Report Title:

Polystyrene Foam; Food Service-ware; Prohibit Use



Prohibits the use of polystyrene foam as a disposable food service-ware product.



H.B. NO.













relating to solid waste.





     SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that the State of Hawaii has taken significant strides over the past several years to protect and preserve Hawaii's precious resources and its environment.  Recent examples such as the hi-5 container recycling program and the work of the 2050 sustainability task force have furthered efforts towards Hawaii becoming the premier renewable and environmentally conscious state in the United States.

     Polystyrene foam (commonly referred to as "styrofoam") is generally used to make cups, bowls, plates, trays, clamshell containers, meat trays, and egg cartons.  The legislature finds that the use and disposal of these polystyrene foam food service-ware products poses a significant threat not only to Hawaii's ecosystems and environment but also to the general health and welfare of the citizens of this State.

     While the legislature recognizes the use of polystyrene foam as a sturdy, sanitary, economical, and convenient product for Hawaii's food service industries, the inherent non‑biodegradable nature and chemical composition of this product raises serious concerns.

     Polystyrene foam is a non-renewable petroleum by-product resource, composed of the chemicals styrene and benzene.  Benzene is classified as a human carcinogen.  Styrene is a neurotoxin and also is suspected to cause cancer.  The Environmental Protection Agency is currently conducting an integrated risk information system review to establish whether to formally classify styrene as a carcinogen.  Furthermore, the legislature has concerns regarding the possible leaching of styrene into food and liquids when heated in polystyrene foam food service-ware products.  Eating foods heated in these containers may pose a potential threat to human health.

     Due to their inherent non-biodegradable, non-recyclable nature, polystyrene foam products take hundreds of years to decompose.  Therefore, these products pose a significant long‑term detrimental impact upon Hawaii's environment and ecosystems.

     Used polystyrene foam products are either buried in landfills across the State or are disposed of through the Honolulu program of waste energy recovery, the ash from which is then buried at the landfills.  These products take up a substantial percentage of available landfill space in the State of Hawaii and the legislature concludes that this disposal option is unacceptable, given the present lack of landfill space available in the State.

     In addition, there are concerns that, as polystyrene foam breaks down in the State's landfills, dangerous chemicals are leaching into the seepage of the landfills.  This seepage is pumped out of the landfill and inadequately processed and treated before being discharged into the ocean, threatening marine ecosystems around the islands.

     The legislature is also concerned that when polystyrene foam is incinerated at the Honolulu program of waste energy recovery facility, it produces a dense, black, irritating smoke containing acidic gases, emitting carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and the known neurotoxin and possible carcinogen, styrene.  The National Bureau of Standards Center for Fire Research has identified fifty-seven chemical by-products released during the combustion of polystyrene foam.

     In addition, residual ash, a necessary by-product of the incineration process, is ultimately placed in the State's landfills.  This ash contains many of the dangerous chemicals that leach into the seepage of the landfills and also has an adverse impact upon Hawaii's ecosystems and environment.

     The legislature further finds that the failure to properly dispose of polystyrene foam food service-ware products ("littering"), is not only an aesthetic concern but also raises significant health and welfare concerns.  When polystyrene foam is not properly disposed of, it repeatedly breaks down over time into smaller pieces.  Various creatures including birds, marine mammals, and fish mistake these smaller, broken down pieces of foam for food, causing them to either choke or have their digestive systems clogged.  This poses a significant threat to Hawaii's fragile ecosystems.

     The legislature concludes that polystyrene foam food service-ware products pose a significant and substantial threat upon Hawaii's environment and a threat to the health and general welfare of its citizens.

     The purpose of this Act is to prohibit the use of disposable food service-ware that contains polystyrene foam by commercial, non-profit, and government entities.

     SECTION 2.  The Hawaii Revised Statutes is amended by adding a new chapter to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:



     §   ‑1 Definitions.  As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:

     "Biodegradable" means the entire product or package will completely decompose into elements found in nature within a reasonably short period of time after customary disposal.

     "Compostable" means all materials in the product or package will break down into, or otherwise become part of, usable compost (e.g., soil-conditioning material or mulch) in a safe and timely manner in an appropriate composting program or facility, or in a home compost pile or device.

     "Disposable food service-ware" means all containers, bowls, plates, trays, cartons, cups, and other items that are designed for one-time use for prepared foods, including without limitation, food service-ware for takeout foods and leftovers from partially consumed meals.

     "Polystyrene foam" means blown polystyrene and expanded and extruded foams (commonly referred to as "styrofoam") that are thermoplastic petrochemical materials utilizing a styrene monomer and processed by any number of techniques including, but not limited to, the fusion of polymer spheres (expandable bead polystyrene), injection molding, foam molding, and extrusion-blown molding (extruded foam polystyrene).

     "Prepared food" means food or beverages that are served, packaged, cooked, chopped, sliced, mixed, brewed, frozen, squeezed, or otherwise prepared on the food vendor's premises or within the State of Hawaii.  Prepared food may be eaten either on or off the premises and also is known as "takeout food".

     §   ‑2  Prohibition on polystyrene foam disposable food service-ware.  (a)  Restaurants, retail food vendors, non‑profit, and government food providers, and packagers who serve, vend, provide, or package prepared food in the State are prohibited from providing or selling prepared food in disposable food service-ware that contains polystyrene foam.

     (b)  State and county agencies are prohibited from purchasing, acquiring, or using disposable food service-ware that contains polystyrene foam.

     (c)  Public contractors and lessees are prohibited from using disposable food service-ware that contains polystyrene foam in state facilities while performing under a government contract or lease.  

     (d)  This section shall take effect on January 1, 2010.

     §   ‑3  Enforcement; powers of counties.  All counties in the State of Hawaii shall adopt rules and guidelines and enact ordinances to take any and all reasonable actions necessary to implement and enforce this chapter.

     §   ‑4  Penalties.  Any person violating this chapter shall be fined as follows:

     (1)  For a first violation, or any violation not preceded within a one-year period by a violation of this chapter, a fine of not more than $250 per violation; and

     (2)  For a second or subsequent violation within one year of the last violation of this chapter, a fine of not more than $500 per violation."

     SECTION 3.  The department of health, in coordination with the department of business, economic development, and tourism, shall establish a program to educate the general public and the food service industry about the threats posed by polystyrene foam, and encourage early compliance with this Act.

     As part of this program, the department of business, economic development, and tourism, shall create, regularly update, distribute, and make available a list of alternative forms of biodegradable or compostable food service-ware products that do not contain polystyrene foam.

     SECTION 4.  The department of agriculture, in coordination with the department of business, economic development, and tourism, shall evaluate the feasibility and potential for production of biodegradable disposable food service-ware products within the State and report its findings and recommendations to the legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the 2010 regular session.

     SECTION 5.  The department of health, in consultation with the counties and relevant state agencies, and with input from members of the public, shall submit a report recommending any needed changes to this Act, including whether the ban imposed by this Act should be extended to other products, to the legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the 2011 regular session.

     SECTION 6.  There is appropriated out of the environmental response revolving fund pursuant to section 128D-2(b)(2), Hawaii Revised Statutes, the sum of $750,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2008-2009 for the implementation of this Act.

     The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of health for the purposes of this Act.

     SECTION 7.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval; provided that section 6 shall take effect on July 1, 2008.