Plastic Bag Ban

Banned and Acceptable Bags

Chapter 9, Article 9 of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu regulates the use of plastic bags on Oahu, effective July 1, 2015. The City’s Department of Environmental Services is assigned the responsibility to implement and enforce the ban. Administrative Rules for Chapter 9 have already been promulgated. Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) specific to the plastic bag ban will follow the definitions and restrictions as stipulated in the ordinance.


Effective July 1, 2015, businesses shall be prohibited from providing plastic checkout bags and non-recyclable paper bags to their customers at the point of sale for the purpose of transporting groceries or other merchandise. Nothing in the ordinance shall preclude a business from making available to customers, with or without charge, at the point of sale: 1) reusable bags, compostable plastic bags, or recyclable paper bags for the purpose of transporting groceries or other merchandise; or 2) non-recyclable paper bags to protect or transport prepared foods, beverages, or bakery goods.

Banned Plastic Bags

Plastic Checkout Bag” means a carryout bag that is provided by a business to a customer for the purpose of transporting groceries or other retail goods, and is made from non-compostable plastic and not specifically designed and manufactured for multiple re-use.

The term “plastic checkout bag” does not include the following types of bags. The following types of bags are excluded from the ban and may continue in use.
(A) Bags used by customers inside a business to package loose items, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, ground coffee, grains, candies, or small hardware items;
(B) Bags used to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat or fish, flowers or potted plants, or other items to contain dampness;
(C) Bags used to protect or transport prepared foods, beverages, or bakery goods, including takeout bags used at restaurants, fast food restaurants, and lunch wagons, to transport prepared foods;
(D) Bags provided by pharmacists to contain prescription medications;
(E) Newspaper bags for home newspaper delivery;
(F) Door-hanger bags;
(G) Laundry, dry cleaning, or garment bags, including bags provided by hotels to guests to contain wet or dirty clothing;
(H) Bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage, pet waste, or yard waste bags;
(I) Bags used to contain live animals, such as fish or insects sold in pet stores;
(J) Bags used to transport chemical pesticides, drain-cleaning chemicals, or other caustic chemicals sold at the retail level; provided that this exemption shall be limited to one bag per customer;
(K) Compostable plastic bags.

Acceptable Bags

Compostable Plastic Bag” means a checkout bag that is provided to a customer for the purpose of transporting groceries or other retail goods, that meets current ASTM D6400 Standard Specifications for compostability and that is labeled:
1) With the Biodegradable Product Institute (“BPI”) logo as meeting the ASTM standard for compostability; and
2) With “Compostable” on both sides of the bag in either green color lettering that is at least one inch in height, or as otherwise specified; or within a green color band that is at least one inch in height in order to be readily and easily identifiable.”

Recyclable Paper Bag” means a paper bag that: (1) is one hundred percent recyclable, (2) contains a minimum of forty percent post-consumer recycled content, and (3) displays the words “Reusable” and “Recyclable” in a highly visible manner on the outside of the bags.

Reusable Bag” means a bag with handles that is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse and is made of: (1) cloth or other washable fabric; or (2) durable material suitable for reuse, including plastic that is at least 2.25 mils thick.

Timeline for Implementation

February 2015 -- Notices were sent to the affected businesses as a reminder of the impending ban and requesting the return of a compliance form indicating how the business plans to address the ban. The City cannot guarantee that its list of businesses is all inclusive. If your business provides customers with a checkout bag, this ordinance applies to you. Please contact our office at 768-3200 for more information.

July 1, 2015 -- Inspection and enforcement. Businesses are required to submit annual compliance forms.

Click the link to complete the Plastic Bag Ban Mandatory Compliance Form (New!)

Click the link to view the Plastic Bag Ban Information Sheet.

For questions or assistance, please contact the City's Recycling Branch at 768-3200 or

© 2005 City & County of Honolulu's Department of Environmental Services.