HONOLULU (KHON2) — Major changes to Hawaii County’s recycling program began Wednesday. Recycle stations will no longer be taking some items that they used to such as paper, all types of plastic, as well as some types of glass and metal.
No changes will be made to recycling Hi-5 bottles and cans at Hi-5 recycle stations.
The change comes as global markets like China are no longer buying some recyclables. Some counties such as Kauai and Hawaii have had to downsize the list of items people can recycle.
The Hawaii County Department of Environmental Management said they had no choice but to make the change.
“There has been a change in the market, and the cost for our contractor to collect, clean, separate out, [and] transport has gotten to a point where it’s not economically viable for them to continue to do this,” said William Kucharski, the department’s director.
County leaders say they’re working on finding other alternatives.
“Within a year or so, we’re going to have a composting facility up and running. That’s going to greatly reduce some portion of our waste stream, particularly as it relates to paper,” said Aaron Chung, Hawaii County council chairman.
However he said they still don’t have an answer to plastics. For some people, that’s a long wait.
“A lot of environmentalists in Hawaii County are upset about this provision that’s been added to make recycling much more difficult, because it’s such an important part to separate our trash and minimize the amount that’s going to landfill or incineration,” said Doorae Shin, the Oahu coordinator for the Surfrider Foundation.
“The fact of the matter is this is making us take a look at exactly what we’re doing – what are our program’s doing? Hopefully from this, we can come up with an improved system. One that is sustainable, a program that will actually do service and allow people to do what their heart is telling them to do which is to recycle as much as they can,” said Kucharski.
Items like corrugated cardboard, brown paper bags and glass bottles and jars will still be accepted.
For a full list of the items no longer accepted at recycling facilities, you can visit the county’s website here.