Inspectors Converge On Pearl City Recycling Site

Peter Bloom
Peter Bloom
Samantha Choy
Samantha Choy

PEARL CITY (KHNL) -- The concept is simple. The state takes six cents and promises to give back five. But when folks participating in HI-5 discovered they weren't getting their full refunds, they turned to our Talk Story line for help. Wednesday, state officials conducted an inspection at one redemption site in Pearl City.

Workers at the Reynolds Recycling site collect bottles and cans under the watchful eyes of Peter Bloom.

"This is plastic resin number seven, and plastic resin number seven is not part of the deposit program," Bloom said.

Bloom and his partner are inspectors with the state Department of Health, which manages the HI-5 recycling program.

"We're looking at whether the redemption center is redeeming all types of eligible deposit beverage containers," he said. "If they're weighing the containers, make sure they're using proper weighing techniques."

Ah, the weighing. As we reported last week, consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated with that process. Workers ballpark the number of containers based on weight, instead of actually counting them. For her cans, Samantha expected a $20 refund.

"When we got there, they weighed it," Samantha Choy, 13, said. "And when we got the money, we got 19 dollars and 10 cents."

We conducted our own experiment and received refunds far short of what we expected. Reynolds acknowledges the weighing process isn't fair, but says it must follow the state's guidelines.

"I know people feel that they're not happy with the procedures or what not," Jill Tokuda, Reynolds Recycling, said. "But really what we're doing is exactly what the state mandates that we do in terms of the counting and the weighing system."

The inspectors say they found no major problems with Reynolds on this day. As for Samantha, she'll keep HI-5-ing.

"We're throwing away a lot of trash, so we should recycle whatever we can," she said.

"So for you, it's not really the money?" this reporter asked.

"No," she replied.

The redemption sites are allowed to count by weight if a person brings in 50 or more beverage containers. State health officials say they plan to do another study to see if they can make the segregated rate, which is used in the weighing process, more accurate.