New Technology to Save Hawaii's Plastic Waste Problem

Ann Kobayashi
Ann Kobayashi
Terry Sasaki
Terry Sasaki

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- A measure to ban plastic bags on Oahu has hit some resistance.

City leaders say they've received some complaints. But there may be a compromise.

A bill to ban these isn't holding up well.

"There are many people who love plastic bags, especially many senior citizens have called, they use it to carry things or to get rid of trash, wet trash, so it hasn't been an easy bill to talk about," said Honolulu Councilmember Ann Kobayashi.

But the state's plastic waste is building up, polluting Hawaii streams. It's an environmental issue Hawaii can't ignore.

Japan may have the answer - the country uses these machines to grind up plastic bags and turn 95% into oil, which can fuel generators, like HECO's.

"Whatever is left over is pure black carbon that can also be used in burning, or repair of the road," said Terry Sasaki.

Sasaki is with T-Sphere Energy, a company that recently opened an office in Honolulu. Sasaki says these processors are environmentally friendly.

"It uses electricity instead of fire so it has a zero emission very quiet," Sasaki said.

Following Japan's footsteps could be the compromise needed.

"If we can't ban them, let's find a good use for these bags."

To get the green light from both environmentalists and shoppers on a solution to the state plastic bag problem.

T-Sphere says Hawaii would initially need five of those machines.

It would cost $4.5 million to ship, set up, and run them.

Sasaki says Hawaii would need 25 machines total to process all of the state's plastic waste.

It's an alternative the city is looking at, pending a hearing on the plastic ban bill.