City green waste program growing on Oahu

Published: Jun. 11, 2009 at 2:32 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 11, 2009 at 5:35 PM HST
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Donald Lum
Donald Lum
Drew Jernigan
Drew Jernigan
Arthur Martin
Arthur Martin

By Roger Mari - bio | email

KANEOHE (KHNL) - Every week, the City and County of Honolulu collects tons of green waste around Oahu.

At the crack of dawn they rev-up and roll out for the morning's green waste pick up. Four drivers hit the streets of Kaneohe looking for green bins. What's inside?

"Grass clippings, leaves, branches," said Donald Lum, Kapaa Transfer Station Superintendant.

The new state of the art trucks make the job easy, but residents are still being asked to help out by making sure all their green waste fits properly in the bins.

"It's work on everybody's part, if they just cut it up good and put it in the can we can go ahead and collect it and get to where it's got to go," said Donald Lum.

Drew Jernigan is one Windward resident who's glad her house is part of this relatively new route.

"Being able to put them out on the curb every two weeks and get rid of them is important otherwise we'd probably have to hire landscapers to come out and do that for us," said Jernigan.

A few hours later the green waste is weighed and dumped off at the Kapaa Quarry Transfer Station. It eventually ends up at Hawaiian Earth Products where it is freed of contaminants and prepared for grinding. In the first week of June, more than 351 tons of green waste were turned into mulch and compost.

"I've worked here nine years, I'm surprised how much of this green waste we get everyday," said Arthur Martin, Operations Manager of Hawaiian Earth Products.

The mulch and compost are made available for people who use it for landscaping and gardening.

"It's probably one of the only true recycling systems we have here in Hawaii. Some of the other things, there's not recyclers on the island so it has to be shipped out and a lot of times, the benefits don't get shipped back in," said Lum.

It's a never ending way of giving back to the islands and keeping tons of green waste out of our landfills.

The curbside green waste program is growing. In 2007, 80,000 tons were grinded into mulch and compost. Last year, that number rose to more than 100,000.