HONOLULU (KHON2) – It’s no secret Hawaii residents, visitors and tourists accumulate a lot of trash.

There are only so many landfills throughout the islands and with the growing number of residents and visitors the state is always looking for new and better ways to collect and dispose of waste. 

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According to the City and County of Honolulu, most residential and general commercial trash is disposed of at H-POWER.

H-POWER facilities reduce the volume of trash by 90 percent by combusting it, stabilizing it and recovering energy prior to disposal.

So, in a sense, Oahu is getting energy to run homes by burning waste and trash at these facilities. 

H-POWER began operation in 1990 and today converts more than 2,000 tons of waste per day into enough electricity to power 60,000 homes.

Markus Owens with the City and County of Honolulu said with an 82 percent landfill diversion rate, Honolulu is approaching how Japan and other European countries manage their waste.

“The waste is burned in boilers, producing steam,” said Owens. “The steam drives turbine-generators that generate electricity, which are sold to HECO.”

The H-POWER Process:

  • Trucks deliver municipal solid waste
  • Primary shredders open and spread waste
  • Electromagnets remove metals for recycling
  • Screens remove dirt sand and glass
  • Secondary shredder processes remaining waste
  • Waste is combusted in boiler producing steam
  • Steam drives turbine to generate electricity
  • Air pollution control equipment cleans exhaust gas
  • Ash is hauled to landfill for disposal
  • Renewable electricity powers Hawaii homes

He said H-POWER is key in helping the State of Hawaii achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2045.

He believes this can happen if they continue to minimize landfilling and help offset fossil fuel imports by about one barrel of oil per ton of trash processed.  

Items that would formerly go to the landfill like tires, sludge and bulky items can now be burned to make energy for Oahu homes. Owens said Hawaii isn’t the only state turning trash into energy.

“There are about 50 waste to energy facilities in the country,” said Owens. “Especially in the Northeast and Florida”

Some myths about H-POWER are that their facilities are landfills or that they don’t complement recycling efforts on Oahu. 

Owens said H-POWER facilities help stabilize trash and reduce the volume on island along with complementing recycling efforts and reducing the amount of waste on island. 

He said H-POWER also averages two or three public tour groups every week and has developed successful partnerships with local councilmembers for public education and outreach and nonprofit organizations.

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For more information about H-POWER facilities on Oahu head to the City and County of Honolulu’s website