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How to support Ordinance 19-30

October 14, 2020
By: Jaclyn Johnson


It has been nearly a year since the passage of Bill 40, now Ordinance 19-30, a landmark single-use plastics reduction bill for the City & County of Honolulu. This bill is one of, if not the, most comprehensive and ambitious pieces of legislation in the country for reducing single-use plastics in food service, and we are so stoked for it to ramp up! For additional details on and implementation materials for Ordinance 19-30, check out Opala.org’s new information page.

Beginning on January 1, 2021, Phase I of Ordinance 19-30 will require all food vendors to:

  • Only offer service ware such as utensils, chopsticks, and stirrers BY REQUEST ONLY, and they can’t be made of fossil-fuel plastic. This means the employee or ordering platform has to ask you if you want those extra disposables, you can request them if you need them, or they will be offered in a dispenser for you to grab your own. This can be a huge cost savings for restaurants and food trucks; literally thousands of dollars a year!
  • Polystyrene foam foodware shall not be sold, provided, or offered for sale or use at any City facility, City-authorized concession, City-sponsored or City-permitted event, or City program. This means if you’re cruising at Ala Moana Beach Park, the L&L shouldn’t be using foam for your plate lunch, and if you’re taking an ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi class at the City & County rec center, there shouldn’t be any lumpia served in foam either!
  • The exemption for single-use, plastic film bags to be used for food takeout is gone! Like on neighbor islands who got it right years ago, your favorite vendors should be giving you your to-go order in paper bags, a repurposed box, or no bag at all. Unfortunately, there is a loophole that allows vendors to still use handless plastic bags if there is steam or condensation, so some vendors may still choose to distribute these bags.

As much as we are thrilled for this new law to take effect, there are some in the restaurant industry that are still fighting to stop the implementation of these measures. How can you continue to support Ordinance 19-30?

  1. In these next few months before Phase I begins, we encourage you to tell your favorite restaurants that you are excited to see these changes and that you will keep supporting them! For the ones offering handless plastic film bags for takeout, let them know you support their switch to paper or repurposed boxes.
  2. Encourage your favorite restaurants to start early, and start saving money today! They need to hear that this is still the will of the people who are their customers.
  3. Thank a business today that is already doing the right thing and making these changes early! Check out Surfrider Oahu’s Ocean Friendly Restaurant Directory to learn more about single-use plastic free eateries.
  4. Email [email protected] your favorite restaurant that is committed to reducing single-use plastics.
  5. If you are a restaurant owner yourself that supports plastics reduction on Oʻahu, tell your Chamber of Commerce chapter that you want to see their support for strategies and resources to implement effectively, instead of fighting against change and progress.

Additional Resources:

  • Check out what Bill 40 Hero, Dyson Chee has been up to in this amazing article An Introvert’s Guide to Making Plastic History
  • Beyond Plastics is joined by more than 125 other environmental leaders and a growing number of customers in asking food delivery companies to help reduce unnecessary plastic pollution by making a change to their ordering systems. Check out Beyond Plastics - Take Action page for more solutions, letter writing tools, films, and more to tackle the plastic pollution problem!
  • Over 125 health experts from 18 countries, including virologists, epidemiologists, specialists in public health and food packaging safety, signed onto a statement addressing the safety of reusable bags and containers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The statement, released by Greenpeace USA and UPSTREAM, assures retailers and consumers that reusable systems can be utilized safely by employing basic hygiene and creating contact-free options for customers’ personal bags and cups.
  • Check out Opala.org website and explore their amazing resources to better understand Ordinance 19-30!