HILO, Hawaii – The chorus of voices in support of a proposed ban on polystyrene food containers was not enough to carry the needed council votes.
Bill 140 died at the Hawai County Council meeting on Friday when a 4-4 voting tie failed to advance the bill to second and final reading. East Hawaii councilmen Aaron Chung, Dennis Onishi, Greggor Ilagan and Danny Paleka voted “no” on Bill 140, while councilwomen Valerie Poindexter, Karen Eoff, Maile David, and bill introducer Margaret Wille voted “aye”. Dru Kanuha was absent for the vote. He previously voted against the measure in committee.
A large group of testifiers – many wearing green “Hold The Foam” shirts – spoke in support of the bill before the decision was made. There was only one testifier who spoke in opposition.
Supporters of the bill say polystyrene foam is harmful to the environment, however the products are used as traditional food containers for local plate lunch shops in Hawaii.
Bill 140 would have prohibited food vendors from dispensing prepared food in disposable polystyrene food service ware, effective July 1, 2018. There were exemptions: ice chests and coolers, for example, as well as County facility users and food vendors with approval by the Environmental Management Director, as well as County facility users and food vendors procuring supplies during an event declared as an emergency by the Mayor.