May 6 - Oahu May Include Biodegradable Bags in Plastic Ban

All environmental claims are not created equal.

In the summer of 2012, Oahu adopted a countywide plastic bag ban.

However, the ordinance exempted "biodegradable" plastic bags, which have an environmental marketing claim that has already been prohibited in California because of its misleading qualities.

All things break down given enough time. However, instead of being consumed and converted to carbon dioxide, plastic merely disintegrates into smaller and smaller pieces that are no longer visible to the naked eye but have not completely disappeared.

This creates not only an environmental issue, as these bags are not better for the environment as commonly perceived, but also a consumer protection issue, since "biodegradable" products often cost more than conventional items.

On May 7, 2014, the Honolulu City Council will consider an amendment to the ban, which was expected to go into effect on July 1, 2015. The changes would remove the exemption for biodegradable bags. (Update: the Council approved the amendment, which must be vetted by a council committee before it returns to the council for a full vote.)

Read more from the Associated Press.

Oahu is the last island to ban bags in Hawaii, and its 2012 bag ban adoption made Hawaii the first state in the nation to ban plastic bags through local ordinances.

California is currently poised to become the first state to ban plastic grocery bags through a state law. Find out more about SB 270.