Hawaii Becomes First State to Ban Plastic Bags

August 24, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. grocery store /ˈgroʊs ri stɔr/ (n.) – a store where food and household supplies can be bought
Example: We go to the grocery store every weekend.

2. enforce /ɛnˈfɔrs/ (v.) – to implement something
Example: The police enforce the laws.

3. violate /ˈvaɪ əˌleɪt/ (v.) – to break a rule or law
Example: He violated the traffic law when he ignored the red light.

4. exemption /ɪgˈzɛmp ʃən/ (n.) – the state of being free from rules followed by the majority
Example: The people were angered by the exemptions of the proposed law.

5. implement /ˈɪm pləˌmɛnt/ (v.) – to apply or to put something into effect
Example: The company implemented a new policy regarding vacation leaves.


Read the text below.
Hawaii has become the first state to ban grocery stores from using plastic bags.

In July this year, Hawaii’s capital city Honolulu and the whole Oahu island enforced the plastic ban, following the steps of other Hawaiian islands such as Maui [MOU-ee] and Kauai [kah-oo-AH-ee]. Honolulu’s Department of Environmental Services is tasked to enforce and monitor the implementation of this policy.

Hawaii specifically bans plastic bags that are non-compostable and cannot be used multiple times. The authorities also encourage businesses to use reusable shopping bags, recyclable paper bags, and biodegradable plastic bags. Retailers who violate this policy will have to pay $100 to $1,000 per day as penalty.

However, this policy has some loopholes as it provides several exemptions. For instance, people can still use plastic bags to carry fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish. Plastic bags used for medicine, newspaper delivery, laundry, and chemicals are also allowed to be used.

Although Hawaii is the first state to implement this ban, other cities have also enforced a similar policy. Among these cities are Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Santa Monica in California. Portland, Oregon, and Washington D.C. also carry out a plastic ban. In 2011, Coastal North Carolina also started implementing a similar ban, although it was suspended when its paper bag distribution center stopped operating after getting hit by a tornado.

Recently, California passed a law similar to the plastic ban in Hawaii. However, its implementation has been postponed until a referendum in November.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think it is also possible to implement this policy in your country? Why or why not?
·         Do you think most people in Hawaii will comply with this policy despite its loopholes? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What actions are being done in your country to reduce plastic waste?
·         What can be the advantages and disadvantages of banning plastic bags in your country?

August 24, 2015