HONOLULU (KHON2) — Living on an island, we don’t have room for all of our trash along old cars, appliances and larger items.
And that’s where Island Recycling comes in — a place where all types of broken-down items go to die only to be re-born again.
As the saying goes one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And if that’s the case. Jim Nutter is sitting on the treasure trove.
Nutter is the president of Island Recycling. A company that brings in tons of goods across the island every single day. Anything and everything you could imagine.
When it comes to the most shocking item that he’s ever seen come through? That would be the subject of one of the most memorable stories in Hawaii history.
“I think probably one of the things that we’ve done was when Aloha Airlines was in existence they had that one fatal crash when it became a convertible,” said Nutter. “We recycled that plane.”
Everything here that you see will be either cut up or broken into smaller pieces, and then run through a shredder. The smaller pieces will then be loaded into a container and shipped out for others to buy.
A huge operation, that started small, and by chance for Nutter nearly a half-century ago when he went to a job placement center after grad school, and found an opportunity for a manager trainee
“And I went down and that was for Reynolds Metal Company and now they call it Reynolds Recycling and they just started buying aluminum cans. It was late 60s early 70s.”
Today he still collects aluminum cans. He also has an entire canyon of cardboard. And reams of old phone and electrical lines as well. All of it to be given a second life.
“Isn’t that the whole concept of recycling? That we take this material in and we do make new products out of it.”
“This is in a sense kind of doing the community a great service? Well, I believe so because the landfills we don’t want to fill landfills in the state. We don’t have landfills we don’t have room anymore and nobody wants it in their backyard.”
And although it seems like some of these piles may have been sitting here for years. Nutter says everything you see is usually turned around pretty quickly.
“Yeah. Normal every two to three months the pile will be changed out. And then a whole new pile again. So it never quite goes away because it’s always coming in and we had to do that to maintain the business. We have to keep using everything that we do.”
Although he’s found great success in recycling it hasn’t been without challenges. Including most recently new tariffs, new guidelines by foreign countries now banning the importing of U.S. recyclables.
But he says the key to success is to simply keep charging forward.
“You just have to keep working and working and working and there’s always a rainbow at the end.”
“You have to change. If you don’t have change you’ll go out of business. The world’s always changing and who we sell to is always changing.”
He also says his business reminds him daily that there’s a larger lesson for all of us.
“We don’t want it in the landfills, I want to be able to get it out. We want to ship it off-island. We have a pristine place here and we have to keep it. And that means if you’re at the beach and you see a piece of steel or plastic pick it up and put it where it belongs, get it to the right place so that we don’t have these problems,” he said.