HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TWENTY-SIXTH LEGISLATURE, 2012
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
RELATING TO SINGLE-USE PLASTIC CHECKOUT BAGS.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The purpose of this Act is to protect the environment for future generations. Approximately 300,000,000 single-use plastic checkout bags are distributed annually to consumers in Hawaii. These plastic bags not only pollute the beauty of Hawaii, they also emit harmful gases. Plastic bags that are not properly disposed of often drift to Hawaii's pristine beaches, killing coral, sea turtles, and other creatures.
Several cities and counties in the United States and some foreign countries have established taxes to reduce single-use plastic checkout bag consumption and to increase revenues. Ireland's single-use plastic checkout bag tax reduced consumption by ninety per cent, while generating $9,600,000 in taxes. Washington, D.C. imposed a similar tax that reduced plastic checkout bag consumption from 22,500,000 to 3,000,000 and generated $150,000 in tax revenues in one month. These results strongly suggest that by assessing a tax on single-use plastic checkout bags, Hawaii would likely achieve a significant drop in single-use plastic checkout bag consumption, as well as a substantial increase in revenues as a result of the tax. Further, the State's vital tourist industry would benefit from cleaner streets, beaches, and mountains.
This tax is intended to encourage consumers to choose paper or reusable bags rather than single-use plastic checkout bags.
SECTION 2. Chapter 342H, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new part to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:
"PART . SINGLE-USE PLASTIC CHECKOUT BAGS
§342H-A Definitions. As used in this part, unless the context otherwise requires:
"Business" means any commercial enterprise or establishment, including sole proprietorship, joint ventures, partnerships, and corporations, or any other legally cognizable entity, and includes all employees of the business or any independent contractors associated with the business.
"General plastics" means material made of non-biodegradable plastic. The term is not limited to single-use plastic checkout bags.
"Reusable bag" means a bag with handles that is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse and is made of cloth or other machine washable fabric or made of other durable material suitable for reuse, including plastic that is at least 2.25 millimeters thick.
"Single-use plastic checkout bag" means a bag that is:
(1) Made of non-biodegradable plastic, other than plastic that is at least 2.25 millimeters thick;
(2) Provided by a business to a customer; and
(3) Designed for one-time use to transport merchandise.
"Tax" means the tax on a single-use plastic checkout bag imposed under §342H-C.
§342H-B Goals. The goals of this part are to:
(1) Reduce waste in the State;
(2) Reduce exportation of disposed plastics;
(3) Reduce dependence on plastics manufactured with mainland or foreign oil;
(4) Provide businesses with an incentive to become environmentally friendly;
(5) Retain the consumer's choice of whether or not to use single-use plastic checkout bags;
(6) Set an example for other states and countries;
(7) Generate funds for environmental programs;
(8) Create more jobs;
(9) Increase the State's involvement in environmental programs;
(10) Establish a policy for the gradual elimination of single-use plastic checkout bags rather than impose an immediate ban that would create hardship for businesses and consumers;
(11) Keep Hawaii clean to improve tourism; and
(12) Promote reusable bags and conservation.
§342H-C Tax on single-use plastic checkout bag. (a) Except as otherwise provided under section 342H-E, there is imposed a tax in the amount of 20 cents on each single-use plastic checkout bag distributed by a business to a customer. The tax shall be imposed on and paid by the customer to the business. The business shall disburse the tax collected in accordance with subsection (c).
(b) The following plastic bags shall be exempt from the tax:
(1) Non-handle transparent bags for vegetables, meats, nuts, grains, candies, or small items that are wrapped prior to sale;
(2) Bags used to wrap frozen foods or potted plants;
(3) Bags to hold medications;
(4) Bags for newspapers, magazines, or pre-wrapped mail;
(5) Bags for laundry, including bags provided by hotels;
(6) Bags sold in bulk, including bags for practical purposes of pet waste, yard disposal, and garbage liners; and
(7) Bags for the use of transporting animals, including fish or insects.
(c) If a business operates a plastic bag recycling bin registered with and approved by the department on the business premises during all business hours, the business may retain twenty-five per cent of the taxes collected for its administrative purposes; provided that the business shall transmit seventy-five per cent of the taxes collected to the department.
If the business does not operate a plastic bag recycling bin registered with and approved by the department on the business premises during all business hours, the business shall transmit one hundred per cent of the taxes collected to the department.
The department shall deposit all taxes received into the single-use plastic bag special fund under section 342H-D.
(d) The failure of a business or customer to comply with this section shall be a violation punishable by a fine of at least $100.
The department, through the attorney general, shall enforce this section.
§342H-D Single-use plastic bag special fund. (a) There is established in the state treasury the single-use plastic bag special fund, into which shall be deposited:
(1) All revenues generated from the tax under section 342H-C(a);
(2) All revenues generated from fines pursuant to section 342H-C(d); and
(3) Appropriations made by the legislature to the fund.
(b) Moneys in the single-use plastic bag special fund shall be used to:
(1) Promote awareness of pollution and single-use plastic checkout bag recycling;
(2) Research and install state-sponsored recycling bins across the State;
(3) Sponsor nonprofit organizations to clean up beaches, streets, mountains, and other public places;
(4) Export disposed plastic; and
(5) Invest in technology that converts general plastics, including bottles, to reusable material approved by the department.
(c) Moneys in the single-use plastic bag special fund may be used for the installation, operation, and maintenance of a plastic recycling program. The department shall adopt rules to establish the plastic recycling program.
The department may authorize the payment of a redemption fee for a single-use plastic checkout bag that is submitted to the plastic recycling program. All redemption fees shall be paid out of the single-use plastic bag special fund.
The department shall evaluate whether the benefit of the plastic recycling program is greater than any costs incurred.
§342H-E Exemption for certain counties. (a) No tax shall be imposed or collected under this part within any county in which the use of single-use plastic checkout bags is banned by ordinance.
(b) No tax under this part shall be imposed or collected within any county with a county ordinance that regulates, but does not ban, the use of single-use plastic checkout bags; provided that the department, based on its exclusive determination, certifies that the ordinance is stricter than this part."
SECTION 3. If, after five years from the effective date of this Act, the department of health finds that the amount of single-use plastic checkout bags distributed within the State is not reduced from the estimated amount distributed in calendar year 2012, the department shall submit proposed legislation to the legislature that imposes a ban on the use of single-use plastic checkout bags within the State.
SECTION 4. In codifying the new sections added by section 2 of this Act, the revisor of statutes shall substitute appropriate section numbers for the letters used in designating the new sections in this Act.
SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2012.
Single-use Plastic Checkout Bags; Tax
Imposes a tax on each single-use plastic checkout bag distributed to a customer by a business, to be paid by the customer. Creates the single-use plastic bag special fund. Exempts certain counties from the tax.
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.