checkout stand they cannot. Unless those bags are considered reusable which the definition is a bag thicker than 2.25mm. Here in lies the loophole. Instead of respecting the intent of the law, certain retailers have decided to just offer a thicker 2.3mm plastic bag.



And here is a list of Oahu’s top grocery retailers with the bag options they now provide:

Name              Number                                                           Result

Foodland        808-946-4654 (Beretania St. location)       Bring your own reusable bag

Walmart          808-454-8785 (Pearl City location)            Thicker plastic bag

Times              808-532-5400 (Beretania St. location)       2.3 ml thick plastic bag

7 Eleven          808-944-8001 (Kalakaua Ave. location)     Paper bag

Target             808-441-3118 (Lawehana St. location)      Free polyester tote while                                                                                             supplies last, then bring your own

Tamura’s         808-753-7100 (10th Ave. location)             Thicker plastic bag

Long’s Drugs   808-941-4433 (Ala Moana location)          80% plastic bags

Safeway          808-733-2600 (Kapahulu location)             Paper bags

ABC Store       808-922-1294 (Ala Moana location)           Paper bags

Don Quijote     808- 678-6800 (Waipahu location)            10cent thicker plastic bags

Sack N Save   808-487-7680 (Salt Lake location)             $1.99 plastic bags

walmartbagg                tamurasbagg

Now you know which retailers are harming and which are helping our mission of keeping our beaches and oceans plastic free! The best alternative to plastic bags is your own reusable bags. These thicker “reusable plastic” bags defeat the point of the Plastic Bag Ban Law. This just means an even thicker plastic bag that might end up in our oceans to persist in an state of endangering our marine life for even longer.

Please support retailers no longer offering plastic bags and encourage those that are offering them to change their ways.

Additional definitions:

Resin identification code (the number on the plastic with arrows):

PET (Poly ethylene) has a number 1: water bottles, soda bottles.

HDPE (high-density polyethylene) has a number 2; plastic bags are made out of this

LDPE (low-density polyethylene) has a number 4; plastic bags are made out of this

Reusable Bag” means a bag with handles that is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse and is made of: (1) cloth or other washable fabric; or (2) durable material suitable for reuse, including plastic that is at least 2.25 mils thick.

Recyclable Paper Bag” means a paper bag that: (1) is one hundred percent recyclable, (2) contains a minimum of forty percent post-consumer recycled content, and (3) displays the words “Reusable” and “Recyclable” in a highly visible manner on the outside of the bags. 

Compostable Plastic Bag” means a checkout bag that is provided to a customer for the purpose of transporting groceries or other retail goods, that meets current ASTM D6400 Standard Specifications for compostability and that is labeled:
1) With the Biodegradable Product Institute (“BPI”) logo as meeting the ASTM standard for compostability; and
2) With “Compostable” on both sides of the bag in either green color lettering that is at least one inch in height, or as otherwise specified; or within a green color band that is at least one inch in height in order to be readily and easily identifiable.”

Although compostable plastic bags are made from various renewable sources like soy protein and starch they can only be fully compostable in commercial composting operations which Oahu does not currently have.

Loop holes currently being utilized at Walmart, City Mill, Don Quijote, Tamuras, and others.