Councilman wants to make more clear what alternatives will be acceptable to polystyrene

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

    A teri beef lunch plate is served in a Styrofoam container Friday at Blane’s Drive Inn in Hilo.

Hawaii County’s polystyrene ban could be amended before it goes into effect.

The ban, passed by the County Council, prohibits food vendors from using foam containers made with polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, by July 1.


Since the ban was passed in 2017, Kohala Councilman Tim Richards said an issue has come up with some of its language regarding use of eco-friendly products.

The bill passed by the council requires disposable food service ware to be a compostable product or a recyclable product, with the latter defined as material accepted by the county’s recycling program.

The county doesn’t yet have a composting facility in place and doesn’t accept all recyclable materials in its recycling program. He said he wants to make it more clear what compostable and recyclable means to avoid confusion about acceptable alternatives.

“We, as a county and a council, look forward to having the implementation occur,” said Richards, who voted for the ban. “That being said, we just got to clean up the language.”

He said he is not trying to delay implementation.

Richards chairs the council’s Agriculture, Water, Energy and Environmental Management Committee. He anticipates having a bill to amend the ordinance ready in two to three weeks.

Meanwhile, the county Department of Environmental Management is drafting rules to enforce the ban.

The department will have public hearings on the draft rules from 2-4 p.m. May 14 at the Aupuni Center Conference Room in Hilo and 2-4 p.m. May 15 at the West Hawaii Civic Center.

Under the law, violators can be fined $10 for the first violation, $50 for the second and up to $200 for the third.


The ordinance and draft rules can be viewed at

Email Tom Callis at

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