What happens if the trash doesn’t go to the mainland? - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

What happens if the trash doesn’t go to the mainland?

Tim Steinberger Tim Steinberger
Joe Whelan Joe Whelan

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

KALAELOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - The green mountain of plastic wrapped garbage may be a monument to an idea whose time "never" came.

If the city cancels a contract to ship trash to the mainland, the rubbish at Hawaiian Waste Systems -- 20,000 tons of it -- will have to go somewhere.

But it's won't be as easy as just loading the bales and dumping them at the landfill.

But according to the Director of Environmental Services, that's what will probably happen at least for some of it.

"We would have to deal with it locally which means it would have to go to a permitted facility, whether it be HPower or Waimanalo Gulch," Tim Steinberger said.

HPower burns waste into usable electricity. Logic says it would get most of the garbage.

The Waimanalo Gulch Landfill would get the rest. But here's the rub.

"Our operations are somewhat scaled back because the amount of available space we have is limited," said Joe Whelan, general manager of Waste Management of Hawaii.

The company manages the landfill. It's excavating, lining and creating new disposal sites but it could be a month or longer before it's ready for rubbish from Hawaiian Waste.

And there are logistical concerns of how to move the bales.

"Is it going to be taken out of the containers at Hawaiian Waste Systems and brought here in a loose form? Or is it coming in as bales that we would have to offload ourselves?" Whelan said.

Waste Management would first do trial runs to ensure its employees are safe and the trash from Hawaiian Waste doesn't contain liquids or other surprises.

"We know that most of it was bulky trash and convenience center waste," Steinberger said.

For months talk has been about when the trash would move to the mainland. Now the questions are closer to home. Where will it go? And how will it get there?

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