City Council Moves Ahead with Curbside Recycling

Environmental issues at Waimanalo Gulch landfill prompt call for curbside recycling.
Environmental issues at Waimanalo Gulch landfill prompt call for curbside recycling.

(KHNL)  Oahu needs to recycle more. That's the feeling from environmental groups, city officials, and many residents.

Waimanalo Gulch Landfill is filling up, and is expected to be full in about two years.

A Honolulu City Council committee passed a bill that would start a curbside recycling program on Oahu.

"Folks wanna do the right thing, but they they want it easy and convenient," said Jeff Mikulina of the environmental group Sierra Club. "Coming to the doorstep couldn't be easier for them, if they could just haul out their bottles and cans."

A study done in 1999 showed that 43% of the trash in an average Oahu household can be recycled. The Sierra Club estimates 40,000 tons of trash could be recycled on the island, and diverted from the landfill.

"I think we're at a point where we can't simply keep on saying we have to study the problem, we have to do our plans, etc.," said one concerned citizen at Monday's hearing. "The plans are already in place and it's a matter of putting them in action at this point."

"We are not only a bad example as a city, we are a bad example in a country that's a bad example," said another. "And I think that that makes us not only look bad, but beside that point, it's a horrible decision not to do curbside."

The problem is money.

"Of course we wanna save, like the Sierra Club," said Eric Takamura, the city's director of environmental services. "Save trees, recycle paper, but from a practical standpoint from the money and extra resources we're given, how can we implement the most cost effective solution."

Funding for waste management comes from property taxes. With the council looking for tax breaks to offset sky-rocketing property taxes, Takamura isn't sure if the public would be in favor of paying more for a curbside recycling program.

"Recycling needs to be done," said Takamura. "Whatever we need to do, to reduce our dependancy on the landfill, that's the Mayor's primary objective."

The curbside recycling bill needs to pass two votes by the full council, before heading to Mayor Mufi Hannemann's desk.