Effective April 1, 2020 the County of Hawai‘i’s Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance has been temporarily suspended by Mayor Harry Kim’s Third Supplemental Emergency Proclamation for COVID-19.
“The County’s Third Supplementary Emergency Proclamation temporarily suspends Hawai‘i County Code Chapter 14, Article 20, Plastic Bag Reduction. The reason for the temporary suspension of the ban on single-use plastic bags is to discourage the introduction of germs or the virus into stores that could be present on personal reusable bags. Local stores will continue to use paper bags as a priority while their supplies last; plastic bags may be used for greater volume or wetter items.”
The purpose of the ordinance is to reduce or eliminate single use plastic carryout bags.
The law became effective January 17, 2013.
Reasons for the law
- Plastic bags can entangle or choke fish, turtles, birds and other animals that mistake the plastic for food.
- Plastic bags contribute to litter, especially because they are easily carried by the wind. Knot them to prevent fly-aways.
- Plastic bags may degrade into unsafe chemicals.
- Single use plastic bags are not consistent with the County’s goal to reduce the quantity of materials going into the landfills.
Hawai‘i is the first state to have plastic bag reduction laws in all counties!
Important information about the new law
- All County of Hawai‘i businesses including groceries, restaurants, farmer’s markets and other retailers must comply.
- Beginning January 17, 2013, if stores provided single use plastic carryout bags, they were required to charge a fee.
- Starting on January 17, 2014, all single-use plastic carryout bags are prohibited.
- Allows for plastic bags to be used for bulk items such as meat, fish, nuts, grains, fresh produce, small hardware, garments & prescription drugs.
- It does not regulate paper bags or fees for reusable bags.
- Click on the links at the bottom of this page to see the complete ordinance, the adopted administrative rules and other information.
- To request business resources or consumer educational materials (while supplies last) please send an email to or call 961-8270.
- For more information on the law and answers to many questions please read our Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance – Frequently Asked Questions.
Reusable Bags are the Best Choice
A high-quality reusable bag has the potential to replace over 600 single-use plastic bags over its lifetime. Paper bags are not the best alternative to a single-use plastic bag. It takes 14 million trees each year in the United States to produce a year’s supply of paper bags for retail use. Reusable bags reduce litter and conserve natural resources; making them the best choice!
Shop with Aloha and bring your reusable bag!
Reusable Bag Tips
- You may need to bag your own purchased items if you use a reusable bag or bag your items when you reach your vehicle.
- Keep reusable bags by the door, in your car, or near your car keys.
- Keep foldable bags in pockets, backpacks, or your purse.
- Keep bags clean by washing them regularly. For some helpful tips on maintaining Germ-free Re-Usable Bags check out the flyer by the Nutrition Education for Wellness Program of the UH Cooperative Extension Service.
- Give reusable bags to your friends & family. They make great gifts.
Notice: Public hearings regarding the administrative rules relating to the law were held on December 6, 2012 in West Hawai‘i at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center in Kailua-Kona and December 12, 2012 in East Hawai‘i at the Aupuni Center in Hilo. Please see the following links for a copy of the hearing notice and details about the meeting locations and rules.
Additional Information & Resources:
County of Hawai‘i Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance No. 12-1 (PDF)
County of Hawai‘i Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance Administrative Rules (PDF)
County of Hawai‘i Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance Administrative Rules Public Hearing Notice (PDF)
County of Hawai‘i Media Release Reminding Public of Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance Effective Date (PDF)
County of Hawai‘i Plastic Bag Reduction Business Resources & Consumer Education Materials:
“Bring Your Bags, Shop with Aloha” Banner (PDF, Full Size 3′ x 12′ 21 MB)
(JPG, small preview size)
“Bring Your Bags, Take Reusable Bags When Shopping.” Leaflet, front (PDF, 5.5″ x 4.25″ double-sided, quarter page cut 2.4 MB)
“Bring Your Bags, Take Reusable Bags When Shopping.” Leaflet, back (PDF, 5.5″ x 4.25″ double-sided, quarter page cut 2.4 MB)
“Bring Your Bags, Take Reusable Bags When Shopping.” Leaflet (JPG, preview, 8.5″ x 11″)
“Bring Your Bags, Shop With Aloha” Checkout Button (PDF, 3″ round)
“Plastic Bag Monster” – Newspaper Ad (JPG, Full Size, 202 KB, new)
“Everyone Is On The Path To Zero Waste By Shopping With Reusable Bags” – Newspaper Ad (JPG, Full Size, 1.7 MB, new)
“Take Reusable Bags When You Go Shopping” – Michael Tokunaga – Newspaper Ad (JPG, preview size, 169 KB)
“Take Reusable Bags When You Go Shopping” – Aunty Fanny Ahoy – Newspaper Ad (PDF, Full size, 1.9 MB, updated)
“Take Reusable Bags When You Go Shopping” Newspaper Ad (JPG, Full size, 200 KB)
Plastic Bag Reduction Public Service Announcement – “Protect” – video (.mp4 format, 8.1 MB)
Plastic Bag Reduction Public Service Announcement – “Family” – video (.mp4 format, 8.2 MB)
Plastic Bag Reduction Public Service Announcement – “Kōkua” – video (.mp4 format, 8.1 MB)
Plastic Bag Reduction Public Service Announcement – “Clean” – audio only (.mp3 format, 680 KB)
Plastic Bag Reduction Public Service Announcement – “Help” – audio only (.mp3 format, 687 KB)
Plastic Bag Reduction Public Service Announcement – “Ohana Reusable Bag Tips” – audio only (.mp3 format, 1.4 MB, new)
Plastic Bag Reduction Public Service Announcement – “Bag Monsters” – audio only (.mp3 format, 1.4 MB, new)