The bag wars


Some stores have already started to recycle their bags.

After making a purchase at the grocery store, most of the time the items are put in a plastic bag. Even at department stores the objects are placed in it. Many people might not realize that we are using plastic bags every day. Now picture this, after you purchase your items at the grocery there are no plastic bags to use. Instead there are biodegradable, paper or reusable bags.

An article that came out on April 26 in the Star-Advertiser by Gordon Y.K. Pang said the City Council has passed a bill to ban the handing out of non-biodegradable plastic bags at the checkout counters. Also non-recyclable paper bags are banned too. A recyclable paper bag is when it has at least 40 percent post consumer recycled contents and shows a ‘reusable’ and ‘recyclable’ logo visible on the outside of the bag. It will take effect on July 1, 2015, if Mayor Peter Carlisle signs the bill.

In my daily schedule, the last thought that comes to mind is to make sure I have my reusable bag. I am not fond of paper bags because I do not use them again and it is a pain to hold and sometimes there are no handles. On top of that, the biodegradable bags, which are bags that can be broken down naturally and returned to the earth, are not sturdy when, holding the heavier items. However, the non-biodegradable bags that most stores are using are stronger, therefore I am able to re-use.

The two outcomes are that stores will change to the appropriate bag or stay with paper bags and try to get more people to use their reusable bags. The problem I find with the new bags is that it is not as strong. Most of the time, when I use it, the bag keeps on breaking. The bags become too weak, so I end up not reusing it, however it’s supposed to do the opposite. It should help people to recycle the bags; therefore they don’t toss it away. One of my local grocery stores has changed to the biodegradable bags and the difference is noticeable.

Not everyone likes this idea of changing over because it is expensive, especially for the stores. Depending on if they want to change their plastic bags or just have paper bags (since most store already have the recyclable ones) it will cost stores more. The Star-Advertiser also mentioned the representative for Times and Safeway said that both chains experienced increased costs in other counties where they had the ban already in place.

One reason is that customers are not bringing the reusable bags and having stores use paper only or even doubling the bags up. Paper is more expensive than the regular bags.

A story that came out in April 26 from the KITV said the that the government affairs director for Times and Big Save said that giving paper bags on Maui and Kauai had cost each store about $30,000 per year. Right now the supermarkets has took most of the cost but that is likely to change.

The ban is not stopping all non-biodegradable bags from being made. An article that came out on April 25 from Hawaii News Now by Tim Sakahara said that the ban excludes bags to carry produce, meats and nuts. Also garbage, dry-cleaning, yard bags and bags that hold the newspaper are still allowed.

So the items that require stronger bags are excluded from it. Basically it is choosing what they think is the best way to go about this. Making companies choose the green way or the little more costly way. Trying to have customers bring in their reusable bags, which means buying good ones that won’t break.