Hawaii County announced today that it will no longer accept paper and plastics for recycling at its transfer stations starting mid-October.
Effective Oct. 16, Hawaii County’s designated recycling and transfer stations will no longer be able to accept plastics and papers such as newspapers due to significant decreases in global recycling markets.
“Collectively, we’ve been reacting to this a necessity,” said Gregory Goodale, Department of Environmental Management Solid Waste Division Chief. “Ultimately the markets kind of forced us. We were at a point where we had a contract that was ready for renewal and it just wasn’t making economic sense to renew it when the materials weren’t able to go to the market.”
Goodale said the county’s contractor, Business Services Hawaii, was faced with having no more market to send recyclable materials to any more.
Starting Oct. 16, the county’s designated recycling and transfer stations will be downsized as follows:
The “2-Bin” recycling program will collect only:
>> Corrugated cardboard (clean and not contaminated with food)
>> Brown Kraft paper bags, such as paper shopping bags from the grocery store
The county’s “glass bin” will continue to collect:
>> Glass bottles and jars (with no caps, covers or lids)
>> Clean non-HI-5 bottles and jars (such as wine bottles, pickle jars)
Separate scrap metal bins will collect:
>> Metal cans, which must be clean and small (such as cans of tuna, soup and pet food)
Previously, the county’s “mixed bin” accepted mixed paper, including office paper, newspapers, junk mail, magazines, cereal boxes and paper tower rolls. After Oct. 16, none of those will be accepted any more. Also, the “mixed bin” previously accepted No. 1 and No. 2 plastic jars, jugs and bottles. After Oct. 16, no plastics will be accepted at all.
Goodale said a few months ago, the “2-Bin” program had already been scaled back to accept only No. 1 and 2 plastics. Previously, the program accepted No. 1, 2, 5 and 6 plastics, but no plastics will be accepted for recycling starting mid-October.
“Unfortunately when it comes to things like plastics, we can’t handle that material here on this island,” he said. “As of right now there isn’t anybody in the Asian markets that are buying those materials.”
In the meantime, Goodale said the county would be searching for alternative ways to recycle paper on island, rather than having it shipped elsewhere. Some small businesses, for instance, might take the newspaper to pack flowers, but it would be a small, niche market.
When China began restricting recyclable materials a few years ago, other markets in Asia were available, according to Goodale.
“Even with those, they’ve cut back significantly because there’s a big glut of materials and unfortunately when you start to look at somebody like us, County of Hawaii, we’re kind of a small player when it comes to volume,” he said.
Goodale said the lack of markets for recycling is a collective problem that all counties in Hawaii are facing, although each has its own contracts and programs.
“Everybody’s dealing with it,” he said. “The markets are what they are.”
The HI-5 beverage container redemption program, however, remains in effect. Qualified beverage containers can still be recycled and redeemed for 5-cents apiece.
For a full list of what can or cannot be recycled at the County of Hawaii’s Recycling & Transfer stations, visit hawaiizerowaste.org/2-bin.