Kim rescinds plastic bag ban: COVID-19 emergency prompts new actions

  • Mayor Harry Kim issued his third Supplementary Emergency Proclamation late Wednesday, suspending the ban on single-use plastic bags, among other actions. (COURTESY/PIXABAY)

Mayor Harry Kim issued his third Supplementary Emergency Proclamation late Wednesday, suspending the ban on single-use plastic bags, among other actions.

The proclamation also waives several deadlines as they relate to commercial haulers. The proclamation waives the permit expiration deadlines for a commercial haulers’ permit, the deadline for submission of a residential credit claim and the requirement for interest billing.


The deadline for an owner whose property is accessible to a public sewer to connect to the public sewer is also extended.

The proclamation clarifies that the Real Property Tax Appeal deadline is not suspended; the April 9 deadline for appeals still stands. The Real Property Tax Appeal deadline remains the same so as not to negatively affect the certification of property values and the budgetary process, Kim said in a Facebook post. The proclamation will continue for 60 days, to May 30, or until further action by the Mayor’s Office.

The full proclamation can be found here:

While other governments across the nation are implementing similar bans on people bringing in their own shopping bags, the news didn’t sit well with Kona Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas. She said the state Department of Health recently reached out to counties to see if reusable bags were a concern, and Kauai opted to continue allowing the bags.

“I believe it’s in the best interest of our county to continue to use paper bags and properly washed reusable bags, both of which are a better choice than plastic bags. We can’t let the current COVID crisis be used as an excuse to exacerbate the climate change crisis and our long-term pollution problems on Hawaii Island,” Villegas said in an email.


She said the plan traces back to “conservative think tanks and industry associations on the East Coast.”

“They have been searching for any opportunity to repeal plastics legislation for years. They are using a true public emergency as a cover to advance their business interests,” Villegas said. “I believe it’s a tragic decision to value special interests over science. There is no good science to support the return to the use of plastic bags. In fact, the COVID-19 virus has been proven to live three times longer on plastic versus cardboard. Stores in the county of Hawaii should continue to allow customers to bring and use their own clean reusable bags or pay a few cents for a brown paper bag. If stores are truly concerned, they can ask customers using reusable bags to bag their own groceries.”

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