Big Island, Hawaii, passes bill to prevent merchants from giving out plastic shopping bags, but Mayor Billy Kenoi hasn't indicated whether he will sign it

HILO, Hawaii , December 22, 2011 () – The Big Island's county council has passed a bill to prevent merchants from giving out plastic shopping bags starting next year.

The council voted 5-3 to pass the bill but Mayor Billy Kenoi hasn't indicated whether he will sign it.

Maui and Kauai counties implemented plastic bag bans in January. Hawaii County's vote was delayed for months amid a series of public hearings across the island.

West Hawaii Today (http://bit.ly/vvq8fk ) reported Thursday Councilman Pete Hoffman insists the bill isn't a ban because merchants can provide plastic bags for produce and meat, while customers would be able to purchase plastic bags for their own use.

The bill would go into effect in a year and retails would be allowed to sell plastic bags at check for a year after that.

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Information from: West Hawaii Today, hawaiitoday.com">http://www.westhawaiitoday.com

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