Trash problems not only impacting Oahu

Donald Fujimoto
Donald Fujimoto
Allison Fraley
Allison Fraley

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

KEKAHA (KHNL) - What to do with our trash is a multi-island problem in Hawaii. Officials want to expand its capacity and extend the life of Oahu's Waimanalo Gulch Landfill.

People dump more than 500,000 tons of waste there each year. Trashed-out is also a problem and controversy on the Garden Isle of Kauai.

The landfill on Kauai is almost full and like on Oahu without expansion and extension. The big question is, what to do with what we dispose?

Kauai County engineers say the island needs to find a new landfill site right away.

The current one is on Kauai's westside in Kekaha, just outside of Waimea. The biggest issue isn't if one needs to be built. Instead, it's the location that draws lots of concern. No one wants it in their backyards.

The sounds of the Kekaha landfill will be heard in another town on Kauai. Not something residents look forward to.

"We're just hoping the community will accept that and will be able to accept the results of the whole process," County engineer Donald Fujimoto said.

The process of finding another landfill is in place. Eight sites have been chosen, from the westside to the eastside. But as trash fills up the current dump, efforts are also underway to divert as much of it as possible.

"That's your up front solution and then the landfill is the back end, so recycling plays a huge role and not just recycling, but waste diversion and that means, that includes source reducing, not creating waste in the first place," County Solid Waste coordinator Allison Fraley said.

A new landfill takes up to seven years to develop, so county engineers feel strapped for time.

"I guess the biggest challenge is just the issue of the landfill itself," Fujimoto said. "Nobody wants it and for good reason. I mean you know and that is the challenge to kind of the good news is that we do have the process that we're going through that is very objective."

Fujimoto also says the community that hosts the landfill will get compensated for it.

A benefit he and others hope will satisfy this trashed-out problem.

The county has formed advisory committees across Kauai. They will ultimately in choose a site for a new landfill, with the help of solid waste experts. This process should last until early next year.