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Cash raised via blue city bins supports recycling operations

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Question: What happens to the HI-5 containers we place in the city’s blue recycling bins? Who gets the money from redeeming the cans and bottles? Does it go into the general fund?

Answer: The money collected from curbside recycling goes into a fund to be used only for recycling operations, said Markus Owens, spokesman for the city Department of Environmental Services.

However, the city really hasn’t been making any money, although it expects that will change under a new contract.

From July 2009 through May (June figures not available), the city paid its recycling contractor a net $78,760 to process 14,114 tons of mixed recyclables. That comes out to $5.60 per ton, Owens said.

By comparison, he said the processing cost at the HPOWER trash incineration plant is about $51 per ton, "so the savings for the taxpayer is significant."

Under the old contract the city received only a straight credit back on the 5-cent HI-5 deposit. That reduced, but didn’t entirely cover, the costs of processing.

The new contract with the low bidder, RRR Recycling, began June 1 and provides a new structure for pricing and credits, with more potential benefits for the city and taxpayers, Owens said.

Under the new contract, the city and RRR will "more fully" share revenues from the material value of recyclable containers collected.

The material value includes the re-manufacturers’ market value for each commodity, the 5-cent deposit plus a 2-cent handling fee paid to redemption center operators, and the 8-cents-per-pound glass recycling subsidy for nondeposit glass containers, Owens said

(Consumers pay a 1-cent, nonredeemable handling fee on deposit containers, which supplements the pool of unredeemed deposits to pay for operating the HI-5 program.)

Under the previous contract the city was charged a processing fee of $45 per ton with a credit back on the HI-5 deposit.

Under its contract, RRR Recycling must first credit the city on the material value collected to cover the $49.75 unit price bid for processing, Owens said. (The unit price is the price per ton to sort, compact, bale and ship off the recyclable materials to market.)

Then RRR and the city will split 50-50 on the remaining value.


Storm Drain Pollution

In addition to the city’s Environmental Concern line (see, the state Department of Transportation Highways Division on Oahu wants the public to know it also takes reports of storm drain violations.

Call the Storm Water Hotline at 831-6714 or file a report online at

For more information, go to



To Z.C., who found and returned my 16-month-old Shih Tzu to the Hawaiian Humane Society on Thursday evening, June 10. "Thank you" does not adequately express my appreciation and happiness. I had spent a frantic, heart- and gut-wrenching 24 hours looking for him after he escaped from my friend’s home while we were having dinner. I called the Humane Society to report a missing dog and was relieved to get a call the next night saying a Shih Tzu had been turned in and the microchip indicated he was mine. I’d like the public to know that if they see a stray pet, turning in the animal is the right thing to do. — Dennis, Alewa Heights


Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail


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