THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

582

THIRTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2021

S.D. 2

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

RELATING TO THE ENVIRONMENT.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that Hawaii's coastal waters, famous worldwide for their clarity and stunning wildlife, are endangered by the emerging threat of plastic. Plastic pollution, particularly tiny pieces of plastic called "microplastics", are contaminating Hawaii's waters, damaging vulnerable marine ecosystems, and threatening human health.

Plastic pollution poses significant threats to marine organisms and coastal communities. Most marine debris, including plastic, originate from land-based sources like urban runoff, inadequate waste disposal and management, and industrial activity. Trillions of pieces of plastic float in the global ocean, and billions more are found on beaches around the world. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the oceans are expected to contain more plastics by weight than fish by 2050.

The legislature further finds that plastic never fully biodegrades or decomposes, but instead breaks into smaller pieces that is readily dispersed by water and wind. Microplastics, or plastic particles that are less than five millimeters in size, are especially a threat to marine wildlife and water quality. These plastic particles provide a pathway into the marine food web for environmental pollutants dissolved in seawater. Numerous studies have recorded the presence of microplastics in Hawaiian waters. Larger plastic items can also kill or harm animals by entangling them or causing intestinal blockage.

The legislature recognizes that microplastics harm wildlife via ingestion and subsequent exposure to dangerous toxins, which are then transferred throughout the food web. Whenever an animal adsorbs, ingests, or otherwise uptakes plastic, it can choke on the plastic or have organ blockage or damage. The animal is also exposed to an assortment of toxic contaminants that affect its reproduction and survival. These toxic chemicals occur from the breakdown of the plastic itself and from the chemicals that the plastic has accumulated from surrounding seawater. These toxic chemicals include heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants like dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and polychlorinated biphenyl.

Scientists have documented over 2,200 species of plankton, invertebrates, fish, sea birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals negatively impacted by marine debris. Over forty per cent of all seabirds eat plastic, sometimes with fatal effects. All seven species of sea turtles that inhabit Hawaii's waters and beaches have been shown to have ingested plastic particles. Studies also show that a high percentage of the fish captured by the Hawaii longline fishery methods have ingested microplastics.

The legislature further recognizes that plastic also poses a threat to the fishing industry and people who eat seafood. As fish and other aquatic life consume plastics and the toxins within them, these chemicals can pose a serious health risk to humans. Robust medical evidence links various contaminants commonly found in microplastics with a host of human illnesses including cancer, neurological disorders, and reproductive disorders. The health risk to humans also poses an economic risk to the fishing industry, whose vitality depends on healthy ecosystems and consumer demand.

Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to include plastic within the definition of "water pollutant" in Hawaii's statutes on water pollution.

SECTION 2. Section 342D-1, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending the definition of "water pollutant" to read as follows:

""Water pollutant" means dredged spoil[,]; solid refuse[,]; incinerator residue[,]; sewage[,]; garbage[,]; plastic; sewage sludge[,]; munitions[,]; chemical waste[,]; biological materials[,]; radioactive materials[,]; heat[,]; wrecked or discarded equipment[,]; rock[,]; sand[,]; soil[,]; sediment[,]; cellar dirt; and industrial, municipal, and agricultural waste."

SECTION 3. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect on May 6, 2137.


 


 

Report Title:

Water Pollutant; Definition; Plastic

 

Description:

Amends the definition of "water pollutant" as used in chapter 342D, Hawaii Revised Statutes, relating to water pollution, to include plastic. Effective 5/6/2137. (SD2)

 

 

 

The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.