On Thursday, KHON2 reported a recent shutdown of recycling redemption centers across the state.
Twenty-one centers shut down last year: 19 on Oahu, one on Kauai, and one on Lanai. The state told us part of the problem was higher rents and lower scrap values.
One idea struck down in the past might have another chance. It’s come up several times since Hawaii’s bottle bill became law in 2004.
Now, with so many redemption centers shutting down, KHON2 asked a state lawmaker about requiring grocery stores to take your beverage containers.
Honolulu resident John Young says if he can recycle it, it’s getting recycled.
“I myself recycle everything that I can, having to pay that tax, then trying to get my money back from it, but I think it is a real encouragement,” he said.
But recently some recycling redemption centers have been closing down and won’t reopen anytime soon.
“The redemption centers closing down, I think is a shame,” Young said.
So what can be done so people can conveniently get their money back?
According to Rep. Chris Lee, D, Kailua, Waimanalo, “we are seeing stores really start to get interested in being recycling stations themselves, whether it is vending machines on property or some other way that they can draw customers in to redeem cans and spend that money right there in the store.”
Lee says the solution is convenience. Just imagine redeeming your cans or bottles at the same place where you purchased them.
“This has been a discussion that has been ongoing at the Capitol for a few years now, but especially now with these closures, it seems like we should just move the rest of the way to make sure people have an easy and convenient way to recycle,” he said.
Lee said he is in talks with a few stores around the state that are interested in adding redemption centers on their property, and it could be happening very soon.
“So hopefully in the next six months or so, we will start to see a conversation and start to see a lot of the stores take this up because for them, it is a customer draw,” he said.
Young says the more convenient the better: “Convenience-wise, I think you can’t beat that.”
We also checked with the Sierra Club, which tells us Hawaii is still the only state with a bottle bill that doesn’t require supermarkets to redeem.
As for why grocery stores have opposed the idea in the past, space and cleanliness were their big concerns.