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Council ends discount on tipping fees for recycling

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The City Council voted today to end a decades-old subsidy that supports recycling by private companies and nonprofits.

The 80 percent discount on "tipping fees" charged by the city when companies deliver recycling residue to the Waimanalo Gulch landfill cost the city about $2 million last year.

It has been criticized by some as too generous to a single company: Schnitzer Steel Hawaii, which does the most recycling in Honolulu with more than 100,000 tons of metal a year from automobiles, appliances and other bulky metal items. Since 1998 Schnitzer has received about $19 million in discounts, including $1.9 million last year.

While lawmakers have said they want to do away with the subsidy in the interest of fairness they also have said they want to continue to encourage recycling. They continue to work on proposals that would restore the subsidy at a lower rate and cap the amount a single company could claim.

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