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Hawaii could soon be the first state in the United States to ban most plastics in restaurants, according to a law that seeks to limit the use of those synthetic materials that pollute the oceans.
Several cities in the country have already banned plastic containers, but if the measure is approved, Hawaii would be the first state to do so. It is a state famous for its liberal attitude: there it is mandatory to use renewable energy sources and it is forbidden to use skin creams that can damage corals.
There is another law that the state is considering would be even more restrictive, since it would prohibit fast food restaurants and full-service restaurants from providing plastic bottles, cutlery, bags or straws.
The rules in Hawaii would be stricter than those in California, which since last year is the first state that prohibits full-service restaurants from delivering plastic straws, and would be wider than those in Seattle, San Francisco and other cities They have banned certain items from the material.
The activists hope that the measure will prosper in Hawaii.
“We have a reputation as the example to follow, and that is what we are trying to achieve,” state Sen. Mike Gabbard, author of the ambitious law, told the legislature. “Our state will once again be at the forefront of environmental protection.”
Gabbard said that 95% of plastic containers around the world are discarded after being used only once. In the United States, 500 million plastic straws are used and discarded every day, he said.
Because plastic takes a long time to decompose, waste accumulates in seas and beaches, putting at risk the marine fauna and flora. In addition, the material contributes to global warming because it is made with oil, said Stuart Coleman, manager of the Surfrider Foundation in Hawaii.
Eric SS Wong, owner of two fast-food restaurants on Oahu, complained that the ban would increase his costs just as he must pay his employees health insurance and must deal with the possibility that the legislature would approve an increase. of the minimum wage.
To compensate, he warned, he will have to increase prices.
“Suddenly, if a family spent $ 30 to dine here, now they will have to pay 37 or 38,” he said.
Chris Yankowski of the Hawaiian Restaurant Association, which covers some 3,500 establishments, denounced that the legislature “is trying to do too much and too fast”.
He argued that there are no viable alternatives to plastic in Hawaii, and although the legislature recommends that merchants use composting materials, in Hawaii there are no places to process such containers.
Source: El Universo