World Bulletin / News Desk
Hawaii has become the first state to ban plastic bags at supermarkets. All county-level laws have now prohibited stores from handing out non-biodegradable bags.
The law went into effect on July 1 and includes Oahu, the Hawaiian states most populated island. Oahu is the last island in the state to bring the law into effect, locking it into place with every other local government in Hawaii, according to Mashable.
The ban however contains several important exemptions, such as bags used for the medical and sanitary purposes or the wrapping of meat, fish and bulk items. Retailers caught using bags for non-exempt purposes face heavy penalties ranging from $100 to $1000 per day in the case of violation.
Retailers are encouraged to comply with the ban by using recyclable paper bags, reusable bags or special biodegradable plastic bags.
Plastic bags aren’t biodegradable, and less than one percent of plastic bags are recycled. Although some can be recyclable, it costs more than producing a new one.
A report in RT today explains that, “There's harsh economics behind bag recycling: It costs $4,000 to process and recycle one ton of plastic bags, which can then be sold on the commodities market for $32,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the director of San Francisco's Department of the Environment, according to Temple University’s Office of Sustainability.
South Africa, Rwanda, Zanzibar, and the French island of Corsica have all banned throwaway plastic bags.